Malfunctioning parties

Mustafa Khokhar’s resignation shows up a malaise that afflicts all parties

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar’s resignation from the Senate will not affect the PPP’s representation in the Upper Hpuse, as he was elected from Sindh, where the PPP has an absolute majority in the Sindh Assembly, and can easily elect a replacement. However, especially when coupled with the troubles of Aitzaz Ahsan in the party, the circumstances surrounding his resignation shed a garish light on inner-party democracy.

The PPPwas the party most likely not to silence dissenting voices.While there was no dispute allowed over the leadership,which had to go to a member of the Bhutto family,there was nonetheless a tradition of lively internal debate, and expressions of personalopinion.Mr Khokhar had two strikes against him. He had admitted that Balochistan Awami Party Senators had been approached to vote for Yousaf Reza Gilani as Senate chairman. A year down the line, he had –

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Expressed outrage at the alleged police brutality committed upon PTI chairman Imran Khan’s chief of staff Shahbaz Gill. Dr Gill had been in custody on a charge of inciting mutiny in the armed forces.

Mr Aitzaz Ahsan had got into hot water for alleging that COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had helped Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PML(N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz be acquitted of charges against them, a charge similar to that weeted by PTI ex-minister Azam Swati, which had led to his detention. He got into further trouble by going to see PTI chief Imran Khan after the attack on him. He is one of those suspected to switching to the PTI, though he has strongly denied this, as is Mr Khokhar. It does seem that the PPP will not tolerate any criticism of the Army leadership, as in Mr Ahsan’s case, or even of support for someone who has expressed criticism, as in the case of Mr Khokhar. The other parties cannot claim to be much better. Indeed, the PPP’s present ally, the PML(N), and its opponent, the PTI, are probably worse at tolerating inner-party dissent, even though freedom of expression allows the kind of debate that lets a party stay relevant.If the PPP cannot tolerate Mr Khokhar and Mr Ahsan, even if they are not just wrong but wrongheaded, then it needs to look at itself closely. Rumours of switches to other parties could well become self-fulfilling prophecies.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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