National govt better option than fresh elections

Urgent need for “8-day” week system

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:09 PM, 27 May, 2020
National govt better option than fresh elections

PML-N leader Ahan Iqbal has called for immediate fresh elections as, in his opinion, the PTI government has failed to solve multiple problems facing the country.

On the other hand, PML-Awami chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has proposed that the term of assemblies/government should be reduced to four years as, according to him, five years is too long a period for the opposition parties to wait for their term.

What the enlightened leader from Narowal facing NAB references said is essentially the reiteration of what PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said recently. A number of party leaders have already claimed that 2020 will be the year of new elections.  

Interestingly, the PPP, the JUI-F and the Jamaat-i-Islami also think there is need for fresh polls to navigate the country out of the serious problems it is mired in.

In Pakistan, as also elsewhere in the world, political parties may come up with any demand at any time, no matter whether they sound rational, logical or not.

The PML-N’s allegation that the PTI government has failed to deliver is what all opposition parties in the past have been saying of the incumbent governments. No opposition has ever appreciated a sitting government.  

It’s good from people’s point of view to keep the sitting governments under pressure to do more.

But despite this people-friendly approach, the demand for fresh polls in the prevailing situation seems totally unjustified. This is the time when fullest attention should be paid to solving economic problems of the country. The novel coronavirus has devastated the economy – in fact all sectors – and the country will need a long time to recover. The government will need a long time to calculate the losses/damages caused by the contagion, which so far has killed more than 352,000 people across the world.

Patriotism demands that the opposition parties should rise above their personal political interests and join hands with the government to grapple with the multiple problems. Formation of a national government – or a unity government - will certainly be a better option that call for fresh elections.

Superfluous to reiterate that elections divide a nation. Parties contesting elections level all kinds of well-founded or baseless allegations against their rivals to win voters’ support. As a result, tensions go high during electioneering – and remain so even thereafter.  Focus is shifted away from the real problems and most of the time is spent on exposing the weaknesses/wrongdoings of the rivals.

This should explain why fresh elections don’t suit the country at present.

Now, some thing about Sheikh Rashid’s four-year term idea.

“Rawalpindi’s” Sheikh Rashid was interviewed by many TV channels on the Eid day, which is quite meaningful. No other leader got so much projection on the electronic media that day.

In one of his interviews, the veteran leader, who has a long experience of working with governments of opposite views, said that the term of assemblies should be reduced to four years – an idea that will stir a new controversy when the nation needs total unity.

Even after prolonged debates not all the parties will agree to Sheikh Rashid’s idea. And a constitutional amendment needed to cut the assemblies’ term will also be impossible. Hence, the time spent on an unnecessary debate will also go waste.

It is better that this Pandora’s box should not be opened at all. Assemblies’ term is a settled issue and there is little justification to start a new controversy about it.

It is better that all parties concerned about people’s problems should give a serious consideration to the national government idea.

Another step that should be considered immediately is the introduction of an “eight-day” week in all government offices. The country cannot afford two days off any more.

The situation the country is passing through is so bad that full-time, non-stop work by people belonging to all walks of life is needed to put the country back on the track.

The two-day off system was introduced many years ago when the country was facing acute power shortages. Loadshedding was so frequent that it was difficult for the bureaucracy to perform their duties.

Now that there is no power loadshedding and the situation is also very difficult the PTI government should revert to one-day off system. This is the need of the hour.