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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Go to the People.

Mohammed Yousuf
Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 9:49pm
The Supreme Court has made it clear that it would not bestow legitimacy to any extra-constitutional act of taking over the government and the military establishment has given assurance that it does not intend to derail the democratic process.Pakistan Muslim League (N) has shown great maturity by declaring that it will oppose any military intervention. Almost all important political parties have supported the democratic process. Same is the stand taken by the media in general and representatives of the civil society in particular.But then this leads us to the question: what next?
For the PPP leadership it is the time for introspection and soul-searching. It needs to reform itself and become more responsive to people’s demands and aspirations. No one can challenge the authority of the government if it is able to command popular trust and respect.
Obviously the best course for the ruling coalition is to address the grievances of the people and focus on improving the quality of governance. It should address the complaints of corruption, favouritism, nepotism, breakdown in law and order, energy crisis, mismanagement in state corporations, inflation, economic meltdown and other issues. It also has to show that it respects the other institutions of the state as “as it desires to be respected.
If the present slide continues, the people may get completely tired and ultimately become fed up of the civilian rule. The fatigue is already visible. To be frank, it is largely due to the Imran Khan factor that a considerable segment of masses has retained some hope in democratic process.
The PPP should understand that, despite all proclamations in the favour of democracy, there is a thresh hold of tolerance and the army or the Supreme Court may perforce decide to wind up the system in national interests if there is a further deterioration in governance and if the government continues on the collision course.
The possibility of such an eventuality is highly pronounced, despite the clear and forth right announcement by both the institutions, given the propensity of the incumbent Zardari-Gilani dispensation to provoke confrontation with these state institutions.
Such an eventuality will be a reality if they were to indulge in any ill-conceived adventurism against the Army and Judiciary. They ought to take a leaf from the contemporary instances of such adventurism by Nawaz Sharif in 1993 and again by Nawaz Sharif in October 1999.
For the government the best course would be to resign and go to the people for a fresh mandate, but it is a tall order for the incumbent government, although the entire dispensation is crying hoarse thatit believes in the power of ballot.
Hence, given the prevailing environment, for the opposition, the best course available is to resign from the assemblies and force the government to go for the fresh polls.
After the resignations the opposition should simultaneously press for having an independent Election Commission, preparation of fool proof voters’ list as directed by the Supreme Court and peaceful conduct of polling on the day of elections.
It should not insist on resignation or removal of President Zardari as a prerequisite for transparent and fair general elections. Any such demand would be unconstitutional and would set a bad example. As for the President, let the cases before the Supreme Court run its course and the President should honour, abide and bow before the outcome of those cases.
Asfar as the controversial memo is concerned, let there be an inquiry commission by the Supreme Court and let it submit its report to the Supreme Court and let the Supreme Court decide the future line of action and if anyone is found responsible, the laws should take its own course, may it be Haqqani or even the President.
The army has already got over stretched. Its primary responsibility is to defend the country against foreign aggression and internal insurgencies. It should not offer an opportunity to the PPP leaders to go down as martyrs. Any reckless adventurism will bring bad name to the army and it would be thoroughly discredited in a short span.
It is not in the interest of the country to upset the applecart when elections are possible constitutionally and that is the only democratic way to go forward.
There’s certainly a lot of legitimate debate about what exactly government is supposed to be expected to do, and what is the best way to go about doing it. Perhaps you in fact think it appropriate to take some people’s money at gunpoint to give to poor folks (like YOU, no doubt). But recognize this is what you are doing, and don’t kid yourself that it’s something truly different than if you just walked into the bank with a gun — other than you’re getting someone else to do your dirty work. The stick-up artist is just cutting out the middleman. As HL Mencken memorably put it, “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
That said, Mr President and Mr Prime Minister, seize the moment and go to the people, your government has run out of steam. Live up to what you preach and let the change come through the ballot, the power of the ballot is what we need in sheer defence; else what shall save us from a second slavery?
However, do not misunderstand and think that ballots are the opposite of bullets. They are not. They are just a substitute for muting direct violence, not the elimination of violence.


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