Eid again

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A partys position over the reformed GST has become a litmus test, of sorts, for its political expediency. At the moment, it is an open secret in the power corridors of Islamabad that the debate on the RGST is anything but a debate on the RGST. The snickering is audible in the Press Gallery, that abode of the cynics, in the parliament when the RGST issue comes up and legislators start making passionate pleas on behalf of the people. All the other, more innocent voices in the press railing against the government on grounds of it not taking its allies on board arent living in the real world. A party can take others on board only by discussing and weighing the merits and demerits of a piece of legislation; but the various parties, as can be testified by their flip-flops on the issue, are all looking for quid pro quos. The JUI-F will support the bill, apparently, only if its member heads the CII. The Q League, which isnt a monolithic entity (never was), has its position determined by which bit of it got what position in government. Though the ANP, to its credit, has specifically wished for an exclusion of three to four items from the list, the MQM is as ambiguous as only a party that wants something else could be, linking its acquiescence to, surprisingly, the agriculture tax.

Politics is the art of the possible. But it is a sad state of affairs when realpolitik completely overrides the issue itself. On the RGST, opposition and coalition parties alike appear on TV talk shows and mouth vague, populist slogans without even picking the subject up. If we had a truly vigilant media, it would be difficult to take a position against the proposed system, which is a genuine attempt to increase the documentation of our revenue collection system and limits the space for tax evasion. The PPP government has had a far from stellar record as far as governance is concerned but they have gotten this bit right.