Half-measures won’t do | By S R H Hashmi


Half-measures won’t do

IN his article of 20 March, titled ‘No-confidence motion and Imran Khan, Naveed Aman Khan has ably discussed the whole issue.

He has even described the emerging picture — the ouster of the PTI government – provided no powerful sector intervened in the process.

The writer has also warned that in case of defeat of the Opposition’s no-confidence motion, the government could turn more authoritarian.

And that is definitely not a prospect to look forward to in the circumstances where even now, the government is not being run with consensus.

There are stark differences not only within the party but also with coalition partners.

In this situation, how can there be any civility between the government and the combined opposition.

However, even the ouster of the government is unlikely to result in smooth sailing because, like the writer says “The ouster of the PTI government may not end the prevailing political uncertainty” and explains its reason, saying “There is still no agreement among the opposition parties over the next move if the no-confidence motion succeeds.

” However, Shahbaz Sharif has given some clues about his thinking regarding the future course of action by hinting towards formation of a national government.

And considering the relative strength of the opposition parties, perhaps PML-Q could be happy with the chief minister slot in Punjab, Asif Ali Zardari may like to become the president again – to avail immunity from prosecution for corruption – and the position of the prime minister could go to the PML-N.

And of course, there would be so many ministries and other positions to share among the coalition partners.

Of course, the success of the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly will not affect office of the President and the provincial assemblies.

However, through the use of conventional and unconventional means, the victors would be able to achieve their goals in this respect as well.

Unfortunately, while this situation could prove dream-come-true for partners in the new government, it will hardly bring good fortune to the members of public whose problems will multiply.

And this because as compared to the earlier situation of one or at the most a couple of Sharifs and Zardaris, now there are whole clans which would all like to make their fortunes from the limited revenue of the country, leaving crumbs for the masses, if they are lucky.

Additionally, some of the corrupt leaders who were very near to being convicted for their loot and plunder would get a new lease of life, and would work actively to defang further the accountability process, which was not very effective to start with.

And of course, that would mean not only the end of the accountability process but even abandonment of the anti-corruption slogan.

And that outcome hardly looks pretty.The conduct of our politicians reminds me of a story.

This is about a businessman who had amassed wealth by using all means fair and foul, though mostly foul.

He had cheated the public at large, his associates and employees, the state officials and just about everyone he had dealings with.

However, in the old age, he occasionally felt pricks of conscience and with the passage of time, these signals became louder, making him uneasy.

In the end, he went to a faith healer and narrated his story, and begged him to provide a solution.

After listening to his woeful tale, the person said “So in order to satisfy your conscience, you want to compensate the people who have suffered at your hands.

And the man replied “No, what I really want you to do is to turn down the volume of signals from my conscience.

I notice a striking resemblance between the character in the story and our traditional politicians.

And what is worse is that as against just a few of them in the start, we now have crowds, ready to strike gold.

And with the accountability process having been buried deep under the soil, just imagine what sort of free-for-all we may witness.

Now, is that what we really want?At different turns in our history, we have seen nearly all state institutions committing indiscretions of varying intensity.

It is mainly because of this that the democratic process never got a chance to grow, develop and firm up in Pakistan.

It was also because of this that half of the country got lost in a mere 24 years.And what is left is also facing various internal and external threats, most of which happen to be of our own making.

It is a shame that at a time when so much is happening in the region and beyond and when we need statesmen, we have a top leader who, despite advice to the contrary, displays boyish defiance and takes great pride in calling someone diesel.

And that shows his ‘level.’ We have also seen that on its own, neither of the existing major political parties can sort out the mess we are in.

And that brings us back to the idea of a national government — though a lot different from what Shahbaz conceives — which alone can solve our problems.

With the help and coordination of powerful sectors, we could form a government of national unity by picking competent persons of integrity from all parties, though leaving out their corrupt top leaders and others who actually belong to prison.

With the country already halved in a mere 24 years, we just cannot afford to have them around in government anymore.

We are in a desperate situation which demands drastic action and definitely not half-measures.

Let us hope and pray that for once, the powerful sectors rise and do what needs doing.

— The writer is senior political analyst based in Karachi.


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