The Maulana has no legitimate cause

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  • Every election, losers always claim rigging

The Azadi March, largely comprising dedicated followers of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, finally reached Islamabad on the evening of 31 October and he along with stalwarts of the PML-N and PPP– inebriated by the presence of the large crowd– made provocative speeches and vowed to continue their struggle to bring down the PTI government. The Maulana demanded resignation by the Prime Minister and gave him the deadline of two days to fulfill it, also hinting at the possibility of moving towards D-Chowk and even going to the Prime Minister House to arrest its inmate.

Nobody in his right mind can endorse the demand by the Maulana, also supported by the main political parties, which does not serve the cause of democracy besides violating all norms of democratic behavior. The move is quintessential of the culture of power politics with its basic purpose of achieving access to the corridors of power by hook or crook. The threat to attack the residence of the Prime Minister to seek his resignation is tantamount to encouraging mob rule and creating anarchy in the country which cannot be endorsed by any sane person or allowed by the government and the state. His implied warning to the state institutions is also regrettable, to say the least.

While it is hard to take issue with the right of the political parties in the opposition to criticize and oppose the policies of the sitting government, which is the true essence of a democratic dispensation, it is at the same time not legitimate for them to indulge in moves to destabilize the entire system for the sake of their narrow political ends. As far as the Maulana is concerned, he may have thousands of dedicated followers across the country now present in Islamabad– but the reality is that his party has never won a big mandate of the people throughout the electoral history of Pakistan to form a government on its own either in the centre or the province. It was only during the Musharraf era, when the party was part of MMA formed a government in KP. It has four seats in the present Senate of 100 members. It is part of the MMA, which has only 15 seats in the National Assembly. It is really a shame that a party with so little representation at the national level should try to pull down a legitimately elected government. The ploy adopted by the Maulana can only be described as an improvident move by a frustrated gambler.

It is hoped that better sense will prevail and the Maulana would refrain from playing the role of spoiler and consigning the country to anarchy and political instability. All stakeholders need to show political maturity with the single-mindedness of promoting national interests. The media also needs to play a constructive role during this crisis to thwart the designs of self-seekers like the Maulana and other political elements by educating the masses about the illegitimacy of their cause

It is a painful reality that even after more than seven decades since its independence , Pakistan is still groping in the dark to find the direction envisioned by its founding father and remains a distant competitor with the countries which emerged on the global map just about the same time, with regard to economic prosperity and alleviation of poverty. The greater blame for this state of affairs can be justifiably apportioned to power politics recklessly indulged in by the political elite and the political parties at the cost of consolidation of the gains of independence. It has almost become visceral for the political parties losing elections to question the validity of the polls and indulge in all sorts of tactics to pull the government down before it completes its tenure. This culture has done irretrievable damage to our body politic by giving birth to perennial political instability, which in turn has also undermined economic progress of the country besides scuttling the avenues of strengthening democracy.

The claim of the opposition parties that the PTI government came into being as a result of rigged elections and therefore it was imperative to send it home does not make any sense in view of the fact that there are legal avenues available to deal with such complaints. If these parties thought that in certain constituencies rigging had been done, their candidates should have challenged the results in all those constituencies in the election tribunals constituted for the purpose and even gone into appeal against their decisions in the higher judiciary. In the absence of their having taken the legal course to establish their claims about rigging, nobody except the diehard members of the losing parties can give credence to their assertion. The alleged poor economic performance of the government also does not justify the proposed agitation.

The political parties would better serve the cause of democracy by allowing the PTI government to complete its tenure while they keep trying to change public perceptions about its performance through the avenues that are available to them in the form of media and Parliament. Mere change of government is not the solution as it would further aggravate the developing situation and create an ambience of political uncertainty in the country which it can ill afford.

The government has taken the right step to engage the Maulana and the other parties to dissuade them from the proposed agitation and also to accommodate their legitimate grievances as reported by the media. The deadline for seeking resignation of the Prime Minister has passed while efforts are also afoot to defuse the situation. It is encouraging to note that though the PML(N) and PPP support Maulana in bringing down the government they are not willing to participate in, or support, the proposed sit-in. It is also a positive development that the Maulana, addressing the participants of the March on Sunday evening, announced that they would not move to D-Chowk and instead of announcing any unilateral action, and that he decided to consult other political parties regarding the future course of action. He also quashed the possibility of going to the Prime Minister House. It is hoped that better sense will prevail and the Maulana would refrain from playing the role of spoiler and consigning the country to anarchy and political instability. All stakeholders need to show political maturity with the single-mindedness of promoting national interests. The media also needs to play a constructive role during this crisis to thwart the designs of self-seekers like the Maulana and other political elements by educating the masses about the illegitimacy of their cause.