Complacency at its worst

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said that the PPP-led government could not be toppled through rallies and creating hullabaloo. He said that elections would be held according to the prescribed schedule. “The PML-N wants to wind up democracy but the government will not let it derail it…The PPP is a symbol of the federation and its opponents are confined to only one portion of the country,” said Prime Minister Gilani. While democracy should not be derailed and the government should complete its tenure, it would not be wrong to remind the prime minister why there are so many rallies and agitations taking place all over Pakistan. Ever since the PPP came into power after the 2008 general elections, the woes of this nation have grown manifold. Granted that the government is not responsible for the global recession and its consequent impact on our country, but apart from a few notable achievements, this government has not delivered. Good governance is the essential ingredient missing from this democracy.

When the common man has to suffer hours-long load shedding every single day, cannot afford two square meals a day, has a hard time finding a job, he is bound to react. While the PML-N and PTI are trying to cash in on this reaction, the government should also introspect why things have come to this pass. The PPP government was not expected to deliver overnight since there is no magic wand to improve things in a jiffy. But that does not absolve the PPP-led coalition government of its duties either. The 18th Amendment, NFC Award, partial abolition of FCR, etc, are great achievements for the government but they are only going to deliver results in the long run. The government needed to take short term measures too so that the miseries of the people could have been addressed to some extent. In more than three years of this government’s term, we have seen no improvement in the living standards of common citizens. It is for this reason that the people are now frustrated and want change.

We can learn some lessons from Turkey in this regard. Turkey’s example shows us that an equally powerful and interventionist army’s power was rolled back because the ruling party was able to deliver to its people. In Pakistan, the exact opposite has happened. General Musharraf’s hold on power weakened considerably because of the lawyers’ movement and people’s power. The army came out looking bad and demoralised. With the PPP in power, it was expected that the imbalance in the civil-military relations would be addressed. Instead, the PPP lost support from the nation because of corruption charges and bad governance. Now the army is as powerful as ever. And it is not just the PPP-led federal government but the PML-N’s government in Punjab is no better. Both mainstream parties have failed their electorate. Their seeming indifference to the sufferings of the people and their complacency has led to a leadership vacuum and we now see some stirrings in our polity. Even if there is no leader for an anti-government movement, the people will come out on the streets themselves and hold politicians accountable. Instead of giving a bad name to democracy and politicians, our leadership should realise that such developments would only benefit the undemocratic forces lurking in the shadows. They should not be given a chance to plunder the country again. All politicians should realise their mistakes and strive to make things better for the people of this luckless country.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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