Mar 7, 2009
Trading in loyalties
Saturday, March 07, 2009As the political climate heats up further, climbing towards possible boiling point during the few weeks ahead, there have now been open allegations of the most blatant horse-trading in Punjab. The PPP seems finally to have won over the loyalty of a female MPA, elected on a reserved seat. The MPA, backed by her father and father-in-law, claims the support of other female MPAs and the emergence of a forward bloc within the PML-N. The party and its female MPAs hotly deny this, with the PML-N claiming that an attempt was made to persuade Shahbaz Sharif to buy back the vote of the MPA by paying her the same amount as that offered by the PPP. They say that the support of the MPA was not counted when 207 votes for the PML-N were totted up in a show of strength a few days ago.We have all seen acts of political dishonesty similar to the one we see now in the past. These have been a factor in the lowered public standing of all politicians in the eyes of people. The events now taking place are undoubtedly ugly. But they are also dangerous as they come in a climate of worsening stability in the country. While meetings between politicians allied with the government and Mian Nawaz Sharif continue, there are growing apprehensions over what direction we are headed in. There has been speculation of dramatic upheaval, either before or soon after the long march gets underway. As panic levels increase, the PPP is said to be considering calling an immediate APC. There are indications it may be willing to end governor's rule in Punjab, although the key term set by the PML-N for reconciliation – the restoration of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry seems unlikely to be met.As events continue to gather pace, the developments in Punjab are especially significant. The removal of the Shahbaz Sharif government last month has been a key factor in the mounting sense of crisis. Horse-trading has been a source of political instability in past decades. Its open re-emergence at this point is disturbing, and demonstrates also that politicians care nothing for the stability of their nation or for the need to preserve democracy within it in times of steadily rising desperation. We can only hope good sense will finally prevail, before we are plunged into a new period of uncertainty which will prove disastrous for the country in more ways than one.