September 22, 2010

Why the PPP Government should stay

Jarring democracy for personal benefit?
While Pakistan continues to undergo tremendous pressures both at home and abroad, some ‘political’ elements have jumped onto the bandwagon calling for change. This call for change originated in London by Altaf Hussain, and culminated in Lahore with Nawaz Sharif reportedly telling Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to not expect any more help from them.

This whole paradigm shift needs to be understood in the larger context. On the face of it, it appears as if the increasing calls for change are directly dependent on the highly farcical performance of the government on all possible fronts, internal and external. Apart from that, it has also taken a serious moral whooping ever since its chairman (Asif Ali Zardari) decided to become President. With pending graft cases in international courts, and severe controversy surrounding his spouse’s (Benazir Bhutto) assassination, the idea of him taking charge as head of state was an unwise one. It also severely compromised his already battered image and led to a combine attack by all political elements of Pakistan onto his party.

But that’s not all. The dubious and ignominious pariahs that have somehow made themselves essential components of the PPP including Babar Awan, Firdaus Ashiq Awan, Fauzia Wahab etc have done irreparable harm to the goodwill of the People’s Party. Despite its negative image, the steps taken by the premier were the right ones. However, when it comes to intricacies, it has been badly let down by its party cadres.

But there’s more. You would imagine that the single largest political entity in Pakistan would have faced the onslaught from a position of power but that hasn’t been the case. The government has very meekly and quietly surrendered most of its power to the army and is now effectively under its command in matters pertaining to interior policy, foreign policy, and the defence policy. Even then, it was expected that those critics and intellectuals who profess to be the harbingers of democracy would negate this confluence between anti-democratic elements but surprisingly, they have discreetly and quietly appreciated rival parties of the government. It appears that the PML – N is being touted as being the next in line to the throne.

Now, I’ve never been a supporter of the PPP and the current government has substantiated my arguments against the PPP without a shred of doubt. But what parochial geniuses who call for change refuse to acknowledge or see is that, rocking the infantile ship of democracy in Pakistan will be tantamount to creating anarchy and chaos in this country. Just look at the events unfolding in Karachi everyday to draw up a generalized conclusion of what will happen to Pakistan if the little semblance of an authoritative structure (government) is compromised. Yes the PPP might have failed; yes it might be corrupt; yes it might be incompetent, but nothing and I mean absolutely nothing gives anyone the right to topple it, or ask army generals to descend upon it like judicious warriors. Those of us who criticize it to no end did not get our asses off from our comfortable couches to go and vote against the PPP. Nothing gives us the right to call for their removal now.

The other problem of course is that impatience and shortcuts are ingrained into our very natures. Nawaz Sharif is probably at the end of his patience limit now, having been out of power for so long and now eyes Islamabad with lust in his eyes. Backed with discreet encouragement from various quarters (army, columnists, intellectuals, civil society?), he is in the mood for the kill. However, being a part of any attempt to overthrow this government will probably seal his fate too. People have literally run out of patience with the political theatrics that are the order of the day. It has to be made abundantly clear that even if the people have run out of patience with the PPP, they are equally disillusioned with the PML – N.

What is needed is a clean break, and cutting the PPP government some slack. No doubt it has made some humongous oversights and errors of judgment, but it needs to complete its mandated five years to let democracy take root. At the end of five years, the people will decide for themselves as to who they want. Right now, politics of confrontation need to put aside in the best interest of the nation.