Seldom I feel motivated to question the wisdom of Senator Raza Rabbani. Friday, he did sound a bit naïve to cynical me while attempting to spin a wishful story, though.

He was just not willing to believe that Prime Minister Imran Khan felt personally annoyed by the Senate Chairman’s ruling of Thursday. The ruling had banned the entry of information minister to the upper house of parliament, “unless he tendered unconditional apology” for aggressive conduct in a house chaired by Sanjrani.

Briefing about a Cabinet meeting Thursday evening, Fawad Chaudhry had claimed otherwise. The information minister rather went on to insist that prime minister was not alone in feeling upset about the chairman’s ruling. The cabinet as a whole firmly believed that the opposition was too obsessed to monopolize and dictate business in upper house of parliament. Its Chairman often behaves like their enabler. The overall conduct of the Senate and its chairman was rather forcing the PTI government to seriously wonder how to go about by disregarding this house.

While reporting the cabinet mood, Fawad Chaudhry also tried settling some personal scores with Chairman Sanjrani. The Senators, he dismissively recalled, are elected to upper house of parliament via an indirect mode of election. Fawad Chaudhry types, on the other hand, try reaching to the national assembly through a fiercely contested election. The said comparison burnt many hearts, including of those sitting in the Senate on PTI benches.

Rabbani is a hardened political worker who had learnt the ropes of his trade by walking through the heat and dust of student activism. Even after being part of two governments and enjoying a long stint of Senate Chairman, he prudently protected his reputation of being Mr Clean. Whenever he stands to speak in the Senate, even his political opponents listened to his impressively articulated speech with admiring attention.

Although sparing and forgiving Prime Minister Imran Khan with a noble and big heart, Rabbani took no time to ruthlessly demolish the thought that an elected government could function above and beyond the Senate. Clause 6 of Article 90 of our Constitution, he thundered, clearly prescribes that the cabinet will collectively be responsible to both houses of parliament. The PTI government must think twice before trying to act as if violating this clause.

Having said this, the experienced politician in Rabbani did admit with a worrying heart that a streak of populist fascism seems dominating the collective mindset of the PTI government. Its ministers keep portraying politicians as a ‘corrupt class’ and seldom care to consider that they too belong to the same trade and their coming to the government was the result of a political process.

Enough was turning enough, though. And the time has come where a credible mechanism of accountability needs to be introduced in the country. The accountability process must not focus on politicians only, judiciary and the civil and the military elite should also face its sifting machine.

Rabbni’s passionate pleading for “across the board accountability” certainly enjoys solid validity about it. But I am just not willing to buy his wishful thinking that prefers imagining that Fawad Chaudhry acts “solo.”

Even before surfacing of the Senate Chairman ruling against the information minister Thursday. I had reported in this column that Prime Minister Imran Khan felt too pleased with Fawad Chaudhry’s conduct. He needs a spin master that should make us believe that things look gloomy in Pakistan of these days, simply because the previous governments of both the PML-N and the PPP indulged in reckless looting and plundering of state resources, instead of focusing on delivering the people-friendly governance.

The way opposition legislators react to Fawad Chaudhry’s tirade, doubly please the cricketer captain in Imran Khan, who always wanted that bowlers deployed by him must not let the opposition players to set on the pitch to playing a long innings by employing all means, fair or foul.

The information minister has not acted wise by targeting the Senate Chairman, though. He should have remembered that Sadiq Sanjrani was launched on our political scene via a diligently designed scheme. The said scheme desired to locate, sponsor and promote “a new set of (patriotic) politicians” from Balochistan. The accumulated grievances of this resource-rich province were to be addressed through these politicians to counter the set of politicians from Balochistan promoting and pursuing separatism.

Imran Khan had also approved and supported the said scheme wholeheartedly and to get Sanjrani elected as the Senate Chairman, he had asked the PTI senators to vote for him. The PPP had already owned Sanjrani. And to facilitate Sanjrani’s election, the PTI also voted for the PPP-nominated candidate for the office of Senate Deputy Chairman.

If the PTI opted to ditch Sanjrani at this stage, the PPP and the PML-N and the rest of opposition parties in the Senate can join hands to get a new chairman. He or she can make things far more difficult for the government.

The arrogant ditching of Sanjrani will also annoy the BAP-led government in Balochistan. Ganging up with the Sindh government, it can push the federal government to concede more from the national kitty to smaller provinces.

The story of loot and plunder that the PTI government has been selling since assuming office is fast heading the expiry date anyway. Far more ominous and potentially explosive questions have now sprung on our political scene. And the PTI government does not look able to furnish satisfactory answers to them.

In addition to the questions related to “what next” for Aasia, we had the frightening kidnapping of a serving police officer from Islamabad. His brutalised body was later found in a remote village of Afghanistan. Both these issues cry for a deft handling. The taunts-laden attacks on the PML-N and the PPP with stories of loot and plunder can just not provide assuaging diversions to these issues.

 

 

Rabbani thunders in

defence of Senate