CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

March 14, 2008

Filed under: DOMESTIC — civilsocietypakistan @ 7:14 am
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DAWN

MARCH 14, 2008

EDITORIAL

Respecting the mandate

SPECULATIONS abound. The PML-N leadership has alleged that as many as 21 attempts have been made at the behest of President Musharraf to sow seeds of dissension between it and the PPP since the two main parties decided to form coalition governments at the centre and in Punjab. If true, this raises serious concerns, and not only on moral grounds, for the stability of the next government. The president and his backers, whether politicians or those in uniform, must not resort to such below-the-belt tactics because the parties concerned have been given a popular mandate by the people to work for the restoration of democratic institutions. It should be left to the election-winning parties to decide how far they are willing to commit themselves to mutual cooperation to cobble together a stable government. The president�s caveat going out to the nation via a recent interview to an American channel,

that the failure of the new parliament to work with him would have catastrophic implications for democracy in Pakistan, is as ill-advised as was his Nov 3 imposition of emergency rule, the subsequent sacking of the higher court judges and the gagging of the independent media. The message emanating from last week�s corps commanders� meeting at the GHQ, making it a point to deny that the army has distanced itself from the president, too, should be seen and judged as such. Such disparaging signals coming at a time when a wary electorate has pinned its hopes on a democratic order emerging out of the chaos of the past many years must not be supported by anyone wishing for political stability in a country mired deep in conflict today.

That said, the onus of acting responsibly towards each other is also on the parties concerned. The faux pas committed by a PML-N leader, whom the PPP president Makhdoom Amin Fahim has in turn accused of running a defamation campaign against him, should be taken stock of by the PML-N leadership. For his part, Mr Zardari should come out clean on his party�s nomination for the premiership, sooner than later, to dispel all �wired�, or otherwise, speculation. The task ahead is a daunting one, and the challenges faced by the country are multi-faceted. It is time, for instance, the coalition partners started discussing ways and means to combat terrorism, inflation, the energy crisis and other issues affecting the lives of the people before public fatigue to their political causes sets in. There is a need to understand that the people�s support alone can help the politicians stand up to any pressure brought to bear on them from extra-constitutional quarters. For this, they will have to stay relevant to public needs and sentiments, and not only to their own political agenda.

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