LAHORE  -  What change has been brought about by the July 25 general elections? What should be done in the future by all political parties to solve the numerous problems facing the country? What purpose will the opposition parties’ protest campaign serve at a time when the country is already passing through a very difficult situation?

These are the questions needing immediate attention of all parties, ruling as well as the ones that will be sitting on opposition benches in the days ahead.

After the elections, the change has only been at the federal level and in Punjab where the PTI will replace the PML-N as ruling party.

The PTI has retained KP, the PPP has again captured Sindh, and Balochistan will yet again in the control of a coalition, led by newly formed Balochistan Awami Party.

Major opposition parties have started protest against the alleged rigging in elections. The Tehrik Lubbaik Pakistan, a religious outfit that has emerged as a parallel to the MMA, was the first to start protest against irregularities in polls.

Knowing well that the national economy is in a very bad condition and Pakistan may have to seek new bailout package from the IMF or other sources against tough conditionalities, patriotism demands that all parties should shun their petty interests and join hands to steer the country out of this situation. Although this prescription will not be liked by vested interests, there is no substitute to this.

Those citing examples of major democracies like USA and Britain – and who frequently say they should be emulated in Pakistan - should bear in mind how the ruling party and opposition there join hands to meet the requirements of certain situations.

Cooperation with their arch rival PTI will be a bitter pill for the PML-N and the PPP to swallow, but the latter should not forget that despite their claims to the contrary they played a major role in adding to the burden of foreign debts, that stand at about $90 billion at present. And with the acquisition of new loans the figure will cross $100 billion, something beyond the capacity of this poor country to repay. It is also an open secret that the finance minister of the PML-N government Ishaq Dar had left no national asset un-mortgaged against which a future government could get loans.

The PML-N may be right in its claim that it left a much better economy at the end of its term on May 31 than what it had inherited from the PPP in 2013, but it is equally right that the country cannot afford any more protests at this stage.

The opposition parties should let the PTI government implement its agenda and honour its commitments made through the manifesto. If the new government delivers, everyone should appreciate its performance. But it fails people will reject this party in future.

But at a time when the PTI chairman is yet to take oath, there is no justification for anyone to start protests. The new government has the right to stay in power for full five years just as then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said that the PML-N government would not quit even a minute before the completion of its constitutionally-mandated term on May 31 midnight.

Opposition parties should discharge their constitutional role in parliament by criticizing every wrong policy or move of the PTI government. This is the best way to keep the new government on the track.

But if the opposition parties used their parliamentary strength only to block the PTI government’s way, it would not be a national service.

Everyone knows that at present the PTI government will not be in a position to have even an ordinary law passed from parliament because of its insufficient representation in the Senate. Passage of a constitutional amendment is impossible – unless the opposition parties extend support.

 

 

Collective efforts must to steer country out of uncertainty

 

 

ASHRAF MUMTAZ