Feb 27, 2009

Whither politics?

The country seems to be headed towards a period of political uncertainty as the confrontation between the PML-N and PPP is growing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s verdict against the Sharifs. It is being debated whether the requisition to call the Punjab Assembly session was first sent to the Assembly or Governor’s rule was imposed. If the later is the case, the imposition of Governor’s rule stands challenged in the eyes of law. By various accounts it seems that the requisition for Assembly’s session was sent before Governor’s rule was clamped on Punjab. Whatever the actual constitutional position may be, one thing is very clear: the country is not prepared to face the political crisis that will result in more hardships for the common man. Protests over the disqualification of the Sharifs by the SC entered into the second day. That demonstrations took place at various places in the provincial capital and elsewhere shows that the protests are likely to continue for some time. The PML-N leadership has showed its commitment to start a movement from Lahore that would spread out to the whole country. The Mall in Lahore, as usual, remained the centre of activity where PML-N parliamentarians led the protesters. The protest march on The Mall forced the shopkeepers to close their businesses early. The protesters attempted to enter the Governor’s House but were stopped by the police. The traffic police had to make 20 temporary routes to regulate traffic as people started heading to their homes after protests broke out. Markets were also shut down early fearing violence. Uncertainty and violence had its negative effects on the big business too. The Karachi Stock Exchange became the first casualty of political chaos. The news of Sharif brothers’ ineligibility took its toll on benchmark KSE-100, which plunged by 294 points — the heaviest fall in recent weeks. With the bitter memories of floor and electricity crisis alive in businessmen’s minds, the brokerage community is worried about the recent political developments taking place. At this critical juncture comes a report of a US-based think tank which says that Pakistan is on a trajectory to failure as a democratic state and needs $4 billion in US aid and loans each year to stand on its own feet. The report says Pakistan has six to 12 months to implement economic and security policies. If it fails, it will have to “face the very real prospect of considerable domestic and political turbulence”. While the US has termed the SC verdict as Pakistan’s internal matter and has refused to comment on it, the politicians and leaders of Pakistan should realise that political chaos only lets anti-Pakistan forces to consolidate their position. The PPP and PML-N are the two main political parties of the country, if they remain hostile to each other, country’s future prospects are not hard to judge. Understandably, the people of Pakistan had pinned a lot of hopes on these two political parties after the February 18 elections. Later, for some time, the two political parties showed some amount of commitment to the cause of democracy. If the PPP believes that it has played no role in the disqualification of the Sharif brothers then a clear statement to this effect should come from the highest level as a goodwill gesture to lower the political temperature. If the two sides fail to address each other’s concerns and continue to maintain an aggressive posture the only loser will be democracy and the people of Pakistan. The doors of dialogue should never be closed in the larger interest of the country.

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