Now that the country’s convicted (any dispute?) prime minister has broken his set record and survived in his rickety chair for a longer period than any of his predecessors — none of whom have exactly been roaring successes — there is a substantial string of citizens who are making noises about getting it all over with and setting a date for elections.
Now, elections do not a democracy make, nor do they, at present in this country, per se herald in a change. But elections we have to have. Change seems impossible in the foreseeable future. What is there on the ground? The present ruling party, which has fluffed up on all counts, further miring the country, driving it deeper into the mess it has been in for more decades than we can remember. And, with it, a totally ineffective, even pathetic, opposition.
The ruling party has pushed through its constitutional amendments, which has left the prime minister (conviction set aside), bleating constantly about how the 1973 Constitution has been ‘restored’, totally ignoring the fact that he himself has been entangled by, inter alia, Article 63, a monstrous remnant of Ziaul Haq’s Eighth Amendment — the document being riddled with other remnants of that most undesirable amendment. It is riddled to the extent that it is generally uninterpretable as there can be no universal agreement on which of certain articles take preference over which in terms of contradictions.
It would seem that ‘restoring’ the original constitution, in the mind of our prime minister, means the obliteration of the contentious article 58(2)(b). Well, that was never a loss to the ruling party co-chairman doubling as head of state, as it was highly unlikely that he would contemplate chucking out his own government. But a blinkered mind is a blinkered mind, and for sure this country has lived with this one for long enough.
It is time to go. On the international front, the government has proven to be a short-sighted disaster, relying upon ‘honour’, supported fully by the equally blinkered ghairat wallahs, to guide its dealings with its main benefactor. The collapse of relations between Islamabad and Washington may well have prompted China and Russia to make comforting overtures, but their reasoning and aims should be examined and pondered upon as for sure they are not prompted by undiluted love.
Members of the government, who are at the fore in its dealings with the US have not ceased after all these unfruitful months to ‘demand’ an apology from the US for the Salala incident (into which there has never been a full and detailed enquiry). The foreign minister was at it again this past week, twittering away the old tune. She even admitted that were it all up to her, she would recommend closing the Nato supply routes “forever”. Could that happen? Is it likely to happen? Or is it as unlikely as an apology coming our way? Washington has made it pretty clear that it is unable to offer an apology to a government — some parts of it at least — that lends tacit support to those who attack US troops in Afghanistan. And election year in that land does not help.
International commentators tend, as they have done for years but maybe now with more reason, to observe Pakistan as a country that gives the impression that it is coming apart at the seams. The mobs rioting practically all over the land against our famous ‘loadshedding’ are doing little to help bring in much needed foreign investment. And the government is helping even less as it is one of the biggest debtors to the power suppliers.
So with law and order out of the window, multiple problems with which neither civilians nor the military can cope with and an electorate that like all else can be bought and sold, what hope can there be for change?
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.
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