The democratic duel | Pakistan Today

The democratic duel

  • Is the government in peril?

Moving into the third month of governance, the PTI led government finds itself facing an opposition bracing for a duel, attempting to unite under the grand umbrella of democracy, or mutual political interests, as termed by the PTI leadership throughout. The corrupt political lot, according to the government, is desperately finding a way to safeguard itself from the proclaimed fair, and justified accountability drive supposedly aimed at curbing, and eliminating the menace of political corruption from our midst.

The opposition, on the other hand, is unanimously of the view that the so-called fair accountability drive is biased, and controversial, as it is specifically targeted at harassing the opposition party leaders alone, with no intention of laying a hand on crooks now in power; either as members of the ruling party, or via coalition. Something that PM Khan himself along with other PTI leaders used to agree to in the past. Being with PTI, perhaps, absolved them of their sins.

Resorting to a neutral analysis though, the opposition’s opinion gains ground over that of the government, as NAB, thus far, has intentionally or unintentionally been reluctant to act on corruption charges against the ruling party’s leaders, or coalition partners. PM Khan, having vowed zero tolerance on corruption, has also been silent on the issue, further empowering the perception of the PTI led government resorting to political victimization. Although what very well might be false, had there been a proactive persuasion by NAB to act on alleged corruption charges against the ruling party’s office bearers, the perception of the same might have been different.

The anti-corruption drive, ideally, must have started from government’s own home. A step, ironically, missing till date.

Whereas the government barely braced itself for a rough ride on the bumpy road overwhelmed with challenges ahead, a united opposition aiming to launch a no-confidence movement against the PM, and the government would prove nothing less than a nightmare, and will certainly top the long list of challenges. After all, the challenges following in the list can only be addressed by staying in the business of governance first. Driven out will leave nothing at PTI’s hand.

Whereas the future will unfold the events and their consequences in coming time, the need of the hour is to support, and strengthen the democratic structure

The rumors, and talks on the opposition gearing up against the PM, and the government gained potential weight following former president of Pakistan, and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, appearing before the media indicating that the opposition, subject to unification, might launch a possible movement against the government.

“This government can neither function, nor could it function the country”, Zardari assertively stated while responding to media correspondents. The former President went on hinting on a possible alliance with longing political rival PML-N despite the gaps between two parties. He also ruled out the rumors of any NRO (National Reconciliation Order) in the making, terming them as government’s tactics to distract the nation’s attention from real issues.

Following the press conference, the PPP co-chairman went on to meet with MMA chief, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman. The two later in a press conference hinted at an APC of the opposition parties to further devise the strategy on the way forward.

On the other hand, the PML-N practiced caution in its response to the offer by Zardari.The party will evaluate the offer hinted at (by PPP co-chairman), and the possible option of no-confidence movement against the government in the party’s meeting”, stated Maryam Aurangzaib, spokesperson for the party.

Come what may, a launch of no-confidence movement by a united opposition, for whatever reasons, will not be a good omen for the new government. Particularly, seeing the graph of ruling party’s popularity going down in the by-elections compared to general election resulting in the former losing some of its key won-overconstituencies. The shift in public perception possibly owes its origin to government’s backtracking on some of its principle stands, increase in gas prices, possibly to be followed by a hike in electricity prices as well, abatement in subsidy to the public in Metro Bus project, so on and so forth.

While the government can attempt to, and stand justified in their unpopular steps so far, a harsh reality is that the common man lacks understanding of complicated economic, and financial issues, and primarily concerns him/herself with the facilitated provision of basic necessities of everyday life. Coupled with being emotional, our nation tends to judge, and judge fast. By-elections are a prime demonstration of the aforestated fact; although two months were certainly not enough to judge the new government’s performance. However, they sufficient enough to set the precedents for a possible future course the country will take, and this precisely aides in shaping the public perception.

A declining popularity graph among the public, combined with horrendous challenges pertaining to economy, and governance, the government might possibly face a tough time in retaining the political coalitions; particularly with small parties like MQM in Karachi, and BNP in Baluchistan. Both have already expressed their reservation over numerous issues.

With the opposition preparing for a full on duel with the government, the last thing PTI would want is for its coalition partners to seek separation from the government, and join the opposition’s movement. According to sources, the opposition is in talks with the government’s smaller coalition partners, and are almost there when it comes to securing the required numbers for being successful in their unified movement against the PM, and the government.

Whereas the future will unfold the events and their consequences in coming time, the need of the hour is to support, and strengthen the democratic structure in the country. It is, perhaps, too early in the day for the opposition to launch a no-confidence movement against the government. A rationally due amount of time must be given to the new government to perform, failing in which the opposition can play its cards. The government must also wake up to the bitter realities, and start acting appropriately rather than merely talking, and playing the old blame-game.

Moving forward rationally by both, the government and the opposition, is the call of time for now. The democratic duel can be saved for a later stage, as a premature misadventure will do more harm than service to democracy, the nation, and the country.