Opposition betraying its mandate
PDM an alliance of eleven political parties which came together to pull down the incumbent government— which they thought was selected rather than elected- and as it claimed to restore real democracy in the country, has split apart as PPP which was instrumental to its formation has bid adieu to it along with ANP. There seems no chance of reintegration of the estranged parties with PDM.
The PDM without PPP and ANP has actually ceased to exist though the residual parties still prefer to use that nomenclature.
Those who had a deep insight into the political history of Pakistan, particularly the rivalry between PML (N) and PPP the two major components of the PDM 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 directions sounding death knell for the alliance.
The fact is that the PPP right from the beginning was not comfortable with the idea of resignations and the anti-establishment narrative of PML (N).
Another factor which might have prompted PPP to have Yousaf Raza Gilani elected as leader of the opposition in the Senate—which ostensibly is the reason for the parting of the ways — is that the PML(N) move to have its Senators elected in Punjab with an understanding with PTI did not go well with it.
With this split in the alliance, the truncated PDM now stands no chance of achieving its objectives for which it came into being though after a recently-held meeting of the heads of the parties left in the PDM, the defunct alliance has decided to hold public rallies and continue with their campaign to dislodge the government.
PPP and ANP on their own are also not in a position to pose any threat to the government.
Even when all the parties were in the PDM, they failed to impart the required momentum to their anti-government move as the masses showed no keenness to support them.
They remained indifferent to this 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.
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.
The opposition parties by trying to remove the government and not fulfilling their obligations as required in a democratic dispensation, are actually betraying their mandate.
If the ruling party has been mandated to rule, they are mandated to act as a responsible opposition.
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 agenda.
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.
There is almost a national on the point that the prevalent electoral system is extremely flawed and needs to reformed besides bringing changes to the system of governance. The opposition parties also subscribe to this view.
Therefore their foremost duty is to join hands with the government to deliberate on those issues instead of creating chaos in the country.
The government has shown its willingness to engage with the opposition in regards to carrying forward the process of electoral and other reforms except compromising on accountability and very rightly so.
One of the basic pillars on which democracy stands is accountability of the public representative and there should be no compromise on that account.
The government should be allowed to complete its mandated tenure irrespective of its alleged poor performance.
That is not a legitimate excuse for the opposition parties to have the government dislodged through unconstitutional means. It is already a lost cause.
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 let the law take its course. National interest takes precedence over politicking which can wait for better times.
Electoral and systemic reforms are badly needed to strengthen democracy and setting at rest forever the controversy that surrounds every election in the country leading to political instability.
— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.