Flipside of the coin

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Zaheer Bhatti

Amid unabated tirade against the sitting Government in Pakistan, Government’s own faux pas on sensitive matters, threaten to undo whatever tangible development has been achieved by it. There admittedly is a sea change in the look and facilities in major towns dominantly in Pakistan’s Punjab Province the largest in terms of population and also ruled by the PML(N). Lahore undoubtedly comes across as a Provincial metropolis whose planners have catered to its burgeoning population with an array of underpasses, overheads and Ring Roads besides the metro bus and now in the offing the Orange Line Train Service and Recreation Parks for the public. Every six months or so that one visits the city it bears a transformed look.
Government critics mostly the political opposition whose job it is to run down the sitting Government, are invariably joined in by some partisan media outlets which never miss a moment to foul-mouth against the Government instead of presenting an unbiased picture of performance or the lack of it. They all have two major planks of criticism; concentration upon Lahore at the expense of other towns and presumptuous kick-backs and corruption in award of infrastructure development contracts, though without any substantive evidence or proof.
It is hard for the opposition which has nothing to show in terms of performance itself, to digest development work of the sitting Government besides rise in family fortunes of the Sharif family which has been in business for over half a century and progressed despite sanctions against it and confiscation of running Mills and assets by ZAB and Musharraf in the past. Government critics have conveniently chosen not to question the upstart gains of countless many among their own ranks falsifying their chorus against corruption.
In the instant cases against Nawaz Sharif for whom this scribe holds no quarter, the Apex Court remarking and reacting beyond the scope of its judgments, protracting proceedings needlessly instead of straightaway referring applications against the Prime Minister to the Trial Court which it had earlier refused to entertain, has created an upheaval reflecting negatively upon the national economy and overall security situation of the country. This gave Nawaz Sharif an excuse to play the martyr; though in doing so he is also seen crossing the limits.
The flipside of the coin is that some tangible developmental achievements of the PML(N) Government is being put to dust with the worsening law and order in the country, and its indifferent performance in the spheres of Foreign Policy and Economy. Rape and murder of a 7-year old, indifference as usual by law enforcement agencies and political mileage sought out of the human tragedy by the opposition particularly Tahir-ul-Qadri’s instigation after funeral prayers, was detestable to say the least. Nawaz Sharif’s tantrums are beginning to weigh negatively over his Party’s prospects in the coming general election, more so when the senior Mian appears to be losing his grip not only over some of his party ranks but more importantly at this juncture over affairs in Baluchistan where a no-confidence move initiated by his own Party MPs has resulted in resignation of his half-term nominee Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, with his odd man out affiliate Mahmood Achakzai and the JUI Chief failing to avert the move.
It is a shame that despite the gilt-edged opportunity provided by CPEC to address the woes, negligence and deprivation of the Province by prioritizing development in Balochistan, its people’s representatives have badly mistimed the no-confidence move and facilitated a suicide bombing minutes after the Assembly debacle rendering the Red Zone vulnerable to security in strategic Balochistan marked on the global chessboard by the enemies of the State.
Any future PML(N) claims to running the country, will be subject to abandoning its policy of appeasing Pakistan’s adversaries who are by now proven not to let up in their covert and overt operations against it besides always running down and targeting its Army. Instead of continuing on war path internally himself while also misleading his otherwise promising daughter to pick up cudgels with the defenders of the motherland, Mian Sahib is well advised to mend fences with the Khakis rather than antagonize them. By pronouncing secessionist Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman a patriot, whose Agartala conspiracy in league with India culminating in severing of East Pakistan was no secret, he has yet again shot himself in the foot.
Without national security which is under continued attack from India under US patronage, there can be no sustainable development; nose-diving value of the Pakistani Rupee and frequent raise in petrol prices being testimony against flawed perception and claim to development, clearly pointing to failure of the Government to boost exports while impairing purchasing power of the common man by 40%; so much for the Government’s services to the people whose support it does not tire claiming.
Inability to sell Pakistani narrative to the world by refusing to have a Foreign Minister and revamp its dysfunctional diplomatic team during most of its tenure, PML(N) major domo needs to pursue aggressive and proactive diplomacy to apprise nations of the world of Pakistan’s contribution and unequal treatment by forces inimical to its national interests. Pivotal to Pakistan is the core issue of Kashmir which the UN is ignoring to resolve, while India supported by the US continues its worst State terrorism in its occupied Kashmir.
With Trump hurling threats which are no fantasy, it is time both Pakistan and China fortify their joint economic and security defences. If the US and India can collaborate in Afghanistan, why Pakistan, China, Russia, Turkey and Iran cannot have a joint defence to thwart adversary designs in the region. Apart from dealing prudently with the US threat on the basis of reciprocity, the first amends Pakistan needs to make is to immediately actualize its pipeline from Iran suspended due to US pressure since it is no longer under any obligation.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.