On the path of democracy

Daily: The Nation
Date: 04.09.04

In a Pakistani-style democracy, these are the rulers who decide their people to get them
elected in the mid-term (approximately). Finally the people of Tharparkar (Sind) and Attock
(Punjab) — the safe constituencies — were asked to elect Mr. Shaukat Aziz as a candidate
for the Member of National Assembly (MNA), who was contesting bye-elections to become
the 23rd Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan.

Some one was asking why was there an economic imbalance amongst the various parts of
the same country, Pakistan? The cogent reply (reason) is: neglect. The glaring example is
that Mr. Aziz abandoned the seat of Thar where the poor people came on the ‘Kekras’, a
local vehicle, to cast their votes. However, the seat of Attock was kept apparently due to the
requests forwarded by the people of the constituency. However, the actual reasons seem
different. Firstly, Attock is nearer to Islamabad and secondly in his absence from the Prime
Ministerial constituency, the relatives of Ch. Shujat can look after it.

The statement reflects as if the people of Thar are less loving. Secondly, it seems that by
mistake the people of Thar could not make such a demand. Resultantly, the grievances of
a smaller province can grow further. Mr. Shaukat Aziz could have politely refused the
request of the people of Attock and adopted the Thar seat. In short, that is how the deprive
remain deprive by sheer neglect — deliberately or otherwise!

The August 27, 2004 will be remembered as a day when the divided opposition suddenly
became united in the lower house to carve out an unprecedented parliamentary history of
its own nature in Pakistan. It happened when the Speaker of the National Assembly,
Chaudhry Ameer Hussain, through two rulings, firstly accepted the nomination papers of
Mr. Javed Hashmi, the other contestant for the leader of the house, but later refused to
issue his production orders for appearance in the house to contest election physically.

The whole episode proved two points. Firstly, the Speaker was caught unprepared.
Ostensibly, the Speaker wanted to keep engaged the opposition in the Parliament for the
voting session. However, before the doors were closed for the session, the opposition
unanimously walked out. When it was still debatable whether the first ruling was wrong or
the second one, the united opposition accomplished its part of job: frustrate the
government benches! Secondly, the opposition did not consider Mr. Hashmi liable for
accusation with sedition.

The occurrence cast its dark shadow on the oath ceremony of the new PM on August 28,
2004 when the event was boycotted by the united opposition. The attitude of the
opposition, that is, to get united and show a unanimous dissatisfaction with the on-going
political process, forebodes what is going to happen on the uniform issue of the President
General Musharraf! Hence, it seems that the interpretation of the second ruling of the
Speaker as well as of the 17th Constitutional amendment (for or against the uniform) will
remain the hot topics, at least, till December 31, 2004. The same also holds an ingrained
potential to keep the political atmosphere of Pakistan warm unless the next elections — on
or before time.

The process of transfer of power has been declared a sign of political maturity despite the
fact that the people, generally, were not actually consulted but just informed. That is why,
perhaps, the people, generally, have given a cold response to any such exclusion or
inclusion. Secondly, the response of the international media was also lifeless towards the
change of face. Thirdly, in a mature political system, the situation is not brought to the
extent that opposition could take the aforementioned steps.

The former PM (Mr. Jamali) once said, “The previous governments have not been able to
complete their tenure”. However, now, the government (assembly) is completing its tenure,
except him. He should have said, “The previous PMs have not been able to complete their
tenure”. Previously, in order to remove a PM the whole assembly used to feel the agony of
abolition. However, now, in order to save an assembly, the PMs are being ejected —
voluntarily! However, it is hoped that the trend is approaching to a halt for, at least, the
remaining almost half term of the on going term ending 2007.

Its one of the reasons is the emergence of the concept of troika, first ever time in the
political history of Pakistan. In order to engrave the idea of the ‘government for the people’,
the power at the apex has been divided — unceremoniously — in to three parts. The affairs
of executive and finance will be looked after by the PM; the matters of national and
international significance will fall in the ambit of the President of Pakistan; and the President
of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) will adjudge the internal political issues and of the party
members/workers.

There are two other interesting features of the trend. First, the once aspiring candidates for
the PM post are being appeased, directly or indirectly, through certain inclusions in the
Cabinet. Secondly, the situation generally is remindful of the era of Zia-ul-Haq (late) when
the first wave of the political leaders for Pakistani politics was prepared of which Mr. Nawaz
Sharif is an example. Now, the second wave of the military-patronized political leaders is in
making as new faces. The destiny of the first wave is obvious, however, the fate of the
second wave is still to be seen.

Now, it will be interesting to watch how, in the presence of an active united opposition in the
house; in the company of two other ends of the troika for power sharing; in the surrounding
of the former fifty contenders; and in spearheading the second wave of political leaders, the
new PM will steer the country, on a path of democracy, in a direction where it could come
up to the expectations of a common Pakistani!

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