Soothing Friday!

THREE important developments that took place on Friday might have somewhat soothing effect on the overall political environment in the country, which has been marred with confusion and uncertainty for the last several months especially after dismissal of an elected Prime Minister through, what is being considered by some circles as, judicial coup. In what is generally believed and commented upon as the ‘balancing act’ of the judiciary, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the one hand dismissed plea of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, the opening of which could have implications for PML(N) in general and Mian Shahbaz Sharif in particular and on the other hand bailed out PTI by clearing Imran Khan of all allegations of corruption, brightening prospects for the Party in the coming general election. And on the same day, a meeting of parliamentarians, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, arrived at a consensus for adoption of much-delayed Constitutional Amendment Bill relating to delimitation of constituencies on 19th after the Government accepted demands of the opposition on Census.
As for the Supreme Court verdicts, though both sides of the divide have their own reservations and points of view but these should lead to much-needed reduction in political temperature. After the Supreme Court disqualified Mian Nawaz Sharif, a highly popular leader, PML(N) has reservations why Imran Khan has been given a clean chit and PTI has reasons to celebrate as axe has been taken away from the head of their leader. Irrespective of political sentiments, majority of people of Pakistan believe that popular leaders must not be axed through questionable means. Attempts to eliminate Mian Nawaz Sharif politically have played havoc with the national politics and led to complication of economic, social and security environment and challenges of the country. One wonders what would have happened if another popular leader – Imran Khan – faced the same fate at the hands of the judiciary. Even there should have been no disqualification of a person like Jehangir Khan Tareen, who is contributing immensely to economic development of the country by way of investments. But the fact remains that politicians have to blame themselves for the mess that we witness in the country where politicians are being sacrificed at the judicial altar. No one would oppose accountability and action against corrupt and those who misuse authority but attempts are being made to convey an impression as if there are no wrong-doers in the country except Nawaz Sharif and Jehangir Tareen. Anyhow, there is relief now both for PTI and PML(N) as Imran Khan and Shahbaz Sharif have been spared. However, it is also worth noting that while relief for Imran Khan is assured but Damocles sword has been left hanging on the head of Shahbaz in the shape of possibility of review petition by NAB despite the fact that the case was a past and closed transaction. It is time for politicians to follow rules of the game, as advised by President Mamnoon Hussain the same day while addressing Quaid-i-Azam seminar. Politicians and political parties can differ with one another but all this should be strictly within the parameters of democratic norms and efforts must not be made to pull legs of others just for the sake of power even at the cost of doing harm to the country and the society. What a shame that a sizeable and nuclear power country with potential to play a leading role in addressing regional challenges and those to the Ummah has been turned impotent because of internal wrangling for power and shaping and de-shaping of political scene to our own liking. There would be no problem if laws and the Constitution are acted upon in letter and spirit by all stakeholders. Absence of rule of law and losing grip of the state could lead us to catastrophic consequences. Meanwhile, the agreement struck by the Government and the Opposition on the issue of delimitation of constituencies also showed that the political parties and politicians have the potential to address the challenges and steer the country out of crises if they sat on the table and tried sincerely to resolve all issues peacefully through dialogue and not on streets and through sit-ins. Making and unmaking of alliances prior to elections is a natural phenomenon but there should be no foul play and all parties should contribute towards the goal of timely elections and smooth transfer of power.

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