Nawaz’s chance

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For PML-N the way forward is to work together with other parties

The PML-N President and the future Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif, went to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital to inquire about the welfare of PTI chief Imran Khan and reportedly told the reporters after the meeting that putting the bitterness of the electoral campaign behind, both Imran Khan and he, had agreed to bury the hatchet and work together to surmount the challenges facing the country. He also made it a point that he would respect the mandate of PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. This gesture of Mian Nawaz Sharif is the best example of humility in victory, a rare human trait. The large heartedness shown by Mian sahib has gone well with the masses and those who were apprehensive about the continuation of hostility and confrontation between the two parties in the backdrop of the heat generated during the election campaign and the allegations of rigging in Punjab levelled by Imran Khan.

Imran Khan also needs to be complimented for reciprocating the goodwill gesture and political initiative of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan is at the crossroads and it can hardly afford the continuation of confrontation among the political entities. Mian sahib is well advised to also recognise and respect the mandate of the parties who have won majority seats in other provinces and discourage the underhand wheeling and dealing to fabricate coalitions in disregard to the mandate given by the people. In Balochistan, which has a split mandate, it would perhaps be in the fitness of things to work out an arrangement whereby a Baloch nationalist, preferably Akhtar Mengal, is installed as the chief minister. It will really help in tackling the insurgency and removing the sense of deprivation.

It is really sad that some of the political parties are back to their old ways and trying to cast doubts about the credibility of the entire electoral process by levelling allegations of extensive rigging and even taking to streets to put pressure on the ECP for re-polling in those constituencies. The scenario in Karachi is particularly very regrettable. The MQM chief Altaf Hussain, as usual, has committed the indiscretion of hurling threats on the political opponents and the media and even alluded to separation of Karachi from Sindh. Though he has climbed down from earlier posturing and called off the sit-in by the workers of the party, his convulsions have invited a very severe backlash. He needs to act more responsibly as the words spoken are sometimes more damaging than the wounds inflicted by guns. Karachi is already like a seething volcano and therefore nothing should be done to precipitate the crisis.

There is no denying the fact that a number of instances of irregularities, mismanagement and administrative flaws in coordination among different agencies have occurred at some places but there is no evidence of any organised rigging on a massive scale as being alleged by some parties. Therefore, instead of reinforcing the impression of being sore losers, they should revisit their strategies and let the ECP look into the complaints and come up with plausible solutions and remedial actions as prescribed under law. The ECP has already constituted 14 tribunals to deal with complaints pertaining to elections and is also in contact with the political parties in a bid to redress their grievances.

The sapling of democracy needs to be nurtured to become a strong tree capable of weathering the gusty winds instead of being trampled by inflated egos and false prides. Democracy is the only way we can move forward and leave a good legacy for the posterity. The political parties need to establish healthy democratic norms and traditions and prove their commitment through concrete actions rather than words. Democracy is the art of possible. The political entities therefore should not vie for something that is impossible to achieve. The enormity and gravity of the challenges faced by the country needs a concrete and determined cooperative effort by all the stakeholders to work out a broad based strategy to deal with those challenges. No single party, even enjoying majority in the legislatures can stabilise the lurching ship. The scenario emerging out of the electoral exercise also dictates the adoption of a cooperative approach.

It is said that wise people learn from the experience of others while the fools learn through their own mistakes. Regrettably, we as a nation have failed on both counts. Neither have we learnt from the experience of others nor have we learnt any lessons from our own setbacks and tragedies. However, we cannot afford this luxury anymore. There is no escape from reality. The reality is that we are where we are due to the shenanigans of the military dictators and self-serving politicians who have ruled the roost and encouraged the politics of graft and entitlement and indulged in reckless corruption which provided the predators to derail democracy repeatedly.

Neither was any attempt made to reform the political system nor was a viable security policy evolved to ward off the dangers lurking on the horizon. Our economic policies regrettably have been dominated by political considerations rather than being embedded in economic realities. The emphasis has been more on prestige projects in complete disregard to the necessity-led approach. All this has to change and a new beginning made. The rulers will have to tell the truth to the people about the state of the economy and the sacrifices they will have to make for its revival, the true nature of the security threat and above all the political reforms that are needed to improve the system of governance.

To accomplish these arduous tasks, some constitutional amendments and legal measures will have to be put in place, which will require an unstinted support of all the political parties. It is now or never. Therefore all the political leaders will have to set aside their narrow political interests and work collectively for the national good. Politicking can wait for better times. Bringing about the required transformation will be a big challenge for Mian sahib and it is hoped that he will not repeat the past mistakes and prove himself equal to the trust reposed in him by the people.

The writer is an academic.