Bumpy road ahead

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In a welcome move, President Zardari has reached out to Mian Nawaz Sharif at a time when the PPP-led coalition faces challenges from its allies. That the allies have decided to oppose two bills being piloted by the administration indicates the way ahead for the government would be rocky.

The MQM, ANP and JUI(F) had disowned the four member parliamentary committee for the appointment of judges maintaining that the decision was taken without consulting the allies. The MQM and JUI have now rejected the RGST while ANP has sought important modifications in it. The dissenting allies are also up against the flood surcharge. With the PPP lacking majority in the respective standing committees of the National Assembly and Senate, the RGST and flood surcharge bills are likely to be blocked at the committee level. With the opposition also denouncing the bills, the only way to get a parliamentary approval is by persuading the critics to abstain from attending the meetings of the two houses when the bills are presented for voting.

There are two ways to deal with the increasing challenges. The PPP can continue to yield to the extortionist demands of its allies, the most recent example being the appointment of a cleric with controversial views regarding women and minorities to the post of CII chairman. Fulfilling their unending demands and condoning their shortcomings would however lead to a further degradation of governance which even now leaves much to be desired. This would also mire the image of the government in the publics eyes. The second option is to seek support from the PML(N) which has predicated it on measures against corruption and the frequent price hikes. PML(N) has already forwarded its proposals on both issues. There are many who would readily agree that the size of the government, increased to accommodate numerous allies, has to be trimmed, leakages of revenue stopped and the phenomenon of endemic corruption brought under control.