Fighting for lost cause
AFTER having failed to dislodge the government in the first round of agitation against it and lying low for more than four months the PDM minus PPP re-launched the movement with a public rally in Karachi on 29 the Augusts.
PDM President Maulan Fazlur Rahaman announced that the new phase of the Movement would culminate with a march on Islamabad.
This time, however, the basic objective enunciated is ensuring free and fair elections in the country and prevention of the repeat of what was done in the 2018 election.
Political analysts who had deep insight into the political history of Pakistan particularly the rivalry between PML (N) and PPP the two major components of the alliance, rightly thought that the Movement against the government had no chance to succeed because at some point they were very likely to pull in the opposite direction sounding death knell of the alliance.
As predicted, PPP and PML (N) developed differences in the backdrop of Yousaf Raza Gilani becoming leader of the opposition in the Senate with the support of ANP and BAP senators (an ally of the PTI government).
PML (N) felt betrayed by this move of the PPP contending that as per decision of the PDM the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate had to be from PML(N) while the PPP denied having agreed to any such proposition.
It contended that being a majority party in the Senate it was the right of the party to have its Senator catapulted to that position.
The PDM issued a show cause notice to ANP and PPP asking them to explain why they went against the PDM decision. Both these parties felt incensed by the issuance of the show-cause notice. ANP immediately announced separating ways with PDM.
Reacting to the show cause notice ANP announced its decision to pull out of the alliance. CEC of PPP also rejected the show cause notice and asked the PDM to apologize from both the parties for this unwanted indiscretion.
It also directed its office bearers in the PDM to resign their post which they did. This was followed by exchange of barbs between the PML(N) and PPP culminating in PPP also saying adieu to the PDM.
With this split in the alliance it was evident that the truncated PDM now stood no chance of achieving its objectives for which it came into being.
In the first round of agitation, honestly speaking, the PDM failed to impart momentum to its anti-government movement.
In view of the mega corruption scandals, startling revelations about money laundering, unearthing of benami properties worth billions and discovery of fake bank accounts used for money laundering, the majority of the people did not believe in the legitimacy of the cause which the PDM was trying to propagate.
I am also of the firm view that these parties came together to protect their vested interests and acts of taking the nation for a ride as their leadership was found involved in those scams.
The movement was actually aimed at pressurizing the government to abandon the process of accountability; the objective it has failed to achieve as the Prime Minister is not willing to compromise on the issue due to political expediencies. Frankly speaking PDM is fighting for an already lost cause.
The second round of agitation by PDM is also not going to succeed for the obvious reasons. They are an alliance of the defeated and allegedly corrupt elements.
It is therefore advisable for the parties left in the PDM as well as the PPP to seriously rethink their strategy.
They have wasted enough time of the nation through their agitation and by failing to play their role as a true opposition in a democratic dispensation. The parties in the PDM are well advised to abandon their agitation and have faith in the judicial system of the country.
If they feel that the process of accountability was a political vendetta against them, they should focus on proving their innocence in the courts of law. It is an opportunity for them to clear their names if they are innocent as claimed.
They must initiate engagement with the government for the electoral and systemic reforms which are badly needed to rectify the maladies afflicting our body politics and providing good governance to the people.
The tradition of destabilizing the sitting government has to end if democracy is to flourish in this country.
The people have mandated PTI to run the affairs of the country for five years and they are the best judge of its performance and to give their verdict through ballot.
Even if in the estimation of the opposition parties the government has failed to perform in the economic and social domain, they have no right to launch a movement for pulling it down. There are constitutional and legal means available to them to do so if the situation demands.
Digression from the constitutional path and resort to anti-democratic practices is neither going to serve the national interests nor their narrow political agendas.
The government has shown its willingness to engage with the opposition in regards to carrying forward the process of electoral and other reforms except accountability, very rightly so.
If the PDM wants free, fair and transparent elections they will have to sit with the government to deliberate on the issue and bring necessary legislation to plug the loopholes in the current system.
It cannot be settled on the streets. The government should be allowed to complete its mandated tenure irrespective of its alleged poor performance.
— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.