“Principles become modified in practise by facts.”

– Cooper

Several analysts have challenged the entire country to produce one person, who will not fall short of the provisions of Articles 62 and 63, a requirement for all eligible candidates contesting the 2013 general elections. Whereas, others believe that the process followed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in printing the forms to be filled in by the candidates without President Asif Zardari’s approval are illegal and outside the orbit of law.

At the moment, while it may not be appropriate to go into such details, and, perhaps,  the apex court may provide the much needed relaxation if the polls are to be held according to schedule, it is a fact that the peaceful transition of power will be a major milestone for the country’s democracy.

The mere fact that the will of the people is going to prevail on May 11 is no small matter and, therefore, it must be appreciated by everyone in the country.

Observations on the conduct of political parties, however, tell us a different story where principles have not mattered much in the run-up to the polls. In other words, they have been blatantly violated or compromised.

Nonetheless,  on the part of the political forces, pragmatism has achieved an upper hand that seems to be a little out of place for the people who believe in democratic norms and would have appreciated if certain principles had been followed in their true spirit.

There are several examples of prospective candidates applying for tickets at the same time from two different political parties; whereas, the parties have been bending over backwards to accommodate such “turncoats”, if they are considered to be winning horses.

Similarly, several PPP members decided to switch sides at the eleventh hour and climbed the PML-N and PTI bandwagon. The same is true for the PML-N that has lost some of its members to the PPP. Both the parties claimed that those who were denied party tickets had switched sides and, therefore, it was of not much consequence for them.

The question, however, remains: why are these turncoats accepted by the political parties? This confirms the fact that they are only interested in winning the maximum number of seats and principles do not matter much.

This has created a poor impression among a majority of the people, who already have little faith in the politicians. Even PTI, which has made ‘change’ as its slogan, is being severely criticised for accepting such turncoats in its rank and file and simultaneously compromising on its stated principles.

Anyway, it is predicted that no single party will win enough seats to form a government at the Centre. Therefore, it seems that Pakistan is moving towards another coalition setup, i.e. another weak government.

The dynamics of a coalition government have never been very successful in any part of the world; a situation that can be witnessed in India today where the Samajwadi Party with 22 seats in the Lok Sabha is holding the Congress-led government of Dr Manmohan Singh in virtual ransom.

Pakistanis too have suffered from the havoc played by a coalition government during the last five years. If the political leadership had followed certain principles, it would have been possible that the next government would be a strong one capable of meeting the challenges facing the country.

But in case the new government is forced to compromise by the coalition dynamics, then the issue of energy may bleed Pakistan’s economy to an extent where no one will have any solution to this serious problem.

Also, issues of taxation, pilferage and corruption have become so enormous that they can only be tackled if strict principles are applied to bring Pakistan’s economy back on track.

Another thing that can be seen on the horizon is that the next government whosoever wins will not complete its tenure and may be forced after some time to call for early elections; a proposition that will not only help democracy but also create conducive conditions to a stable and strong government in Pakistan.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political rogramme on Pakistan Television.  Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com