Politics now: Time to end the game

Politicians may be shouting accusations, but let's face it - it’s not as easy as it sounds to topple a government.

Adnan Rasool January 04, 2011
For the last couple of days I have been watching the news and repeatedly slamming my head in to the wall. It’s not that I enjoy slamming my head into a wall, but it’s just that when I see how our politicians are behaving, it makes me go nuts.

First, it was the epic name calling in front of the National Assembly. It was entertaining and very disturbing at the same time. Kind of like when the president talks about democracy, justice and Benazir Bhutto at the same time. But a lot has happened since then. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement walked away from the government and now the prime minister is all alone, probably wondering what went wrong.

MQM: For the people?

Firstly, let’s get one thing very clear. The MQM quit the government, not because they care for the people (that’s just rhetoric they keep using), but because they can see that there might be elections coming some time soon and as a general rule, in a country like Pakistan, a party that sits in the government is not going to get votes. It’s that simple.

So, the MQM moved away from the government further destabilising it and making the excuse that they did this because they feel the government is hurting the people. If they genuinely cared about about the people, they would have also moved to the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, where they are still in the government.

The fact is that it’s hard running for elections when you do not have state machinery working for you. And staying in the provincial government provides the sort of access MQM needs with regards to the state machinery required to run a successful election campaign.

In short, MQM saw that the elections are coming sometime soon so they chose to make arrangements for them, and the first step was to quit the government and claim you did for the people while maintaining a grip on the state apparatus needed to launch an election campaign.

JUI-F: Wishful thinking

Secondly, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) is a party that has only eight seats and three ministries.The 15-year-old party has been accused of only being "for sale" more than once.  In addition to that, they see a genuine chance to win back the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, given the way the Awami National Party has run the place.

PML-Q: Choices to make

In all this political mess, the only parties that have come out with a genuine bargaining power are the two Pakistan Muslim League (PML) factions, Quaid (Q) and Nawaz (N). But if you look closely, they both face demons from within.

Even though the most likely party to move to the aid of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is the PML-Q, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Having criticised the government constantly for over two years, it is very hard for them to go back on their word now. But, at the same time Moonis Elahi is being implicated in the NICL Scam by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the only way this whole issue is going to go away is if the PML-Q is willing to play ball with the government. This puts the cousins in a tough place. They can either try to save their own skin and support PPP albeit using lame conditions to do so or they can choose to look at the elections and sacrifice one of their own for popular politics.

PML-N: Under the spotlight

PML-N on the other hand, is in a crucial position. If they want, they can get rid of the government easily by calling for a no confidence motion. But, they do not want to do that, simply because they are not prepared for elections yet.

According to their calculations, it would require another six months before Pakistan is in a position where the incoming government doesn’t look like monsters to the people. This is simply because in the next six months, the government has to pass the budget, has to get an extension on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan, and also stabilise the rebuilding efforts in the flood hit areas.

Given that tall order of things to do, and also provided that none of them is going to be popular with the masses, Mian Sahab is going to think twice before trying to topple the government. In addition to that, he has to think about how his party is prepared for the elections, which currently they are not.

PPP: Time to call the bluff

Now given all of this, PPP is in a very difficult position. But at the same time, they can do what no other party has done in Pakistan for a very long period of time; call the bluff. As outlined above every single party has internal issues to deal with and even though they are talking big, it’s not as easy as it sounds, to topple a government.

PPP has the President who also is the party chairman. Now if PPP were to openly call out all opposition parties to come and do their worst, they would be calling the biggest and longest bluff of our political history. And even if the government of PPP was to fall, the next in line would be PML-N, who would be invited to form a government which they wouldn’t be able to do. That leaves the president to call for fresh elections while putting a care taker set up of his choice till then.

Now given the president is also the chairman of the PPP, he would obviously bring his people to run the show till the elections. In the mean time that unelected set up will pass the difficult measures as mentioned above without any problems as they are a caretaker government accountable to no one but the president. Also, the state machinery and resources firmly remain in the hands of PPP while the elections are being fought. So no matter what happens they come back to the parliament.

Personally I think, PPP should do this just because for once, let’s just truly see the reality of our politicians and the difference between their talk and their actions.

Media: Grow up!

Lastly, the media has honestly shown how childish and immature it really is. Their fascination with a government crumbling is creepy. Is our media insane that they are fuelling public frenzy over the government just because it improves their ratings in the process, hurting tons of projects that are going on and simply halting the process of governance, good or bad, just because it makes for good entertaining TV?

They need to seriously stop their infatuation with bad times and dirty politics and focus on raising genuine issues the people of Pakistan have. But I guess that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

All I can say is, it’s a great show they are putting on in Islamabad, but I think it’s time to end it and call everyone’s hand.
Adnan Rasool Currently the Deputy Executive Director Center for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Adnan is also a political analyst working mainly on electoral politics and political campaign management. He tweets at @adnanrasool
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Mahad Farooqi | 13 years ago | Reply Although the writer possess quite a self-proclaimed insight on the current political scenario of the country, I am appalled by his insularity, owing to which I suppose, he has erroneously accused the MQM – that their principled stance is nothing but rhetoric and they do not care for the masses of the country. The MQM came out of the coalition fold step-wise and provided enough opportunity to the PPP to make amends. Unfortunately, the PPP underestimated the former coalition partner and now has only itself to blame. One has to shed light on the fact that with 25 MNAs, the MQM remained an ally of the PPP with just two Federal Ministers as they believed that it was the need of the hour to provide an opportunity for democracy to flourish in the country. Whatever happens from here on in currently remains a speculation at best and I for one am confident that owing to the resilience of the country which has amplified manifold after facing devastating events especially the recent flood, this problem shall soon be resolved. All that is required is the will and wishful thinking on part of all the political parties of the country.
Sameer Ahmad Khan | 13 years ago | Reply Adnan Khalid Rasool your article shows your ill knowledge about MQM and Karachi, MQM won elections without Governments, 1987 election when MQM swept the polls MQM was not in Government, same as with 1988. In 1993 MQM again Swept the polls even Army was deployed in Polling Stations and an Army Operation was going on against them, third event was in 1997 when MQM was not in Government and again swept the elections even after so much killings and media propaganda against them. You don't live in Karachi, come to Karachi see how much MQM worked for Karachi so you would know how and why MQM won elections, In Last 4 years of MQM Government, under Mustafa Kamal Karachi was developed on fast pace and not a single citizen of Karachi can deny it and that development was enough to sweep polls from Karachi. you also forgot MQM victory in Gilgit Baltistan where MQM won a seat and was runners up on numerous seats.
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