Time to serve the nation rising above political divide

By Ashraf Mumtaz

February 22, 2021 07:30 AM

The PTI government is the third political setup after the unceremonious departure of President Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2008.

It was the PPP government that forced him to quit after a nine-year rule.  

After the general bade farewell to the political scene the PPP easily completed its mandated term. It was succeeded by the PML-N government which also remained in power for its full five-year term. 

The 2018 general elections brought the PTI to power, although its legitimacy is still being questioned by the opposition parties. They call Imran Khan the ‘selected’ prime minister.  

But despite tall claims made by all the three parties for bringing ‘revolutionary’ changes in the system, people’s problems have multiplied, making survival more and more difficult with the passage of time. It would not be wrong to say that every government lumbered the country with more foreign loans – adding to unbearable price hike because of the conditionalities attached to the loans. 

At present Pakistan is under a burden of  $112 billion loans and nobody knows how long would it take the nation to clear them. 

The incumbent government is poised to get more IMF loans in the near future, which will lead to more problems for the people who are already unable to make both ends meet. 

The irony is that each party during its tenure boasts of making historic achievements, cursing its predecessors of leaving behind countless problems.  

In this situation a question arises whether political parties represented in parliament are playing their respective roles efficiently and honestly. If the answer in the affirmative then why the common man’s fate remains unchanged and why the country is still facing the kind of problems that should have disappeared long ago. Why the Islamic republic could not become a prosperous state despite the fact that its leaders are super rich? 

Another question is whether the political parties have learnt from their past mistakes? If not, why? 

The PPP leaders, as also others in the opposition, level a number of allegations against the PTI government. They hold it responsible for a variety of problems facing the country. 

However, none remembers that the government of then prime minister Benazir Bhutto had been dismissed in August 1990 by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on charges of corruption, nepotism and other acts ''in contravention of the Constitution and the law.'' 

While reading out the charge sheet in his televised address the bureaucrat-turned-politician had also alleged that during the PPP rule the parliament had lost the confidence of the people. 

Right or wrong, the allegations are quite serious. 

The elections held after the removal of the PPP government brought the industrialist-turned-politician Nawaz Sharif to power. 

His government was also dismissed by same president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on charges of corruption and mismanagement. Mr Sharif's family-owned business grew tremendously during his tenure in office, causing suspicion of corruption. 

The dismissed leader challenged the presidential action as a result of which the Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement, calling the dismissal unconstitutional and the charges false.  

However, the two leaders could not co-exist and had to resign under pressure from then army chief. 

The new polls gave Benazir Bhutto a second chance to rule the country. Unfortunately, that setup had also been dismissed by then president Farooq Leghari (who had also served as PPP’s secretary general under Benazir Bhutto) on charges of corruption, political violence and financial mismanagement.  

Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for a second time after the fresh elections. However, his decision to remove Gen Pervez Musharraf as army chief in October 1999 drastically changed the political situation in the country.   

If the PPP and PML-N leaders’ consistent allegations against each other and then the rivals-turned allies’ charges against the PTI leadership are to be trusted, then they all appear to be faces of the same coin. There is no difference among them except the names of their parties.    

The grave situation prevailing in the country demands that in the larger national interest the treasury and the opposition should change the decades old confrontational style of their politics without delay.  Keeping the interests of their supporters and followers supreme they should join hands to steer the country out of the present quagmire.  Legislators on both sides should identify the major problems facing the country and work out a strategy to deal with them. 

Mere criticism of the government on various counts solves no problem.  The opposition parties should also offer solutions to the problems facing the country. For example, it will be in the national interest if the opposition parties explain as to what should be done to avoid more foreign loans and repay the existing ones. 

Likewise, they should also tell what should be done to keep the prices of essentials items and gas, electricity under control; what strategy should be followed to overcome unemployment, improve law and order. 

As an opposition party the PTI should follow a similar approach in Sindh, where the PPP has been in power for the past 12 years. 

It is unfortunate that in the parliamentary system being followed by the country the vested interest of one party lies in the defeat/ failure of the rival. The future of one party brightens up only when the rival fails to deliver. 

If the opposition parties join hands with the government for the solution of major problems facing the people, the electorate would certainly support such leaders/parties in the next elections. 

In other words, the elected representatives on both sides of the aisle should sincerely serve the masses, leaving the reward to Allah, who is the best judge.

Written By

Ashraf Mumtaz

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