IN its meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, the Federal Cabinet took a number of decisions, implementation of which would surely have a positive impact on the overall political environment in the country and bring relief for different segments of the society.
It invited the opposition to sit with the Government to resolve all controversial issues and initiate the process of much-needed electoral reforms for the larger interest of the country, asked Chairman Senate and the Speaker National Assembly to expedite the process of digitization to make the both houses paperless, approved establishment of the Central Business District in Lahore and hinted at increasing developmental allocations for the next financial year besides removing disparity in salary of government employees.
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, who briefed the media about proceedings and decisions of the cabinet, effectively put across the point of view of the Government as far as the need and importance of talks with the Opposition is concerned.
He emphasized that the Government is ready to sit separately with the three main opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan People’s Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl — and initiate talks on electoral reforms and also on other issues.
The logic of holding separate talks with three main political parties is understandable as the opposition is presently in disarray due to serious internal differences on various issues.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was no more a potent force due to virtual parting of ways by the PPP and ANP.
The Minister has rightly pointed out that the strategy of protests and pressure tactics has not helped the Opposition as it is as far away from its stated goals as before.
There is, therefore, no justification to waste time and energy that should be focused on more important issues facing the country especially problems affecting the daily life of the people.
It is the collective duty of the parliamentarians – both from the Government and the Opposition benches – to contribute their share in alleviating sufferings of the masses who sent them to represent their aspirations in provincial and national assemblies as well as the upper house of Parliament.
It is time to do parliamentary politics and help devise strategies and policies that could help address challenges in the realms of economy, national security and foreign policy.
It is encouraging that the Government is persisting with its offer of dialogue despite lukewarm response from the other side.
The new approach might work if the Government also persists in resisting the temptation of launching scathing attacks on the Opposition for which the Prime Minister has already issued directives to his team of spokespersons. This is necessary to create a congenial atmosphere for talks.
Electoral reforms is, no doubt, the most sensitive issue as it is directly related to the credibility of the electoral process that has always remained controversial depriving the ruling parties of the required legitimacy that is a must for effective delivery.
In the absence of meaningful electoral reforms, the future elections too might suffer from lack of legitimacy and, therefore, the time available till the next general election should be effectively utilized in devising a comprehensive package of reforms.
Apart from electoral reforms, there are also many other serious issues that the Opposition is pressing for and with this in view the remarks of Fawad Chaudhry that the Government was ready to discuss ‘other issues’ assumes greater importance.
As for digitization, it is appreciable that the Government has succeeded in making the Cabinet Division paperless and as a result the cabinet members would now get soft copies of different summaries besides saving Rs 10 million per annum.
The efficiency of the Government machinery can increase if the process of digitization of all the ministries and departments is expedited in line with modern requirements and also the dictates of transparency.
Though no details are yet available but the decision to amend the rules of business to empower ministries to make their own decisions is expected to help improve their working.
Taking cognizance of the difficulties being experienced by Overseas Pakistanis in getting succession certificates, the Cabinet decided to make the facility available at Pakistan embassies abroad through NADRA, which is a step in the right direction.
Increase in PSDP allocations is need of the hour as such a move would give a boost to economic activities while a raise in salaries/pensions of the Government employees and removal of disparities is long due.