Imported or selected: values lost

The country needs the government to work with the opposition

The supporters of the joint opposition are happy that they are back in “Purana Pakistan” and everything will be perfect from now onwards. The PTI supporters on the other hand are depressed as their “Naya Pakistan” dream is over for now and they are back where everything is wrong.

Supporters of both sides, be it on social media platforms, informal meetings or public gatherings, have crossed all limits while going in support and defence of their political affiliations. Supporters of both sides have justified the actions, right or wrong, of their political parties. And in doing so they have not bothered to consider whether the justification provided by them is legitimate or not. Whether the action or act they are justifying is even justifiable or not.

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In the last couple of months, many important developments have taken place in Pakistan’s politics. New developments take place with each passing day in politics and it is the way democratic societies move forward. But, many unfortunate events in the last couple of weeks have marred the whole process.

And, the most worrying aspect is the response those events received from the followers of different political parties. The differences among the supporters of different political parties are so intense that they even justify wrong acts knowing that the acts are wrong and should not be justified just to prove their political parties right.

What happened in the Punjab Assembly was horrifying and a moment of shame for the whole country. Not only was the sanctity of the Assembly compromised but wrong precedents were also set by the members of the assembly and their supporters.

The government and opposition, in their accusations and blame game, reach a stage where the values (tolerance, acceptance, integrity) that are the essence of a democratic country have no worth for them. And, this shapes the conduct and behaviours of their supporters who cross every limit to support them.

Having a difference of opinion is a right but forcing others to hold the same is wrong. There is no justification for the incidents that took place with the Deputy Speaker and the Speaker of the Punjab Assembly. Irrespective of the party one supports, one has to agree that those shameful incidents should not have taken place. And, everyone should have condemned those incidents irrespective of the party differences. But, unfortunately, many justified those inhuman behaviours.

This was not the first time quarrelling took place in the Punjab Assembly, but this time things got out of hand quickly. The same is the case with other Provincial assemblies and even the National Assembly where Lawmakers abuse and fight with each other.

The current justification of those horrific acts is not a new phenomenon. Supporters of political parties have reached this stage over time. This sheds light on the lack of a culture of tolerance and acceptance among the followers of different political parties. Everyone seems to be stuck with his opinion that he deems right and is not in a state of mind to listen to others.

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The lack of acceptance and tolerance culture among the supporters of different political parties and the current political polarization owes much to the government-opposition relationship in Pakistan over the years.

Government and Opposition both work for the betterment of the country. And their working and productive relationship is very essential for the development of the state. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, this is very rare.

The PTI came to power in 2018. It was given a majority by the people. But since the day its government started, the opposition claimed that it was a selected government and had a stolen mandate. And, till the day the PTI government was ousted by the joint opposition this narrative never changed. In pursuance of this narrative,iInstitutions were blamed and the government was criticized. The PTI government on the other hand considered itself a legitimate government that came to power with the public vote.

Similarly, the PDM, which came to power with the success of the no-trust motion, considers itself the only solution to Pakistan’s problems and a truly representative government of the people.

However, the PTI on the other hand has called it an “Imported government” that has come to power as a result of a foreign conspiracy.

These are two different narratives. Both sides convince their supporters that they are telling the truth. This shapes the mindset of their supporters. And they believe their narratives to be true without applying their minds. So this makes them stick to their point of view in a way that they believe their views only to be true and every other point of view false.

This has been going on in Pakistan since its inception. The fact that no Prime Minister has ever completed his term and the first democratic government completed its term only in 2013, tells about the Government-Opposition relationship in the country.

It doesn’t matter if we live in a “Naya Pakistan ” or “Purana Pakistan”, Pakistan will progress only if the government and Opposition relationship is developing and encouraging.

The party that forms the government should take into confidence the losing parties and work jointly. While the losing parties should do their job of criticising, evaluating and acting as a check on the government policies and work with the government for the betterment of the country.

The government should also accept the opposition’s role instead of just grinding it. The opposition should act as a check on the government policies rather than just criticising and blaming the government.

And, this can not happen unless every political party has confidence in the electoral process. Unless every political party accepts the public decision. Unless the losing parties accept their defeat wholeheartedly. And, this does not seem to happen in the near future as the political parties do not seem to be interested in solving this crisis.

Every government tries to introduce electoral reforms. But, the opposition does not approve of those reforms. This has been going on for years. For example, the PTI government introduced electoral reforms but the opposition rejected them. Now, PDM is in power with the purpose of electoral reforms but it will be a useless exercise as the opposition’s benches are empty now.

The government and opposition, in their accusations and blame game, reach a stage where the values (tolerance, acceptance, integrity) that are the essence of a democratic country have no worth for them. And, this shapes the conduct and behaviours of their supporters who cross every limit to support them.

Muhammad Ali Alvi
Muhammad Ali Alvi
The writer is freelance columnist

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