Political crisis looming large

Whereas saner elements wish the protesters in Islamabad would go home with some satisfaction there seems to be no end to the deadlock over the issue of Prime Minister’s resignation. What I thought should have been a win-win strategy is not in sight yet. According to a report, political Jirga consisting of main opposition parties is losing hopes of a negotiated settlement. If the ongoing negotiations between the government and the PTI fail to end the deadlock, the former has no intention to implement the five out of six points of the latter over which consensus has already been reached between the two sides. In that case, the government would go ahead and implement the recommendations of parliamentary body already working on the subject.
Hinting at the possible acceptance of resignations of the PTI’s MNAs, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that Imran Khan’s party may not be part of the parliament when the parliamentary body comes up with its proposals to reform electoral system. The minister said, “The PTI leadership has not yet signed the document dropping its demand for resignation of the Prime Minister”. Pervaiz Rashid said there would be no unilateral acceptance of agreed points. Meanwhile the government was waiting for the documents signed by the PTI.
A self-righteous and self-seeking attitude of absolutism would result in killing the ability and capacity to draw a line between right and wrong, justice and injustice, and rational and irrational. You can claim to be a hero and a savior only if prepared for self-restraint and self-sacrifice for the sake of stability of the state and peace and prosperity of the electorate. This is possible by building bridges of cooperation and understanding and by closing the “they and we” debate.
Ideological opinions need to be rationalized and justified following social research methods and principles. The current political crisis involves institutions of formal social control (government and social service agencies, and agencies for promulgation of peace), economic institutions, health institutions, communication institutions (including media, transportation, postal and telephone), higher educational institutions, and basic cultural institutions (the family, the mosque/the church, the school). Imagine how these institutions come under pressure in times of crisis.
This is why saner elements in the society get worried. It is this section of the society that strives and contributes to efforts for peace, security, progress and achievement. They know: an institution is a concept plus a structure. Law, for example, is an institution. It is based on the concept of justice and equity. Around these ideas were constructed courts, statutory provisions, systems of punishment, and the like. Implications of destructive politics and irresponsible behaviours of politicians and their crowd on social institutions could paralyse the resources of the state.
The elected government has a legal mandate to formulate and implement policies to promote and achieve the mission and goals of the state. Obstructing government officials in the performance of their official duties is an offence punishable under the law. To establish and maintain the writ of the state government is duty bound to proceed against those who violate the writ and laws and rules of the state.
Media has a special responsibility and has to play neutral and impartial. For their own safety the functionaries of TV channels should avoid going into violent and armed crowd attacking the law enforcing personnel. In such cases, injuries can’t be blamed on law enforcement agencies. Sitting in one place, Khan and Qadri get wide-ranging coverage by TV channels throughout Pakistan and abroad. Without media support the dharna could not have survived for more than one week.
In that sense I hold TV channels responsible for the worries, if any, of the government. The magnitude of the threat to the government was due to television. The power of television was established for the first time when Richard Nixon lost the election to John F. Kennedy, Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States. This, however, is no signal as to who will win in the current power struggle. Will constitutionality and legality prevail? This is the test of the media as well the electorate. The best in Pakistan’s interest would be PTI and PML (N) work hand-in-hand for the welfare of the people.
In a democratic state, public opinion, or will of a majority, should stand on all the important and controversial issues. Censorship of the instruments of communication is generally considered odious under democratic systems of government, but in time of crisis specific limitations of expression is required to protest national security. Even though the forces working in influence public opinion present their viewpoints, it is hoped that this type of propaganda and pressure will be counteracted by the availability of the facts and by free discussion. The fight for circulation leads some newspapers and periodicals to cast aside the obligation to mold public opinion instead, they simply mirror it.
Enough is enough. Imran Khan with all his frustrations and disappointments must have been informed by his inner-self that the course he was on was nothing but destruction. Technically he still belongs to the government and not to the oppositions. To end the current political crisis he should return to the parliament and support PML (N) in whatever reforms he wants to be introduced to end corruption and all that he finds is wrong in the system. This is the only way Imran Khan can secure his political career and do something constructive for the poor masses.
Imran Khan should demonstrate that he is accommodating. He should adhere to what is called Avoidance Strategy, that is the desire to withdraw from or suppress a conflict. The best alternative to a negotiated agreement is the lowest acceptable value to an individual for a negotiated agreement. Competing Strategy is a desire to satisfy one’s interests, regardless of the impact on the other party to the conflict. Compromising strategy is a situation in which each party to a conflict is willing to give up something. A conciliator is a trusted third party who provides an informal communication link between the negotiator and the opponent. Arbitrator is a third party to a negotiation who has the authority to dictate an agreement. A consultant as negotiator, an impartial third party, skilled in conflict management – could also be appointed. The conflict process consists of five stages: potential opposition or incompatibility; cognition and personalization; intentions; behavior; and outcomes.
All senior parliamentarians should be familiar with all the techniques and sophistication involved and difficulties of arriving at desired outcomes in series of exercises to bring down level of conflict. It is time that Imran Khan goes back to his normal personality and takes the initiative to talk to Nawaz for the good of the country. The same is the prescription for the Prime Minister. There has to be an environment of cooperation with a new zeal for a way forward and for national interests of Pakistan. A Win-win strategy is good for individual political leaders and Pakistan’s politics and polity.

 The writer is a former director NIPA, a political analyst, a public policy expert and an author.


The writer is a former director NIPA, a political analyst, a public policy expert and an author. He can be contacted at iftahmad786@hotmail.com

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