Fo­cus on Fri­day’s NA ses­sion is nat­u­ral


ALL eyes are fo­cused, nat­u­rally now on Fri­day’s ses­sion of the Na­tional As­sem­bly, and con­duct of the prime min­is­ter will prob­a­bly de­ter­mine the fu­ture course of pol­i­tics in Pak­istan.

The kind of un­cer­tainty in the coun­try is too vivid now to ig­nore. The Panama Leaks is­sue has af­fected a num­ber of other coun­tries, for the sim­ple rea­son that ac­cu­mu­lated by in­di­vid­u­als or fam­i­lies need to be laid bare to the pub­lic eye.

Else, it will al­ways be sur­rounded by con­tro­ver­sies and suf­fer from lack of con­vic­tion, which is hardly de­sir­able for a so­ci­ety or State worth the name.

For five weeks now, the coun­try has seen a cri­sis of a grim mag­ni­tude. Those dis­miss­ing it lightly are ei­ther too naïve to see rea­son, or are in­ca­pable of un­der­stand­ing of State af­fairs. Re­ports that army chief Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif, dur­ing one-onone meet­ing with the premier in Islamabad, ad­vised him to get his name cleared, re­mains un­con­firmed. But some of the em­i­nent print and elec­tronic me­dia stand by their re­spec­tive ver­sions of the sto­ries. Seen log­i­cally, some amount of truth does hint at fac­tors pe­cu­liar to Pak­istan which had tasted direct or indi­rect mil­i­tary con­trol over civil­ian set ups from time to time.

But Ra­heel is dif­fer­ent from the rest. His deeds speak louder than the words. He has tried to lend strength to demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion, which is also ev­i­dent from his re­fusal to in­ter­fere with the ac­cepted norms that elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple, alone had the right to gov­ern the State. But gover­nance also car­ries loads of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and has per force to be trans­par­ent and read­ily ac­cept­able to all and sundry.

Army, af­ter all, is part and par­cel of the Pak­istani na­tion. It has not de­scended from the skies. It would nat­u­rally feel per­turbed over in­sta­bil­ity caused by non-se­ri­ous­ness of those legally al­lowed to man­age the ad­min­is­tra­tion. Our his­tory, un­for­tu­nately, has been a vic­tim of de­lib­er­ate or un­wit­ting be­hav­iours which could only be cat­e­go­rized as ir­re­spon­si­ble, or non-se­ri­ous, to say the least.

Cor­rup­tion, al­though a world­wide phe­nom­e­non, has been. some­how of an un­de­sir­able level in Pak­istan. Kick­backs and com­mis­sions, money laun­der­ing, should not be checked ef­fec­tively, for eras­ing it com­pletely, will be well-nigh im­pos­si­ble.

Look­ing at the events of the last five weeks, it seems crys­tal clear that while the prime min­is­ter had tried to sit over an is­sue, highly sen­si­tive for him and his fam­ily. But the op­po­si­tion too in­stead of pick­ing a sen­si­ble course, went hay­wire.

Rais­ing voice against a men­ace, ca­pa­ble of af­fect­ing the very vi­tals of our State­hood, falls within the am­bit of na­tional obli­ga­tion. The op­po­si­tion par­ties, which saw strange bed-fel­lows like PTI and PPP, com­ing to­gether (even for self­ish mo­tives) trained their guns on the govern­ment, for that what was they were sup­posed to.

But the view­point that the premier and his col­leagues in the govern­ment, in­stead of smelling the rat, al­lowed the op­po­si­tion to wrest back the ini­tia­tive, too is pro­found in its place. De­layed judge­ments of­ten cause em­bar­rass­ment, which in this has proven 100 per­cent true.

How­ever now that the govern­ment, and the op­po­si­tion seem to have locked horns, each stick­ing to its guns over the terms of ref­er­ence (TOR), a res­o­lu­tion through di­a­logue alone seems to be the an­swer. The govern­ment has wasted time in an­nounc­ing its ne­go­ti­a­tion team for talks with the op­po­si­tion, which in turn, al­lowed them to har­den their po­si­tion.

Now when the prime min­is­ter comes to the na­tional as­sem­bly Fri­day, he will have to face a bar­rage of ques­tions from stal­warts like Syed Khur­sheed Shah, Im­ran Khan, Shah Mah­mood Qureshi. Luck­ily the premier has re­frained from plans of go­ing to the Se­nate, for there he must have been fac­ing a ro­bust Aitzaz Ah­san.

It is also a fact that the rul­ing party mem­bers have of­ten been non-se­ri­ous in at­tend­ing to their par­lia­men­tary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. The house has of­ten been run with­out quo­rum. The op­po­si­tion has been pro­vid­ing the needed strength of the mem­bers to en­able the two Houses to re­main in ses­sion.

It is true that par­lia­men­tary prac­tices pro­hibit duets or cross talks, for it can only be a “tamasha” then. But on a se­ri­ous mat­ter of Panama Leaks is­sue, the premier must an­swer the op­po­si­tion ques­tions. Whether he re­ally will, re­mains to be seen.

Ad­vices from de­struc­tive minds from within like that of Rana Sanaullah who an­nounced that the prime min­is­ter will not an­swer any ques­tion from the op­po­si­tion, can only vi­ti­ate the at­mos­phere fur­ther, and give a new twist and twist to an al­ready com­plex cri­sis.

The premier must ap­ply his own. Ex­ploit his cool tem­per­a­ment, which has been high mark so far, and try to carry the day for him, and his party. Pick­ing un­nec­es­sary quar­rel, or stretch­ing the cri­sis too far, is not in the in­ter­est of the govern­ment.

That is a gen­eral state­ment, but does ap­ply to this pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tion here per­fectly, and there­fore, needs to be avoided at all cost. Let us see what hap­pens com­ing Fri­day, and wait for the turn of the events to un­fold them­selves.

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