February 15, 2008

Political parties and the election caveat

Filed under: ELECTIONS - 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 4:02 am
Tags: , , , ,


FEBRUARY 15, 2008


February 15, 2008 Friday Safar 07, 1429

SO Mr Asif Ali Zardari is more than testing the waters in Punjab. Settling into the post of the People’s Party co-chairmanship, he has called for a broad-based government after Monday’s elections, a wish that finds resonance with Mr Nawaz Sharif, the seemingly strong man in his home province. Together, the PPP and the PML-N are arguably the two parties with wider appeal that goes beyond their respective provincial strongholds. Their agreement on working with each other in the post-election scenario, and leaving the door open for other parties like the MQM and the JUI, for instance, who may wish to join them in the quest of putting together a stable democratic government, augurs well for the country. This positive thinking is developing at a time when challenges abound, not least of which is a fragmenting national, political fibre. However, for a broad-based future coalition government to take any concrete form, it is leaders like the Sharifs who would need to either soften their stand on the reinstatement of the ousted judges and the acceptability of President Musharraf as head of state or convince others to back them in their stance. Failing this, the PML-N may have to settle for the opposition benches in the coming assemblies. One says this because even if the PML-N were to sweep the polls in Punjab, a prospect wide open to question, it may not be possible for it to convince the majority vote-winning parties to go along with its take on the judiciary and the president. But nothing can be ruled out in politics; Mr Sharif, since the signing of the Charter of Democracy with the late Ms Bhutto in May 2006, has shown the flexibility that is needed to take others along or to go along with them on important issues.

Hopes of any political stability to follow Monday’s election and a consensus government to take shape hinge wholly on polls being held and seen to be held as free and fair. The responsibility to see the electoral process through in a transparent manner rests with the government. But a bit of counsel is in order here for all contesting parties too. Inflammable rhetoric and threats of violence in case of suspected rigging, such as those emanating from certain quarters in the run-up to the election in recent days, must be avoided. The country has paid a daunting price for political violence whenever it has erupted, whether as an expression of anger by democratic forces or an attempt by their nemeses to derail the political process. If violence and politics ever mixed well, state institutions would not have been in tatters today. The task ahead in many ways entails picking up the rags and beginning to build anew, as if from scratch. Forbearance, not coercion, should be the guiding spirit for all concerned. Of course, free and fair elections is a pre-requisite to this.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: