Need for accountability


It has become patently predictable for the prime minister to keep repeating, ad nauseam, that his government will complete its five-year term. Of late, he has been adding spice to his perennial harangue by insisting that there will be no martial law and those dreaming of mid-term elections are enemies of the country. While he seems to have ample time to think of forces that may be working for the imposition of military rule in the country when there are none, one wonders whether he has any time at all to discover where is his governments governance and what has it done for the welfare of the people of Pakistan since it assumed the mantle back in the beginning of 2008?

Any democratically elected government would always be focused on its people-friendly policies. If, on the other hand, there is only an unending splashing of semantics with regard to a government completing its term irrespective, one tends to believe that it may be doing little by way of actual work. But, if a government is caught conspiring to thwart the movement for the acceptance of the rule of law, one tends to start questioning its credentials and motives also.

There is a growing consensus that the present government has managed to accumulate a massive baggage of broken promises and commitments. Having entered the corridors of power riding an election victory mostly comprising of sympathy votes in the wake of the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and not withstanding her controversial contract with a sitting dictator ensuring personal survival vide the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), the PPP could still have endeared itself to the people if it had implemented even some of its pre-election promises. On the contrary, it took off on a course incorporating the worst of the dictatorial culture encompassing an acute scarcity of public welfare programmes, confronting the judiciary and an absence of the inherent democratic pre-requisite of transparent and effective governance.

Since the infatuation of the present PPP rule has been one-person-centric, it could never break away from the consequent need of curbing the probing eye of a large opposition, the ascendancy of an independent judiciary (that it tried to subvert to the last!) and a widely informative role played by the media (that it has been thinking of shackling again!) and, hence, fell a handy victim to its own misdemeanours. Rattled by a string of accusations regarding rampant corruption, display of arrogance and defiance in the face of the Supreme Court adjudications and the absence of any credible initiatives to tackle the growing problems of the people, the government has been left with no alternative but to keep harping on its democratic right to complete its term.

What makes matters worse is the predilection of the ruling hierarchy to cry hoarse over the supposed undemocratic intentions behind every effort to replace it. All such endeavours are construed as posing a danger to the nascent democratic system. While completing its term is a right of the incumbent coalition, the right to replace it through means duly enshrined in the constitution cannot be denied to the opposition. It must understand that in the face of a perpetuation of ill-governance, people will be constrained to look for options that would give them hope for the resolution of their problems and they would rally behind political forces that they believe are more suited to doing so.

Faced with sizeable dissension from within and an immature political thought process that is glued to the need of shielding one person from prosecution, the public posturing of the prime minister makes for an extremely comical enactment. What one reads in this repetitive act is that, in spite of the apparent paucity of options that a growing opposition may have at this juncture, the prime minister, being acutely conscious of the shortcomings of his government, is making a vain effort to shield it behind an ill-suited bravado. He does not realize the extent to which the foundations of his political edifice have been shaken nor does he realize that no bravado, in spite of how smartly it may be tailored and how proficiently acted, can save his blundering game plan. And he has no one to blame except the grave inadequacies of his own government and the rampaging corruption of the people associated with it.

The prime minister has to get his act together. Instead of pointing accusing fingers at phantoms of his imagination, he needs to look inwards and try to make amends for the grave mistakes that have been made in the two and a half years of, what he never tires of calling, his democratic government. There is a need for snap accountability of all ranks and files and, like it happens in any democratic dispensation, this must begin at the top. It is time for the prime minister to show the courage if he has any conviction. He should present himself for accountability and let the rest follow without exception before the tides of time take over.

The writer is a political analyst.