Deceit and deception in politics

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NEWS & VIEWS

Mohammad Jamil

THERE is some deceit and deception in politics everywhere, but this phenomenon is hallmark of our politics. Political leaders in the past formed alliances even to get rid of elected leaders, and wanted to keep their fiefdoms and political dynasties intact. Since Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, their friends and Sharifs are facing investigations for corrupt practices and having assets beyond means, they are confused, nervous rather panicky. Once again they formed grand alliance, but continue deceiving each other. PPP did not support Shahbaz Sharif during election of prime minister, and now PML-N expressed reservations on the nomination of Aitzaz Ahsan and refused to lend support to him in presidential election. So far, PPP has stuck to the candidature of Aitzaz Ahsan, as it believes that PML-N alone cannot give a tough time to the PTI either in presidential election or in the Parliament, hence it will ultimately support Aitzaz Ahsan’s candidature.
At the time of sit-in by Imran Khan, PML-N had invoked the Charter of Democracy (CoD) and convened joint session of Parliament where PPP had stood by PML-N government. After having signed the CoD in 2006 in London, late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif had claimed that the document was a milestone in the struggle for real democracy in Pakistan. And they also declared that the Charter would stop the military from overthrowing an elected civilian government. Anyhow, analysts had termed the Charter of Democracy as charter of hypocrisy, as leaders of both parties were not sincere with each other. As regards redefining civil-military relationship, there was no need for that because the 1973 constitution encompasses the provisions defining contours of rights, duties and obligations of all the institution. In fact, the objective was to amend the constitution to allow them to be prime minister beyond two terms.
Therefore, Pakistanis back home were not moved by their gimmicks, as people were more interested in knowing if the two leaders had any plans for their welfare, which they had failed to do during their two stints as prime ministers. The people were disappointed when they had failed addressing the problems and hardships faced by them. During 1988 to 1999, both leaders twice came into power and both had also failed to sustain and promote democracy in the country. They had virtually done nothing to ameliorate the lot of common man. Both had accused each other of corruption and filed cases against each other. Both promoted the culture of favoritism, nepotism and political bribery. However, it was a ‘marriage of convenience’ or at best unity in adversity, as both leaders had the ambition to again become prime minister.
It was understood that they would take on each other once they realized that free and fair elections would be held. The question could be asked whether democracy had been revived through charters of democracy anywhere in the world. In Pakistan, the people are enmeshed in their own serious economic problems to spare time for shenanigans and gimmicks of the political leaders. It would have been a better if both leaders had come out with an economic agenda to better the lives of the teeming millions. In fact, the focus was on personalities rather than on economic programs. Anyhow, there is a lot of deceit and deception in politics especially in Pakistan; and despite signing the Charter of Democracy (CoD), both the PPP and the PML-N leaderships had betrayed each other. Shifting poles, changing positions and backing out of the promises and agreements are norms of our politicians and political parties.
After signing the CoD, PML-N demanded that the MMA be inducted in the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), which was opposed by the PPP on the grounds that the MMA had played a pivotal role in passage of 17th amendment. PML-N had then formed All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) on the ruins of the ARD. Later, when the APDM decided to boycott the elections, Mian Nawaz Sharif ditched the APDM and participated in general elections after late Benazir Bhutto had paved the way for herself and Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan. On the other hand, Late Benazir Bhutto had entered into an agreement with the then president Pervez Musharraf, and National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was issued to facilitate her return. She was assassinated at Liaquat National Park Rawalpindi by unknown assailant on 27th December 2007. PPP came into power after winning 2008 elections due to sympathy vote.
PML-N formed government after winning 2013 elections with thumping majority, but lived in fear that democracy may be derailed by the praetorians. But they should understand that not the tanks, the guns, the fighter planes or naval ships protect, safeguard and preserve the elected governments and the houses of legislature. This protective shield comes to them from the people’s power. Of course, this power comes to them only when they stay relevant to the people’s lives. Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif had soured his relations with military on issues that he should not have made a red rag in any event. Despite his earlier stints in power, he definitely had not learnt a crucial lesson of good governance, and that even with a heavy mandate at the top of official hierarchy is no omnipotent. Not even the US president is all sovereign by himself, as his enormous powers are curbed and limited not just by constitutional constraints but also by compelling considerations of good governance.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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