For natural reasons, the political situation prevailing in the country is being followed by a great deal of interest from many quarters. But as has been the case with Pakistan politics for as long as most of us can remember, selfish interests, centred around the desire to attain power, override wider ones, especially the desperate need for democracy to continue uninterrupted and for an elected government to complete its tenure. This has not happened since the 1970s — and this tradition of incomplete periods in office contributes to the sense of uncertainty we encounter whenever a civilian government is in power.
Even those who bombastically describe themselves as patriots seem to have no problems in suggesting the democratic process be derailed. In a statement in Dubai, former dictator Pervez Musharraf has said his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) would be ready to contest midterm polls even at a few weeks’ notice. As is not unusual in the case of Mr Musharraf, his projections and expectations are hugely unrealistic. The APML hardly exists as any kind of entity and there is no evidence at all that people favour the return of an ex-president whose popularity ratings had slipped to rock bottom levels by the time he completed his nine years in office.
We cannot deny that the present government has not always ruled with wisdom; issues such as growing inflation have adversely affected the lives of millions. There are other problems we are all familiar with. But midterm polls could aggravate rather than ease the situation. We need to establish a tradition of stable democratic rule if we are to have any hope for the future and political parties should be pushing for this. Other than Musharraf, leaders representing all kinds of parties are looking for a similar disruption in the process; this is true even in cases where they do not say so openly. The assessment of possibilities is going on everywhere and chances are being examined. More than anything else, Pakistan needs politicians who are capable of looking beyond their own interests and at those of their country at the wider level. We must hope such individuals can be found, especially as it has been, for many years, hard to spot them.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2011.
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