The Political Catch-22



With the ARD-a coalesce of malodorous muscular politician-staying away, a crucial session of parleys-between the government n’ the religious-cum-political bunch the MMA-surfaced on the political horizons of Pakistan Sunday, beaming an elfin idol of a distinguishable buoyancy for the democratic rule-facing the most hazardous settings, ever since its birth as a follow-up of the October-10 polls.

This course of talks-which lasted for well-over four-hours at the marvellous PM House-gripping the charismatic lush-green Margala Hills-conceivably ended in a draw as no consequential communiqué was detectable-except a animated story that both sides were represented by five members each. The only information which tiptoes via the corridors of power is that ‘the two sides conferred on the ‘contentious issue’-of the Legal Framework Order [LFO] with savour to go on with the route of discourse’. It-however-does not portray any explicit day or date-as to when such an interface is to shell for an eventual momentous upshot.

This scenario-in a way-depicts that ‘exercise’ set off by the MMA was prima facie a ‘face-saving’ affair to clutch the adore of the Jamali-led egalitarian silhouette of power so that no-one lifts eyebrows vis-é-vis MMA’ real n’ corporeal standpoint. It seems that the Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali had invited the Opposition leaders for a summit-with all-out import to get the dwindling political state of affairs evaporated, yet the feedback to his zestful idea could not prove-cheering so far. A flat ‘No’ from ARD-followed by an inclusive dialogue-thus-poses perils to the democratic regime, of course a nauseating facet for the people-having noteworthy penchant for such a course.

Every pragmatic mind viewed that the mired Government-Opposition exchange of ideas on the litigious issues pertaining to the LFO-scheduled for Sunday would be marked by a synchronized elasticity. Earlier, there was an evident signal-with concentrated activity on both sides of the political divide, as the Government and the Opposition engaged themselves in serious pre-dialogue appraisal of their respective stances on the issues, which have kept the nation on tenterhooks politically and constitutionally for-almost over eight long months with no legislative work done by Parliament.

Just a day before the latest contact, President Gen Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali discussed the Government’s position on the LFO related contentious topics-in-depth. Simultaneously-Mr. Jamali chaired a joint meeting of the ruling PML (Q) parliamentary party-both in the Senate and the National Assembly-which has ostensibly reposed confidence in the Prime Minister and authorized him to resurrect talks with the Opposition. It’s heartening that Prime Minister Jamali did not append any pre-conditions to the discussion and instead signified emblem of flexibility.

Atypical Opposition, nevertheless, has its own dilemma in view of divergence of stances on some major issues by the cog parties, as a result of which the religio-political conglomeration lacks steadiness in meaningful decision making. Yet, its’ still not out-lived as both the Government and the Opposition ought to be conscious about the growing frustration in the public about their incapability to resolve the crisis, which has caused the nation losses-to the tune of billions of rupees on the parliamentarians’ salaries and perks, besides anguish and torment since Legislatures emergence in the wake of the classy but expensive polls.

They need to exhibit spirit of pragmatism, flexibility and accommodation to resolve the predicament, as the nation can not afford non-stop state of indistinctness n’ uncertainty in view of the country’s internal and external circumstances. Besides, they are required to be watchful of their obligations to provide relief to the masses, who are groaning under the mounting cost of living.

Paradoxically, both the Government and the Opposition have been hardening their positions ahead of the Sunday talks-explicitly-on the LFO. A ruling-party spokesman had overtly aired a rigid perception that the Government will not succumb to the pressure of the Opposition-in any way. On the other hand ARD came out with its echo that it would not show any plasticity on President’s uniform, Article 58/2(B) of the Constitution and the National Security Council.

Going by day-to-day events, from the day one the Government and the Opposition are moving back and forth on the issue of talks on LFO. There were some attempts to resolve the deadlock before the oath-taking of the new Government but the talks at last broke down. The Opposition agitated the issue fiercely on the floors of the Assemblies as a consequence of which the Government invited it for talks and a considerable headway was made but the end result was nothing except-a dismal. Sadly enough the two sides are not demonstrating the kind of suppleness in their outlook, which is a pre-requisite for the accomplishment of an interaction.

This farthest pose of the two sides is meditative of the severe polarization in our society. While we yearn for the democracy to flourish in the country, our conduct, as a nation, negates sincerity of our longing. Give and take, reciprocal adjustment and mutual perceptive are considered to be the essence of the democracy. Do we measure up to this yardstick? All the parties to the present pandemonium-like conditions, the Government and the Opposition political parties are claiming day in and day out that they believe in true democracy and want the democratic process to thrive.

One fails to understand why they can’t sort out the mixture of a problematic scenario in a spirit of indulgent and accommodation of each other’s visions. The country is entangled in the cobweb of friction and confrontation since long and it can no more afford this luxury that only suits vested interests. It is encouraging that the Prime Minister was fully cognizant of the need for a national consensus as is clear from his remarks in his address at a meeting of the PML (Q). He also expressed his resolve to take forward the process of reconciliation among political parties.

Similarly, within the Opposition itself MMA indicated its readiness to accept President’s uniform till October 2004. Taking this acuity in mind, the other political parties-opposing the government tooth n’ nail-are expected to sketch-out a flexible mode to bail the nation out of the persistent dilemma, if not as love for the Jamali-led democratic set-up, at least for the ultimate affluence of their electorates-which can most vibrantly be made possible only via an affable n’ convivial political n’ elected ambiance.

Simultaneously, we anticipate that the democratic government shall become a bit laissez-faire and shun n’ eschew the podium of a peculiar viewpoint about the apex leadership of the Opposition-dwelling beyond oceanic-to make them realize that a voted epoch when vanishes-revisits after a lot of complexities.

With such an ardent, not only that the de facto leaders of Opposition can sway their aficionados in Pakistan but can equally ensure fabulous vistas for the solidity of democracy-which came into being only through the on-time fulfillment of the pledge, the President made with the nation-soon after he took over the reigns of power-under the circumstances, well-known to all.

The loud and clear message, however is that like a face-to-face contact with MMA, the government must involve other opposition parties in the process of dialogue with an identical zest as it needs to be made a success-come what may.

The author is a noted journalist, political analyst and ex-Director News Pakistan TV. He is a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).