Articles of the year 2009

Equally Guilty
Published on November 14th, 2009

The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) has, over the last year, assumed the stance of a 'soft' opposition in the National Assembly. This position is not understandable to the people of Pakistan, for as any student of politics could explain, any policy of the government that causes damage to the masses is the responsibility of the assembly both treasury and opposition benches. The opposition cannot divorce itself from the onus of sharing the guilt, for while in the assembly their responsibility is for the good and the bad.

A case in point is the NRO debacle. While the N-League dithered, Altaf Husain demanded that Zardari step down, threatening to leave the coalition. The PPP government immediately backed down and withdrew the notorious NRO giving the MQM a spectacular victory. The timing of the move was brilliant, and showed the hollowness of the PPP position. The MQM has managed with only 26 members against the PPP's 125 into submission. The MQM, having benefited the most under the controversial law, decided wisely that the NRO was indeed dead, and the benefits already taken were more than enough. The PML-N were prattling on about their 'no benefit' position while the MQM were having their cake and eating it too!

It is, indeed, surprising that the PML-N having a surfeit of thinking politicians on the floor of the House - and outside, are making such huge mistakes. The most important being their avowed declaration that they will not rock the boat. This is not understandable as there are many issues wherein the government can be shown to be inept and corrupt, and dismissal is a major option, or threat a la the MQM move. Today with such a threat the PPP is the biggest loser, and realising this, would be prepared to compromise on all issues. However, Nawaz's offer of allowing the PPP government to see it through its allotted five year term is not understandable. The PML-N stance of not derailing the system, a system that allows the suffering of 170 million people with no flour, sugar, or electricity is horrifying and will go against the N-League. It is in everybody's interest to send home this corrupt band of ministers, and start from scratch.

Nawaz Sharif should immediately call for action against corruption and corrupt practices, in the assembly and outside. With an honest and resolute Supreme Court, Pakistan can swiftly move ahead, against the corrupt cases coming to light daily. As dangerous as the corrupt, are the inept, when combined, the recipe for disaster is complete. The interior minister who is on the purported exit list of the Cabinet for some time now, is lingering, but for how long will he continue to wreak his damage?

Nawaz Sharif should also start on his rounds of the terror afflicted areas, and visit these places to condole and to offer solace to those orphaned, or widowed.

Meanwhile the disturbing stories of interviews given, with inappropriate remarks damage the federation, and must be avoided. The slimy machinations of the ambassador to the US must be stopped forthwith, with sensible experienced persons brought on board. Lest he create more problems for Pakistan. The importance of Pakistan to the region and the neighbouring countries, ensures that we will be under constant scrutiny, by the media, where every word will be dissected and criticised at every opportunity. The president should have seasoned handlers when facing reporters like Seymour Hersh, who are capable of turning out a world class story at our cost.

The PML-N cannot shirk its responsibility of becoming a serious opposition, and the threat of derailing the system does not apply because these excuses have already been tried and have failed miserably. The danger comes from allowing the present level of governance to continue, for as any player knows, the higher the stakes the greater the loss. At stake is the economic survival and well being of 170 million Pakistanis. This important fact is being ignored, and if corrective measures are not taken we shall surely become a failed state, at the very least we will have missed the economic opportunities on offer.

Just as the Nawaz League is equally responsible for the looming disaster, we the people are responsible for not throwing out the inept and corrupt. We the people should make our presence felt - for if they are thieves they should be treated as such, and whenever seen in public should be pilloried abused by us the voters. Eggs and tomatoes should be our weapons, maybe shoes as a last resort.