The Supreme Court has suspended the membership of 28 parliamentarians elected to Parliament and Provincial Assemblies elected in by-elections. The suspension, to remain in force till the passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, has been ordered on the ground that the Election Commission had not been fully constituted at the time of these elections and the electoral roles used in these by-polls contained bogus votes. The court gave the government ample time to regularise the elections through legislation. The amendment covers two issues, regularisation of these by-polls and creation of new provinces. The court’s decision might just have caused a few ripples, but for the fast approaching Senate elections that have invested it with far-reaching implications.

As the ruling coalition does not want a dissenting voice against the amendment, it is holding talks with the PML-N in an attempt to bring it round to its point of view. The PML-N, though equally interested in its passage to secure their own MPs against the court verdict, finds it an ideal opportunity to have some of its conditions met. That is especially so since it has reservations about the creation of new provinces on linguistic grounds. But apart from sorting the issue of new provinces out, the PML-N would like the government to constitute an independent election commission, before elections take place. It also wishes to ensure the establishment of an interim government whose members are selected through mutual discussion. For the PPP, it is politically crucial for the party to have the PML-N on board to ensure that the amendment is approved unanimously. So far, the talks between the two are deadlocked, though the negotiations continue.

Generally speaking, resolution of contentious issues between political opponents would make for a smooth functioning of the government. The pity in our case, however, is that political leaders only put their heads together to solve these issues when their personal or party interests are involved. They hardly find it suitable to talk to each other to redress the people’s grievances. For instance, the past four years’ rule of the PPP-led political setup has witnessed their woes progressively worsening. But, they have mostly been dealt with at the rhetorical level, with political parties trading allegations against one another. Neither the government nor the opposition have come up with a definite plan to tide over their problems. In the meanwhile, spiralling inflation, mounting insecurity, frequent power and gas outages, economic decline, rampant corruption and egregious misgovernance – all have been contributing to the aggravation of their misery. An independent election commission and an interim setup, it is hoped, will be constituted of leaders with a passion to serve the nation and relieve the people of their sufferings.