Fissures in Punjab

The dictum is that if Punjab is in chaos, the country will be in abject instability

May 24, 2022


Politics in Punjab is polarised to the core. Even the decorum of the house has been thrown to the wind, as legislators from both sides of the divide try to have their way. That was solely evident, and in a shocking manner, when the vote of no-confidence against Speaker Pervez Elahi was brushed aside and voted out on Sunday in the absence of the movers. Well before the house could meet to its full strength, the matter was dispensed with. Apparently, the intention was to clear the incumbent who incidentally is also aspiring for the high office of the chief minister. But what made many raise eyebrows is the dumping of procedural norms, as a similar motion on agenda against Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari was not taken up, and the hurriedly convened session was prorogued.

Prelude to the Sunday session was marred with severe administrative highhandedness, as the doors of the assembly were closed and legislators were barred entry. Though it was not clear as to who was calling the shots, the Punjab Police had to take the slur for acting devoid of law. The early morning hushing up of assembly officials was not only unfortunate but also condemnable. This comes on a weak pitch of governance as the province has been in turmoil for more than a month, and poles of power reflect a clash of titans. Governor Sarfraz Cheema has been de-notified by the Federation but he has moved the court of law; a summary to appoint a new governor sits in abeyance at the Presidency; Hamza has lost his majority in the wake of de-seating of 25 PTI MPAs who had voted for him, and the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, likewise, are under a no-trust move. With a fresh no-trust tabled against Speaker Elahi, it’s a tit-for-tat in vogue, and that too in the guise of Machiavellianism.

The dictum is that if Punjab is in chaos, the country will be in abject instability. This time around the fissures in Punjab are impacting the federal government, which is already in the doldrums as the long march on Islamabad looms large. A semblance of order is the need of the hour, and political groups must exhibit leadership. This bickering is demeaning the spirit of democracy.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2022.

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