Challenges needing immediate govt-opposition cooperation
The federal as well as provincial budgets of Punjab, KP, Balochistan and Sindh have been passed by the respective legislatures, establishing beyond doubt that those in power at the centre and in provinces enjoy the majority’s support.
From July 1 (Thursday), all government expenditures will be made from the new budgets.
This means that now the speculations about no-trust motions against Prime Minister Imran Khan or any chief minister should die down.
It’s true that under the Constitution a no-trust motion against any of these office-bearers can be brought about any time, but now that their majority has been proved, this chapter should be closed for the time being and those in power should be allowed to work peacefully.
Although PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had placed his party legislators at the disposal of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif for use in any policy about the budget, the latter did nothing to create any problem at this crucial juncture.
PPP leader Nabeel Gabol said in a TV interview that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif doesn’t want to dislodge Punjab chief minister while Mian Shehbaz Sharif doesn’t want the ouster of Prime Minister Khan.
Whatever the factual position, the ruling party and the opposition should immediately sit together, review the situation in the region and work out a policy to deal with the emerging challenges Pakistan will have to face in the near future.
Also, another urgent subject that needs the two sides to join hands for is the long-overdue electoral reforms.
Needless to point out that the results of all general elections held so far have not been acceptable to the losing parties. They have been questioning the transparency and fairness of all elections – and even running movement against them.
These days some speculations are making the rounds – that the PTI government is thinking of holding premature elections. This means that while the elections are due to be held in 2023, the prime minister can make an announcement any time.
This being so, it’s high time for the government and the opposition parties to decide the required reforms and introduce them immediately so that the next elections are absolutely free and fair – and their results are acceptable to all parties.
To make the exercise more fruitful, the Election Commission of Pakistan should also be taken on board.
The reservations being expressed about the electronic voting machines should also be discussed in detail.
In case the PTI government came up with a surprise announcement about the elections when there is no consensus on reforms, the fresh balloting will also lay the foundation of a new crisis for the country.
The ruling party should not forget the then opposition alliance’s movement against rigged elections in 1977 and the fate then prime minister had ultimately to face.
He should go extra mile to evolve consensus on electoral reforms.
Another urgent subject the government and opposition parties should discuss without delay is the emerging situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Most of the media reports suggest that after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the war-ravaged country may slide into a new conflict between the US-backed Afghan government and the Taliban.
The PTI government is consistently stressing the need for a political solution, the overconfident Taliban are striving to get a complete military victory.
They are making military gains everyday as a result of which their level of self-confidence is going up.
Since renewed fighting in Afghanistan will mean more problems for Pakistan which has already been hosting some three million refugees for two decades, the government and the opposition should minutely discuss all likely scenarios and the strategy required to deal with them.
Yet another subject the government and the opposition should take up is the mischiefs being planned and carried out by enemy India. Its likely moves in occupied Kashmir after the failure of recent APC also needs serious thought.
The growing tension between China and USA, its likely impact on the region in general and Pakistan, in particular, is yet another subject needing urgent attention.
In this situation, the PML-N and the PDM should change the agenda of their July 5 meetings and take right decisions.
The country cannot afford any more confrontation between the government and the opposition. Both sides should realize the gravity of the situation.