“…and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep…”
Thanks to its massive Punjab based mandate the PML-N might get the 23rd Constitutional Amendment and the amendment to the Pakistan Army Act through the National Assembly today. But steering the two through the Senate – where all federal units are equally represented – will be an uphill task. In the Upper House, comprising 104 members, the PML-N commands only 26 votes while it needs 44 more to attain a two thirds majority. Except for the PTI which has only seven members in the House other parties despite agreeing to extend the term of the military courts do not appear enthusiastic about the exercise. The PPP with 27 members and the MQM with 8 have so far taken little interest in ensuring the presence of their members in the House on Tuesday. Five senators being either out of the country or seriously ill, their participation in Tuesday’s proceedings seems doubtful. Raza Rabbani has expressed serious reservations about the military courts and is likely to abstain from casting the vote.
For nearly four years the PML-N did practically nothing to create a space for itself in the three other provinces, particularly Sindh which is the second largest in population. Soon after 2013 elections a number of Sindhi leaders including Mumtaz Bhutto and Murtaza Jatoi had joined the PML-N. Later realising that the party leadership was contended with marinating its dominance in Punjab and had little time to expand or consolidate the party in Sindh, they regretted the decision and bade PML-N goodbye. Unable to make a dent on its own in the PPP’s stronghold the opposition in Sindh was looking to join hands with the PML-N. The PML-N however did not reciprocate.
Turning the PML-N into a Punjab centric party has harmed both the federation and the PML-N. The PML-N leadership neglected to hold the CCI meetings with the result that unresolved inter-provincial disputes continue to cause disharmony. Nawaz Sharif has not only failed to arbitrate between the PPP and MQM, he has even failed to use their differences to ensure the passage of the amendments in the Senate.