Contributing to the malaise

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Zaheer Bhatti
WHEN one ponders over the goings on in the country even as an optimist who does not see Pakistan falling apart as against some political and media pundits who always paint the doomsday scenario and thrive on such assessment, one has to conclude that all stakeholders have and are continuing to contribute to the resultant malaise and uncertainty in the country.
The closest assessment of the national scene is reflected in Mahmood Sadiq’s analysis of the country’s milieu wherein he dominantly holds the political divide responsible but not excluding other stakeholders who are all contributing their share to the state of uncertainty. While the politicians embroiled in their infighting for crumbs of power fail to fathom their prime responsibility towards the State to at least rally around to face external threats in unison and show grace to iron out internal bickering and squabbles, the current scenario will hand nothing to any of them except that reliving Sufi Tabassum’s rhyme one will lose its beak and the other its tail. There are half a dozen dreamers in the field keen to don the Prime Minister’s mantle but none of them look remotely likely to wear it.
It is said and rightly so that one ought to learn from one’s mistakes and at least never make the same mistake again. In the course of the so-called Charter of Democracy, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir had agreed to scratch each other’s back and keep the dreaded Establishment at a distance by displaying the foresight to strengthen the very system which could deliver them the ultimate. But quite the opposite has transpired with Zardari replacing Benazir as together with Nawaz Sharif rather than afford any chance to their heirs apparent, they appear to be heading for what they are supposed to avoid with Imran Khan the emerging third force and a potential challenger to both, equally contributing to the state of nothingness by resorting to abusive accusations against both and delivering nothing himself.
One does not dispute his basic premise but seriously questions the manner of his assault in only yelling thief rather than performing and delivering in the Province where he has received the mandate; something most of his well-wishers have been advising him to do. His autocratic behavior has landed him in a situation whereby he may well find himself missing the bus just when he appeared to have come so close to boarding it. The ill-advised course adopted for accountability of the Ruling family alone rather than an across-the board Operation having added to the malaise, has already provided the Sharifs with a reason to play the martyr evoking public sympathy during the Grand Trunk Road outing besides creating confusion and chaos. Events which have followed have contributed to instability and uncertainty over Pakistan’s economy and also reflected on the CPEC momentum besides bringing undue pressure upon the already tricky law and order situation created around its geographic frontiers.
Amid such mist, reverberations are rife about a National Government comprised Technocrats in the offing upon conclusion of the present term of office of the rulers. Agreed that the Constitution of Pakistan does not provide for a National Government or one of Technocrats, but there is a strong view that all political parties must send Technocrats to the Senate who are far better equipped to address national issues not just requiring political foresight but also practical and professional know-how in various disciplines.
The emerging scenario portends that having surrendered the Parliamentary initiative to the Judiciary, regardless of who they point their fingers to for conspiring against them the Politicians have themselves provided enough material to stall the forthcoming general elections billed for 2018. Holding Local Bodies Elections but refusing to empower them for provision of public amenities; using provincial autonomy to stall accountability and create individual utopias challenging the writ of the Federation; failing to agree on Electoral Reforms including Independence of the Election Commission; Holding the long overdue National Census but lending it to serious reservations among various stakeholders over the resultant Divisible Pool and frustrating delimitation of Constituencies; these are a few among the various issues to iron out before holding the next general elections.
Although the Government after deadlock over Constitutional Amendments has summoned a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Monday to deliberate over delimitation of Constituencies following the National Census, and formed a 5-member Steering Committee to establish contacts with various political Parties in order to ensure that there was no postponement of the general elections, one doubts that the issues pointed out above could be sorted out with time at their disposal fast shrinking. With the expiry of their term only six months away and the Interim Government in the offing, unless they strike speedy consensus they may well be paving the way for postponement of the national polls to which the Election Commission has already hinted.
One suspects, that this time around the Interim Government’s top mandate would be to cleanse the system through the hitherto evading across-the-board accountability before holding national polls, so that if Parliamentary Democracy is indeed to be Pakistan’s future modus operandi, it better be clean and unhampered, such as the Westminster Democracy functioning in Britain over centuries even without a written Constitution in place.
The alleged wheeling dealing by the Establishment in order to achieve a split mandate in the event of the eventual electoral exercise is something which will not only be ill-advised but could reverberate the unfortunate and bitter experience of the past whenever the people’s mandate was sought to be tinkered with. Learning lessons from history, it is imperative to ensure an unadulterated electoral exercise. Any apprehensions over disloyalty to the State against anyone must be fairly and squarely addressed rather than raise unsustainable counterweights which eventually become your Achilles heel.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.
Email: zaheerbhatti1@gmail.com

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