After the withdrawal: there is a lull

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There are yet sins the PML-N will come to rue

 

We move from one crisis to another. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s judicial indictment was yet not over – it had just entered the crucial JIT phase when Dawn leaks and the security breach report surfaced, dealing a severe blow to his government by bringing the army into confrontation. DG ISPR’s tweet, which has since been withdrawn, had made the atmosphere more ominously vicious.
I have always maintained that in a democracy any government’s strength lies in the strength of its Parliament. In our country where the civilian government has always to roller coasters itself through perpetual bad weather, symbol of its strength – the Parliament – supposed to be the reservoir of all power – is neither heard of nor approached.

 

While not undermining the weaknesses of the PM and his flagging government bitterly divided within, their most unpardonable crime is that by their utter disregard to the precedence set by former President Zardari and his government for strengthening parliamentary democracy brick by brick over its tenure of five years, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s four years have dealt blow after blow to make the institution practically infructuous. Since quite some time no issue of national, security or geo-strategic importance has been taken up on its floor – be it the appointment of former Army Chief as head of the so far phantom army to fight what is considered to be in popular perception – a sectarian conflict, or the scathing Supreme Court verdict in the Panama money laundering case, or a debate over Dawn.
The desperate decision last month by the Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani to step down in protest against the contemptuous attitude of the ruling party towards the Parliament was definitely a drastic censure of the PM and his ministers for their low priority to parliament undermining its position as a sovereign institution. Chairman Rabbani decided to quit since despite his repeated warnings and protestations by the opposition parties, the slumbering PML-N leadership did not rise from its contemptuous inertia.
Indeed, the Raza Rabbani episode seemed to be a manifestation of the PML-N suicidal mindset. Despite the fact that it was Parliament that saved PML-N government time again, stood up like a rock to thwart the attempt of the PTI dharnas and threat of the invisible umpire’s finger, that almost dislodged it in 2014, instead of strengthening it as the source and arbiter of all power, the government adopted a policy of acquiescing more space by providing temptation to the extra constitutional forces and their Trojan horses to take advantage of it.

 

The PM appears to have forgotten that it was the unprecedented unity shown in the Parliament that did not let Imran Khan’s umpire raise his finger.  This despicable attitude is nothing but a state of power drunkenness. Prime Minister’s lack of interest in the Parliament added to by the gross disrespect shown to it by his ministers, their pathological abhorrence to attend its proceedings and failure to bring about legislations, have all also been too dismal.

No doubt PPP government did not perform well on account of various factors beyond its control including highest ever oil prices, parallel government through so-called judicial activism of a paranoid Chief Justice who wanted to be the king backed by MNS and PML-N. And yet credit must be given to it for its record of legislations including landmark 18th Amendment. Not only that it’s prime ministers and ministers upheld the importance of the Parliament by an admirable attendance record. Last but not the least, it created history by becoming the first elected government to survive its five year tenure to pass the baton on to the next.

Confusion being the style of governance and most of the ministers at logger head with each other or drawing swords with civil bureaucrats, it gives the impression that a stage is being set for the curtains to be dawn. Not only the has the Prime Minister had to sack his Special Assistant for Foreign Office (Syed Tariq Fatmi) and Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin while Information Minister Pervez Rasheed was already out for the security leak, the resignation of Federal Minister for Provincial Co-ordination Riaz Pirzada in protest against alleged high corruption of Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary does not seem something in isolation. Latest being the rejection by all three of their being singled out for security leak as baseless- it seems that more sinister things are likely to happen.

That being that, more fireworks are expected in due course, it is regretted that the PML-N government – by its questionable competence and conduct – is responsible for acquiescing in more space by the day to extra-constitutional forces waiting for their turn to strike. Notwithstanding their trumpeting of a tall order of monumental achievements, they must remember that history has a tendency to repeat itself much too often.