CITY NOTES: Counting on the same page

What happened at the joint session will always be held up as an example of democracy in action. The PTI will be able to pull aside foreign delegates and force them to listen to another expounding of how democracy can be used to yield positive results.

The Supreme Court may be asked to adjudicate on whether Speaker Asad Qiser can count or not. It was also interesting to see PM’s Parliamentary Affairs Adviser Babar Awan, who is not a member of either House of Parliament, conduct the proceedings, raking up the seat which the Constitution undoubtedly gives him, but which unelected Advisers don’t take up out of a consideration for the proprieties.

The interesting thing is that the Minister in-charge, Azam Swati, was present as a member of the Senate. He obviously felt he couldn’t handle the marathon task, and left it to Dr Awan. I wonder not just why Mr Swati left his chance to shine to Dr Awan (and boy, do politicians love a moment in the sun!), but why the PTI could not find an elected member to conduct its business. It gives me the feeling that if Imran could have managed it, he would have preferred not to have to mind a constituency. Perhaps that is why he would prefer the presidential system. The whole country votes for the President, not just one constituency.

But be that as it may, the whole process was magnificently managed. It was proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the government is on the same page as you-know-who. Particularly important was the Electronic Voting Machines Act, and the i-voting for overseas Pakistanis, which will ensure that any future government elected will also be on the same page.

Being on the same page is important. All those blaming certain individuals for imposing Imran on us should realize that if they had remained on the chase page, no one would have been forced to bring Imran. So actually, it’s their fault that we’ve got Imran.

What does Imran have to offer if it’s not being on the same page? His economic policy? The anti-corruption drive which has not led to a single conviction so far? The secret of reverse swing? Or a cure for cancer? I wonder if the ECP can deliver on the EVMs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Election Commission can do it. Not because they’re pro-Nawaz, or because they expect a rake-off from the EVM contract (as Azam Swati and Fawad Chaudhry said), but because it has so many bureaucrats, whose ability to actually do anything is a little doubtful. The ECP needs to get on the same page, and deliver positive results. It must give up this strange fixation about free and fair elections, and remember that polls are held only so that no action under Article 6 be taken. True, Article 6 may not mean much, after General Musharraf got away, but the sentence passed on him will haunt all his successors.

Still, there are some untidy remnants of the past. Look at what Rana Shamim, an ex-chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, has been saying about ex-CJP Mr Justice Saqib Nisar. All I can say is that Rana Shamim was obviously not on the same page. If you look at the subtext of what he said, it shows that certain people or organizations can get whatever judgments they want. The present Chief Justice’s firm rebuttal nonetheless, and his declaration that justice is being done, indicate that somebody was not fit to hold judicial office. Justice is a funny hing. It is being done if judgments are made in our favour, but not if against us. Doing justice can come into conflict with remaining on the same page.

One person who seems to want to stay on the same page is Indian PM Narendra Modi, who finally gave in to the demands of Indian farmers to repeal legislation they didn’t like. The Opposition is exploring avenues, but I don’t think mobilising farmers is a priority. The Opposition is also seeking ways of getting on the same page.


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