Forgive and forget

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PRESIDENT Dr Arif Alvi, who has been taking keen interest in lowering the rising tension in national politics, has emphasised the need to make reforms and revitalisation of economy as the prime objective and advocated the approach of forgive and forget to make a new beginning for the overall benefit of the country.

The President had a wide-ranging interaction with media-persons, members of the business community and foreign diplomats at a function in Karachi and responded candidly to difficult questions that agitate the minds of the people.

The frank remarks, admissions and suggestions of the President on different issues have made many things clear and political bitterness can certainly subside if other players also adopt a complementary approach to the complex political scenario.

The acknowledgement of the President that the former Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa helped PTI in the previous general election and during crucial elections for the upper house of parliament corroborates accusation of some political parties that things were managed to the benefit of the PTI.

This admission puts a big question mark to the legitimacy of the previous government, belittling its hue and cry over the loss of its mandate and raising accusing fingers towards the former COAS vis-à-vis the narrative of regime change.

He also made an interesting observation that if the Pakistan Army has become really neutral then politicians should come forward and take charge of the situation instead of creating situations where they have to run to them (for undue help).

This should serve as a food for thought for our politicians who have still not learnt from the mistakes of the past.

The President also rightly pointed out that national institutions did not play their role as they should have, otherwise the country would not have faced the kind of crises it is facing today.

He legitimately expressed dismay over the historical reality of the courts allowing a dictator to amend the Constitution and interference in purely administrative and economic matters like the Reko Diq agreement as a result of which the country had to face a colossal fine of $7 billion.

Unfortunately, self-serving interpretation of the Constitution and the law continues todate and as a consequence the country is sinking deep in political, economic and constitutional mess.

The President, who has intimate knowledge of many developments, also acknowledged that there was widespread interference in the working of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and that it was damn easy to put someone behind bars merely on accusations.

This also explains the rationale for amendments in the accountability law with a view to preventing misuse of its powers and manipulation of the institution by others.

We hope the Supreme Court, which is seized with the case pertaining to amendments in the accountability law by the elected parliament, would keep this reality in view while deciding the case.

The President has once again talked about early elections, revealing that he informally proposed to the government and the opposition to hold a general election in April or May, a proposition, which is being made by PTI leader Imran Khan as well who said the other day that the Establishment would see to it that polls are held in March or April.

There are different moves on the issue by the government, the opposition and other stakeholders and it is to be seen what ultimately transpires.

However, it may be pointed out that the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), an affiliate think tank of the Planning Commission, has proposed a viable solution to the political and economic instability of the country.

In its Charter of Economy, a Petition to All Political Leaders/Parties of Pakistan, the think tank has proposed, among other things, reduction of the term of the National Assembly from the existing five to three years, limiting size of the cabinet to a maximum of 25, inclusion of experts in the cabinet, direct elections for Senate and local government elections.

The five- year term is at the roots of the political instability as longer rule makes the opposition desperate to go for fair and unfair means to dislodge the government.

And rampant corruption that one witnesses on the occasion of indirect Senate elections can also be checked to a great extent if Senators are also elected directly along with MNAs.

Observations of the President on different issues and saner proposals made by PIDE should form part of the process of electoral reforms that the Government vows to undertake before the next general election.