Senatorial Schisms

The Senate elections are what can best be described as the enterprise of party leaderships scrambling to assemble a formidable kings-guard in the Upper house of the parliament. The nominees by and large have the same claim to their candidacy; those of kin, those of the most elite, those of indelible allegiance, those with financial clout and deep pockets, those with far reaching influence, and those who appease to beneficiary factions. The process is anything but meritorious. It is ironic how the charade of political competence all boils down to nepotism, cronyism and financial legitimacy.

As the Senate elections approach, we see the loyalties and solidarities of political parties across the board splintering into discontentment, resentment and in MQMs case, full blown mutiny. Set to make gains in the elections with an expected clean-sweep in Punjab, one would assume that PML-N would be the portrait of unity. However, the Senate elections have left even this party’s stalwarts grumbling their discontent over the leadership’s choice of candidates.

Leaders have voiced their misgivings at the party leadership’s chicanery in finalizing candidates before inviting applications and in the absence of a formal parliamentary board. Members accuse the party leadership of discrimination where tickets have been given only to those rich people who provided financial support to the party and the leadership during their foreign trips. These objections come spilling over the undercurrent of resentment regarding the inclusion of nominees like Ishaq Dar whose candidature is the source of contention both inside and outside the party and Saadia Abbasi whose nomination has been countered with intimations at nepotism. Other candidates are accused of not even possessing the party’s basic membership.

Nominations based on favor and political cronyism negate the purpose and validity of the Senate and ultimately of the whole democratic process. The PML- N needs to rethink the criterion it is employing in the selection of Senate appointments. Where Pakistani politics are hardly the model of virtue and merit, it is critical for the party’s revival from its recent setbacks to exhibit solidarity and to do that it needs to take the misgivings of its party members into consideration. Once formidable opponents like MQM serve as examples of the frailty of the political party as a concept, where the polity, in its true democratic nature is wholly susceptible to defections and dissolution. Without objective leadership they either become tyrannical and dynastic or fizzle into political parodies of themselves.

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