Government should ensure political stability
ON 3 March 2021, in the Pakistan Senate election for the general seat from Islamabad the candidate of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Yousaf Raza Gilani won the election by defeating the Government candidate, Hafeez Sheikh by the margin of five votes, despite that the Government with its allied parties had 180 members and that the PDM, comprising 11 political parties had 160 members to vote in their favour.
While the PDM leaders stated that some estranged PTI members of the National Assembly had voted in their favour, the PTI blamed the Opposition for bribing some PTI members to vote for its candidate.
Based on the above stated situation, in view of PDM’s criticism that the Prime Minister Imran Khan had lost his majority in the National Assembly, the PM took the initiative to get a vote of trust, which he attained by getting 178 votes out of the 341 members National Assembly.
After getting the vote of confidence, while the PM thanked PTI and his allied members of the National Assembly for reposing confidence in him, some of his allies, in their speeches reminded the PM to look after his allies if he wanted to keep the Government strong and united.
Here, it looks appropriate to remind the readers that the PDM was recently formed to exploit the Government’s two major weaknesses, the rising prices of daily use commodities, which had gone out of the reach of the poor masses and the second was that the PTI and its allied parties’ members of the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies were not happy as the Government did not provide timely funds for the development work in their constituencies for which they were not only being criticized by the PDM but also by the people of their constituencies, as no development work was visible on ground.
And, whatever work was done on ground it was not being properly publicized by the Government to keep the people well informed.
Moreover, as compared with the Opposition, Government’s media management was poor.
Whereas the government’s these short comings had given an opportunity to the PDM to carry out their anti-government protest movement, it had also dented the PTI Government’s popularity and this whole situation had caused political instability, due to which the foreign investors were losing confidence.
In view of the above situation, now that the PM has got the vote of confidence with a clear majority, to keep the political stability in the country, it is necessary that the PM and the other members of his Government immediately adopt people-friendly policies with the main emphasis on keeping the prices under control within the easy reach of the poor masses, who have the majority of votes to keep the government in power and to enable PTI to also win the next elections.
To facilitate the people to cope with the high prices and to neutralize the already carried out devaluation of the rupee, it is also important that in the coming budget, the government increases the pay and pensions at least by 20 percent and also raises the daily wages of the labour accordingly.
This should not be difficult, especially when the government has announced many times that foreign remittances have increased manifold and the tax collection targets are being surpassed for the last many months.
The government should also release the development funds to the electoral constituencies so that the MNAs/MPAs can get the urgent development tasks completed before the next general elections to enable the people to decide to elect them again. The ongoing development works should also be well publicized.
Also, the PM, and the Chief Ministers should frequently visit various constituencies to witness the development works, and to minimize the chances of corruption and ensure quality control, a monitoring system should be created for each district out of the existing resources.
While the Government’s anti-corruption drive should continue, this job should be handled by the Minister concerned, the NAB and the judiciary, and the PM and the other ministers/advisors should focus on their other responsibilities.
The common people now want to see positive results of the Government policies, which can be advantageous to them, rather than getting satisfied by the mere statements that the rising prices and other problems were due to the corruption carried out by the previous governments.
The PM, the Chief Ministers and other prominent party members should also ensure to keep unity among the party’s elected representatives by initiating the socio-economic development projects in their areas and by maintaining frequent interaction to avoid their dissatisfaction.
The PTI should also forge better coordination with the allied parties by looking after their interests and concerns to ensure their constant support.
The PTI Government’s success in the completion of the above suggested people friendly policies will keep political stability in Pakistan by not only neutralizing the PDM’s movement, but also by strengthening it to also win the next general elections to complete the accountability and socio-economic reforms agenda.
The PTI should also remember that its sluggish implementation of policies is being compared with the completion of underpasses and metros in ten-month time by Pervaiz Elahi and Shebaz Sharif as the former Chief Ministers of Punjab.
And, in Islamabad the test cases for the PTI Government for the timely completion are the projects of the widening of the Sawan River Bridge, Rawalpindi and Gulberg-Rawat part of Islamabad Expressway, in fact the major trade route of Pakistan.
However, in case of the Government’s failure to adopt the above mentioned policies, the PTI likely to invite political instability by losing its popularity and again empowering the people facing mega corruption charges.
—The writer is an ex-research fellow of IPRI and senior research fellow of SVI, Islamabad.