The ways of our politicians
The sitting governments all over the world have the disadvantage of incumbency. The opposition parties try to belittle the achievements and policies of the ruling parties using the touchstone of their own perceptions and stated positions on particular issues, which is quite understandable in the democratic dispensations. However in the more established democracies the opposition to the government policies and strategies is more or less based on set democratic traditions in a way that it does not jeopardize the national interests. But in nascent democracies, like Pakistan where no such traditions exist, opposition means denigrating the sitting governments no matter how good their policies and performance is. The focus rather is on destabilising the sitting government, which is tantamount to descent into the realm of cynicism.
The phenomenon of cynicism has been more pronounced in the Pakistani politics during the last four years, notwithstanding the fact that the country under the present government has been able to surmount some of the formidable and debilitating inherited challenges and these achievements have been duly acknowledged and appreciated at the global level.
The most appreciated and endorsed achievement of the PML (N) government has been the revival of the economy through prudent economic management which saw the GDP growth rate rising to 5.1% (highest in the last nine years) in 2017 from a dismally low rate of 3% in 2013. The international lending and rating agencies have repeatedly acknowledged and endorsed the economic revival. IMF has attributed this success to consumer confidence and fiscal reforms. Not only that it has also predicted GDP growth rate of 5.5% and 5.8% during 2018 and 2019 respectively, which is a very encouraging news. The prospects of progress and prosperity are much brighter in the future and the economists believe that the implementation of CPEC would add another 2% to the GDP growth rate.
To be honest, the government has not only succeeded in reviving the economy but has also tamed the existentialist threat posed by terrorism and religious extremism to a great extent and the fight against this scourge continues with ever greater success. Karachi, notwithstanding sporadic flashbacks, has become more peaceful than before and gives a semblance of normalcy. Insurgency in Balochistan has been contained and every now and then we hear the news about surrender of the insurgents before the security agencies. The energy crisis may not have been overcome yet but the fact is that power outages have been reduced considerably and hopefully the country will get rid of this problem by the end of 2018 when all the power producing projects launched under CPEC would add 10600MW electricity to the system.
The foregoing developments are almost irrefutable. But our opposition parties are not prepared to acknowledge them and are perpetually engaged in denigrating and belittling these achievements succumbing to their streak of cynicism. They are also engaged in the efforts to destabilise the government, particularly the PTI whose focus has been on political vendetta rather than on strengthening democracy and state institutions which are imperative for peace and progress of the country.
The intensity of the anti-government sentiment among the political opponents of the government sometimes blurs their ability to draw a line between their political motives and national interests and security. The situation unravelling after the release of Justice Najfi report on Model Town Tragedy with the major political parties like PPP, PTI and other political vultures jumping on the bandwagon of PAT to destabilise the government is quintessential of the cynicism of our politicians and their politics of self-aggrandisement.
The syndrome of cynicism and politics of self-aggrandisement by our politicians has been the bane of our socio-economic progress. Its continuity and refusal by the politicians to learn from the bitter experiences of the past, does not augur well for the country. The politics of self-aggrandisement must give way to politics of sanity, respect for the mandate of the people and an uncompromising commitment to national causes.
The Panama case was also a classic example of the disgruntled politicians getting together to destabilise the government of an opponent party which realistically speaking is the most popular political entity as reflected by the results in the general elections, local bodies polls , public franchise in AJK and the outcomes of almost all the bye-elections. It was motivated by political vendetta, rather than an honest move to deal with the problem of rampant corruption or putting in place a fool-proof legal framework for ensuring across the board accountability. It clearly presented a spectacle of a witch-hunt and burning witches with relish.
Can any of the politicians and parties which petitioned the SC and others who consider themselves the custodians of national morality declare on oath that they fulfil the requirements of article 62 and 63? The answer regrettably is an emphatic no. They know that they cannot reach the corridors of power through genuine means i.e. through ballot. It is a typical pattern that we have been witnessing in the past, with disgruntled politicians getting together to orchestrate a regime change or malign the sitting government to settle scores with it. Panama case was highly politicised issue and in my columns I repeatedly maintained that the acceptance of the petitions by the SC was a wrong decision and the verdict delivered by it would generate an ending controversy and it might not add to the prestige and credibility of the apex court. That is exactly what has happened. It is likely to have wide-ranging long term repercussions for the future political landscape of the country.
The new political culture of sit-ins introduced in the Pakistani politics is also a grave threat to the writ of the state and the authority of the legitimately elected government. It is promoting anarchy and disorder in the country as was witnessed during the sit-in by the duo of Imran and Qadri and the recent one by Tehrik Labek Ya Rasoolallah at Faizabad in Islamabad. It is a matter of great shame that the mainstream political parties are also throwing their weight behind the prospective sit-in by PAT and seem ready to join hands with it to see premature end of the PML (N) government. They probably are not realising the gravity of their actions which are surely going to weaken democracy. The tendency to settle political issues in the courts is also very worrying as it would undermine other state institutions, particularly the parliament which is not a good omen for democracy and constitutional rule in the country. For the country to have a strong and vibrant democracy and achieving the cherished goals of independence, our politicians will have to change their ways, otherwise the country will remain consigned to anarchy and instability.
n The writer is a freelance columnist.