Feb 19, 2009

Political accommodation

The flurry of political activities is at its peak as the Senate elections are drawing near. The positive aspect in the whole process is that the political parties seem to have an across the board consensus on keeping it a healthy and peaceful exercise. News reports say that 11 senators will be elected unopposed from Punjab as three major political parties, i.e. PML-N, PPP and PML-Q have developed an understanding. According to the plan, six senators of Punjab will be from PML-N, four from PPP and one from PML-Q. While Jahangir Badar and other three senators of PPP have been finalized from Punjab, PML-Q finalized the name of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and agreed to withdraw other nominations. It is heartening to hear from Shujaat that he and his party were ready to make alliance with any political party in the interest of the country. Mushahid Hussain Syed, PML-Q secretary general, who announced that he would withdraw nominations for Senate election, rightly said that “there should be a ceasefire among all political parties”. Similarly, the provincial leaderships of PPP, ANP and JUI-F have also decided to form an alliance and make a joint panel of candidates for the Senate elections. The alliances occur in the wake of a meeting between the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif with Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad at the Governor’s House in which both the leaders made a pledge of working in the larger interest of the country. The spirit of political reconciliation would help avoid horse trading in Senate elections in Punjab and elsewhere and would clear the air of political confrontation and uncertainty. In a similar show of cooperative spirit early last year, the MQM had decided to withdraw the candidature of Farooq Sattar who was to contest the election for premiership against the combined candidate of the PPP and the PML-N. That had come about after PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari spoke to Altaf Hussain over the telephone. Again, after signing the Charter of Democracy (CoD) in 2006, the two parties had buried the hatchet for the welfare of Pakistan. Both the main political parties closed their ranks and signed the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that asked for the implementation of the 1973 Constitution without any amendments. For some time after the elections, in which the PPP and PML-N emerged as the biggest parties, all seemed to be going well. Cracks began to appear between the too parties on the issue of the restoration of the judiciary. Inexplicable delay in the materialisation of their promise raised many an eyebrow. It was then observed that after the impeachment of Musharraf, any move for the restoration of the judiciary would lead to a confrontation between the PPP and the PML-N. It is reassuring to see that political parties have risen above petty squabbles and conferred together to resolve the issues at hand through political means. If the political forces opt for going into different directions, the only beneficiary would be the undemocratic forces that were defeated in the February 18 elections. The supremacy of parliament should be ensured to save the system from breaking down completely. For genuine democracy to flourish in Pakistan, politically motivated pressure tactics must not be used anymore. The coalition of the two major political parties of Pakistan, the PPP and the PML-N, apart from other parties, was welcomed by the nation wholeheartedly. In the same spirit, the political parties should continue adopting a give and take approach to steer the country out of the present crisis.

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