Bitter rivals over one issue, allies over the next. That is how democracy is supposed to function – where the merit of the topic under discussion takes precedence over historic enmity. Having seen Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) tussle with each other for the better part of two decades – many times just for the sake of opposition, rather than on an actual issue – it is heartening to some injection of democratic common sense into the Parliament.
The PPP and the PML-N have thrown their lot behind the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), saying that they will vote against any motion to de-seat them from the legislative body. After their trials and tribulations during the Dharna, no one would have been surprised if they had removed the PTI lawmakers out of spite – in fact many party members expected them to. While one could choose to look at this development optimistically, and hope that it signals the beginning of a more inclusive era, the realist will recognise that both the parties haven’t taken this position out of a principled stance or respect for law, it is based on political expediency. Had the PML-N seen an iota of political advantage in it, they would have thrown the PTI out of the Parliament in a heartbeat.
The party’s official response to the judicial commission report remains one of conciliation and modesty, but that does not mean the PML-N, and to an extent PPP, members are not itching to rub their victory in the faces of PTI – after all it goes with their brash, explosive style. What Nawaz Sharif wisely realised is, that shaming the PTI and seeking revenge would have only given the party new impetuous. PTI’s past success is built on a reactionary model; there is injustice, and PTI strives to correct it. Their expulsion from the parliament would have been another terrible tragedy that could amply supply Imran Khan’s speeches for the coming months. Conciliation suits the current mood. PTI is disarmed, and at the moment they are at the mercy of the same parties they viciously abused for many months. This position of power is comfortable for the PPP and PML-N. They can’t be bothered with PTI. Punishing them would only give them more importance – something the PML-N is desperate to avoid.
Despite this, if the by-product of political moves is a functioning parliament, than those moves must be appreciated. Perhaps it just might inject democratic principles into the proceedings, even if it is by mere convention.