A healthy democracy is based on constructive criticism by the opposition not senseless finger-pointing
The sitting governments all over the world have the disadvantage of incumbency. The opposition parties try to belittle the achievements and policies of the ruling parties using the touchstone of their own perceptions and stated positions on particular issues, which is quite understandable in the democratic dispensations. However in the more established democracies the opposition to the government policies and strategies is more or less based on set democratic traditions in a way that it does not jeopardize the national interests. But in nascent democracies and in the third world countries, like Pakistan where no such traditions exist, opposition means denigrating the sitting governments no matter how good their policies and performance is. Sometimes the focus is also on destabilizing the sitting government as has been the case in Pakistan.
There are also lobbies within the political parties and society who are essentially hostile to the government and never let go of an opportunity to have a swipe at it or its leaders. And when this phenomenon descends into the realm of cynicism – which is a state of mind when people lose the faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong – those suffering from it invariably tend to look at the darker aspects of everything. Unfortunately our political culture is more prone to cynicism than healthy and constructive criticism which is a nourishing ingredient of a democratic set up.
The phenomenon of cynicism has been more pronounced in Pakistani politics during the last four years, notwithstanding the fact that the country under the present government has been able to surmount some of the formidable and debilitating inherited challenges and these achievements have been duly acknowledged and appreciated at the global level.
The most appreciated and endorsed achievement of the present government has been the revival of the economy through prudent economic management which saw the GDP growth rate rising to 5.3% (highest in the last ten years) in 2017 from a dismally low rate of 3% in 2013. The budgetary deficit which stood at 8.8% in 2013 has been brought down to 4.4%. The international lending and rating agencies have repeatedly acknowledged and endorsed this economic revival.
The IMF has attributed this success to consumer confidence and fiscal reforms. Not only that it has also predicted GDP growth rate of 5.5% and 5.8% during 2018 and 2019 respectively, which is very encouraging. The prospects of progress and prosperity are much brighter in the future and the economists believe that the implementation of CPEC would add another 2% to the GDP growth rate.
To be honest, the government has not only succeeded in reviving the economy but has also tamed the existentialist threat posed by terrorism and religious extremism to a great extent and the fight against this scourge continues with even greater success. Karachi, notwithstanding sporadic flashbacks, has become more peaceful than before and gives a semblance of normalcy. Insurgency in Baluchistan has been contained and every now and then we hear the news about surrender of the insurgents before the security agencies. The energy crisis may not have been overcome yet but power outages have been reduced considerably and hopefully the country will get rid of this problem by the end of 2018 when all the power producing projects launched under CPEC would add 10,600 Megawatts of electricity to the system.
The foregoing developments are almost irrefutable. But our opposition parties are not prepared to acknowledge them and are perpetually engaged in denigrating and belittling these achievements succumbing to their streak of cynicism. They are also engaged in the efforts to destabilize the government, particularly the PTI whose focus has been on political vendetta rather than on strengthening democracy and state institutions which are imperative for peace and progress of the country. The party has recklessly indulged in mud-slinging at national and constitutional institutions and shown disrespect and lack of trust in them besides unleashing an un-ending smear campaign against its political opponents, particularly the person of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
Unfortunately the syndrome of cynicism among our politicians has been the bane of our socio-economic progress. Its continuity and refusal by the politicians to learn from the bitter experiences of the past, does not augur well for the country. The politics of self-aggrandizement must give way to politics of sanity, respect for the mandate of the people and an uncompromising commitment to national causes.
The Panama case was a classic example of disgruntled politicians getting together to destabilize the government of an opponent party which realistically speaking is the most popular political entity as reflected by the results in the general elections, local bodies polls, public franchise in AJK and the outcomes of almost all the bye-elections. The opposition parties are motivated by political vendetta, rather than an honest move to deal with the problem of rampant corruption or putting in place a fool-proof legal framework for ensuring across the board accountability. It clearly presents a spectacle of a witch-hunt and burning witches with relish.
Can any of the politicians and parties which petitioned the SC and others who consider themselves the custodians of national morality declare on oath that they fulfill the requirements of article 62 and 63? The answer regrettably is an emphatic No. They know that they cannot reach the corridors of power through genuine means i.e. through ballot. It is a typical pattern that we have been witnessing in the past, with disgruntled politicians getting together to orchestrate a regime change or malign the sitting government to settle scores with it.
In the backdrop of the disqualification of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the SC certain political elements are hell bent to foment an ambience of uncertainty in the country by letting out all sort of feelers in regards to the completion of tenure by the incumbent government and the installation of government of technocrats. That indeed is a very regrettable situation. These elements are playing with the future of the country not realizing that all the fault lines and ailments afflicting the socio-political fiber of the country could only be cured through the progression of democracy which has inbuilt mechanism for gradual and sustained reformation. The elected governments must complete their tenures and people be allowed to orchestrate change through ballot. That is the prescription bequeathed by the founding father. Any deviation from that course will keep us wandering in the wilderness in search of our destination.