Politics thy name is hypocrisy


COMMENT – The number-weak government on Friday crossed the first obstacle. The Senate passed the recommendations by its committee on the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) with a voice-vote when louder than “no”, the “ayes” had it.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) played the key role in denting the strong opposition camp by opting to walk out just before Chairman Farook Naek called for the voice-vote. Though the PML-Q apparently walked out from the House in protest against the chairman’s refusal to allow opposition leader Wasim Sajjad’s proposal, it was a well-orchestrated move to facilitate the Pakistan People’s Party by leaving the field open as part of an understanding already reached between the two parties.
The timing of the walkout exposed the “deal”. There was no doubt that in the presence of the PML-Q senators, the “no” would have been much louder than the “ayes” and the recommendations of the committee would stand rejected. The voices the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) senators, who made fiery speeches against the RGST, also choked when it came to vote against the recommendations. Only the PML-N and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) members, who were no match to the PPP’s vociferous strength, said “no”.
The Awami National Party (ANP) openly supported the government, claiming that most of its recommendations had been accepted. The chairman too played a partisan role and blatantly acted in favour of the government. He did not entertain the request by the opposition leader to allow his note of proposal and despite the fact that a majority of senators was in its favour, he not only exercised his discretion
in support of a minority (the government) but also went to the extent of making an unprecedented encouraging remark that cheered the visibly worried law minister and the treasury members. As the members protested, the chairman went beyond even that and made history by expunging his own remarks.
The PML-Q’s walkout from the House was understandably with the purpose to bail out the PPP and it had certainly not happened without any give and take as there is always a quid pro quo for everything in politics. The deal is done and the details will soon start coming into the public eye. This was just a prelude to the courtship between the two worst political rivals – the “qatil league” becomes “friends’ league”.
The MQM played politics to the galleries. Knowing that Agriculture Tax was a provincial subject, its senators made it a point that the party would support the RGST bill only if the federal government accepted their demand to tax the landlords. Though they kept making a noise throughout the proceedings, they surprisingly choked when it came to saying “no”. They did chant “no to RGST” but after the recommendations had been passed – too late and too hypocritical.
The JUI-F was equally hand in glove with the government. Its senators behaved the way the MQM’s did. They read out their dissenting note, making it loud and clear that the party rejected the RGST bill in totality. But the political mullahs did not deviate from the script. They registered their opposition to the RGST bill but also cunningly stood with the government like the MQM as their voices also clogged up.
After all, the JUI-F had clinched one more constitutional position of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) chairman as part of a deal with the government and it was time to pay back. Farook Naek did not act impartially and proved his loyalty to the PPP beyond an iota of doubt. He ignored the PML-N demand to count the votes in favour of the recommendations knowing that it would force the MQM and the JUI-F to clearly and on-the-record vote against the recommendations and bring a crushing defeat to the government as a consequence of the vote count.
Nothing different is expected to happen in the National Assembly when the RGST bill will come up for the house to pass it.