PTI’s tensions with PPP reminiscent of Benazir-Nawaz confrontation

Published: 03:30 PM, 11 Aug, 2021
PTI’s tensions with PPP reminiscent of Benazir-Nawaz confrontation
Caption: National Assembly
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Pakistan is governed by a parliamentary form of government.  

The PML-N and the PPP are the major parties that have alternately been ruling the country during the past decades, except for some spells of military dominance.

The 2018 elections brought the PTI to power at the Centre and in three provinces. 

Sindh, as usual, went to the PPP

A cursory look at the yesteryears shows that our parties have little tolerance for their rivals, especially when one is in power at the Centre and the other is running a province. They have been locking horns without any justification, hitting the national economy and other walks of life. 

What is more unfortunate is the fact that both sides claim to be on the right track, holding the rival responsible for the resultant mess. There’s little willingness to reform themselves, because of which there is no light at the end of the tunnel. 

The ongoing confrontation between the PTI, which is in power at the Centre, and the PPP which has been in power in Sindh continuously for the past 13 years, has established once again that the system is not working as it should. Neither party has tolerance for the other. Now there are reports that the PTI plans to capture Sindh as well, dislodging the PPP

The lack of cooperation between PTI and the PPP was established once again on Tuesday – when Prime Minister Imran Khan spent a busy day in Karachi.  

But Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was not invited to any meeting/event. 

The Sindh government claimed that the chief minister was unaware of the visit as he was not invited to any of the meetings chaired by the prime minister. 

Sindh government spokesman Barrister Murtaza Wahab was unsure whether the prime minister was chairing any meeting on Karachi projects.  

“I don’t know if there’s any meeting on Karachi projects scheduled during his visit. As far as I know he actually is coming to visit Karachi Port and then to Balochistan. That’s the reason, I think, that the chief minister [Sindh] and administrator [Karachi] were neither invited nor informed about his engagements,” he has been quoted as saying. 

However, a statement issued by the prime minister’s office came up with full details of Mr Imran Khan’s engagements in Karachi. 

This is not the first example of a lack of coordination between the federal government and the Sindh government.  

The relations between the two have been tense since day one- a situation reminiscent of the past tensions between the PPP and the PML. 

When Benazir Bhutto became prime minister after the 1988 elections, held after the death of Gen Ziaul Haq in a plane crash, the Punjab government headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif was her staunchest rival. 

The worst-ever confrontation was witnessed between the two governments. 

Whenever the prime minister had a plan to visit Lahore, the chief minister would leave for a visit out of Lahore. Consequently, she was not received by the provincial chief executive. And the situation remained unchanged till the 1990 elections.  

Surrounded by some opportunist advisers, Nawaz Sharif always portrayed himself as a parallel force. At times he gave the impression as if the chief minister was more important and powerful than the prime minister. 

It was during this period that the Punjab government expressed hatred for Pakistan Television, National Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan International Airlines and proposed their provincial equivalents. 

The establishment of Bank of Punjab, Punjab TV and Punjab TV were proposed at the time to bring an end to dependence on federal entities. 

It is ironic that the situation remains unchanged even after decades. The tolerance for the rivals required in the parliamentary system is nowhere to be seen.  And still both claim to be democrats.   

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.