Seeing democracy through
What we have here is unchartered territory. If this government manages to successfully and peacefully transfer power to the next elected government, it would be a first in Pakistani history and could well be one of the ruling party’s biggest achievements. One that is actually more impressive than it sounds.
Now though the wily navigation of President Zardari is often credited for this, credit is also due to the principal opposition party, the PML(N). The League has resisted, though only barely at times, the temptation to throw off the friendly opposition tag by suggesting something absolutely disruptive. Old habits die hard and the rank and file of the League's machine itself won't mind seeing the back of the PPP even if it were accomplished through some extra-constitutional action.
But the whole thing isn't over till it's over. There are plenty of kinks to be ironed out here. As has been reported by this paper, parleys between the two parties have been going on to discuss all contentious issues. The biggest stumbling block, according to the report is the issue of writing the infamous letter to the Swiss authorities. The PPP, it appears, wants to delay the court’s orders whereas the PML(N) wants the issue to be resolved before the caretaker administration takes it up. One possibility that they have proposed is for a commission to write the letter and not put the government in a bind to begin with.
But since the League wants to also fight the allegations of an oligopoly by parties like the PTI, they want these talks to be made public and that they should be formalised. The Bhurban Accord and the like didn’t leave a good taste for the League to be considering things along those lines but more power to them for letting bygones be bygones.
The fluency and continuity of the democratic process is of paramount importance. This government has been elected by an electorate that knew its tenure. The government, therefore, has not lost its mandate, not in the legal sense of the word anyway.
A pat on the back for both parties and, for that matter, all democratic forces, if we make it till February.