“We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases.”
When I stepped in the field of journalism my teachers advised me: “Whenever in doubt, cut it out.” Today about everything that happens in this country creates doubt. This has now continued for a long period of time and the time may have come when the people at the helm of affairs must decisively act before it becomes too late and they are reduced to helpless spectators.
The country has been caught in one turmoil after the other with different people trying to shake its very foundation. It is a miracle that it continues to survive providing hope for better times. It is not only the government that needs to redeem itself, but also the opposition parties’ criticism must positive and productive. They should not create conditions that could lead to polarisation, which burdens the country to an extent where there is a danger that it could collapse.
While little is being done to alleviate the sufferings of the masses, the politicians have returned to their old ways of mudslinging in yet another effort to insult the intelligence of Pakistanis. For example, the ruling of the National Assembly Speaker, who concluded that no case could be made against the Prime Minister for his disqualification in the wake of the contempt of court decision announced by the Supreme Court, has created an unnecessary uproar.
In democracies around the world, it is an established tradition and in certain cases defined by law that the National Assembly cannot debate a case, which is pending before the superior judiciary. Similarly, the courts cannot decide on issues or rulings announced by the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Nonetheless, two political parties - one led by Mian Nawaz Sharif and the other by Imran Khan - have filed appeals before the superior judiciary, pleading that they should adjudicate on the Speaker’s ruling and also disqualify the PM. For many saner political voices, the procedure adopted by the two political parties could result in the judiciary’s politicisation that will not be either in the peoples or the judiciary’s interest.
However, the debate that is currently going on is that the country’s economy that is already under pressure will be damaged further if the issue is not resolved immediately. While Nawaz believes that his party thrives when it is in a confrontational mode, Imran is touring the country suggesting ideas to resolve the peoples’ problems specifically when no viable programme has been announced by his party to address their concerns.
Moreover, unfortunately, President Asif Zardari is one man who is mainly suffering for the sins committed by others in the PPP. Therefore, it is his responsibility to ensure that all the dead wood is thrown out and a new, effective and efficient government is put in place that has the capability not only to tackle the international problems faced by this country, but also has creative ideas that will provide relief to the masses.
To achieve this goal, the President may have to take certain unpopular decisions. But it must be remembered that he must follow in the footsteps of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, if he wants his party to win in the next general elections. Otherwise, the party’s fortunes that are already very low will further slide down, allowing his political adversaries more space in the elections.
It will be a great fallacy on the PPP’s part and its allies to bank on the indirect support that they may get due to Imran’s rising popularity in some of the cities in Punjab. These urban centres are considered to be the strongholds for Mian Nawaz Sharif and, thus if the PTI succeeds to wean away the voters in these urban centres, the PPP and its allies would be the indirect beneficiaries.
The fact of the matter remains that on the issue of loadshedding, the PPP and its allies must prepare themselves for the peoples wrath and the notion that they will be forgiven is absurd, keeping in view the extreme anger and despondency that prevail among a vast majority. There are other pressing issues like inflation, rising prices, unemployment and deteriorating law and order situation. These factors will also have some bearing on the outcome of the upcoming general elections.
It would, therefore, be prudent on the part of the PPP-led government to immediately put in place measures that would help reduce the peoples’ burden. So instead of portraying a picture of paralysis, the government must step forward and initiate decisive actions that are both visible and effective. To achieve this goal, it is absolutely essential to introduce a new, competent team to govern the state. This may be a tall order, but then there are no easy solutions for a country whose economy is haemorrhaging at a pace that should never be tolerated.
Anyway, the actions of both the government and the opposition parties have failed to satisfy a beleaguered nation, yearning for a change for the better. Conditions are ripe where any with good orator can mislead the people creating more difficulties not only for the people themselves, but also for the institution of democracy.
Finally, the coming weeks and months demand political maturity from the forces, which believe that the peoples will must prevail in this country because democracy is, perhaps, the only option that can allow Pakistan to face the present challenges.
n The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television.