“The remedy for wrongs is to forget them.”

– Syrus

Difference of opinion is the beauty of democracy that allows societies to prosper and flourish. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, it degenerates into personal animosities, instead of blooming into a healthy debate. Several examples can be quoted wherein it seems that no one across the political divide is concerned that by following this unhealthy attitude, the leaders are inflicting serious damage to Pakistan.

Kalabagh Dam, for instance, is an issue that, if resolved, would have helped to overcome the perpetual electricity and water crisis in the country. But due to vested interests and divisions, the proposed dam has been abandoned by successive governments. We can also take up the case of General Sales Tax, or GST; an issue that had economic repercussions, but that too was lost in a futile, acrimonious debate, which resulted in the benefit of a few at the cost of a vast majority of Pakistanis.

More so, this attitude has come to fore due to the most recent, and perhaps the most painful, incident wherein 127 passengers lost their lives in an air crash. While there may be weaknesses in the implementation of certain government policies, but this does not mean that politics should play a role in events of such tragic proportions. For example, when the government announced the formation of a judicial commission to probe into the Bhoja crash, a senior leader of the opposition criticised it.

Pakistani politicians must remember that disastrous incidents require collective action for their resolution, instead of political point scoring and rhetorical jousting. On its part, the government has rightly declared that it will be compulsory for all private airlines to take technical clearance from the concerned authorities before they are allowed to do business as usual.

While this should have been done much before the tragedy took place, it will be worse if it is established that the ill fated airplane was allowed to fly with 127 passengers on board although its airworthiness was suspected. This divisive debate between two mainstream political parties has created an ugly atmosphere in the country and will not help the families, who have lost their dear ones. It is unfortunate that such political wrangling has become everyday events, which belie the ruling party’s claim that democracy is taking root and will be stronger with the passage of time. Even the media has shown no restraint, and in certain cases has indulged in irresponsible reporting and comments, which has added to the woes of the victims’ families and the people at large.

Also, it would have been better if the opposition leaders, instead of crying foul at every step that is taken by the government, would come up with alternative proposals. And in case they have evidence of any wrongdoing at any level, it should be brought before the people for review. However, what happens in Pakistan is quite the opposite. There are many gems of wisdom, who continue to plan against the people’s will and create opportunities for adventurers, who have already ruined several prestigious institutions of Pakistan.

Apparently, the politicians are again moving in a perilous direction without realising the consequences of their actions, which may cause sharp divisions among the people. This does not mean that the opposition should not criticise the government’s policies; nevertheless, it must also play a positive and productive role so that democracy continues to prosper in Pakistan.

It is already feared that with the elections drawing near, polarisation and division could blow out of hand although they are the last things that Pakistanis can afford at the moment. There are already monumental challenges facing the country, such as the law and order situation and deteriorating economy that has not been able to flourish to the full potential that exists in the country.

Further, when some members of the ruling elite pointed out the role of police in Punjab during the elections for seats in Kashmir, it created not only a bad image for the leaders within Pakistan, but also provided its detractors an opportunity to criticise the methods employed by various political parties participating in the elections. Therefore, this attitude of the pot calling the kettle black must come to an end; political leaders must work in a way that does not harm the country’s vital national interest.

One hopes that in coming days and weeks, the political parties will be able to draw up a plan that envelopes them in a code of conduct that allows freedom, but not political animosity. Already the menace of extremism, and in some cases sectarianism, have not only damaged Pakistan’s image internationally, but also its ability to progress economically. This, in turn, deprives the people of their right to improve their living standards, which is enshrined in the 1973 Constitution. But the main question is: how long will Pakistanis continue to fight against one another weakening an already fragile economy? This is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. It is very easy to create problems for others, indeed!

As a final word, every Pakistani must work hard to realise Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s dream of a true Islamic democracy. While all major political parties claim to follow in the Quaid’s footsteps, they have shown little with their performance; they definitely need to do more!

n    The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television.

    Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com