Editorial - Friendly no more - Sunday, February 27, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=33368&Cat=8

The careful waltz by the PPP and the PML-N that lasted months is now definitely over. The Charter of Democracy is a thing of the very distant past. It has been torn into small shreds and cast to the winds. A new order is to get underway in Punjab. The PPP has said it hopes to play the role of a vibrant opposition in the province from its new position in the assembly. It remains to be seen how this will work out in the longer run. The experiences of the past have not always been encouraging. The bitter acrimony between parties opposed to each other which marked politics in the 1980s, and most notably in Punjab during Ms Bhutto’s first tenure in power, will not be easily forgotten. It inflicted a great deal of damage on political parties and the democratic set-up as rivals attempted to pull each other down into the mire. We hope we will not be seeing a repeat of this. But it is also true that the fall-out we have just witnessed was more or less inevitable. As Mian Nawaz Sharif spelled out, the experiences of the past years made it impossible to continue with the coalition. The PPP has only itself to blame for being pushed off ministerial chairs in Punjab. But there is still a great deal that is uncertain about the future in the largest province; we do not quite know how the task of forming new alliances will work out, how ministries will be allocated and how stable the new set-up will be. For the sake of the people, we must hope the new cabinet will be an effective one – able to offer the administrative abilities that are so badly needed to put things back in order. Despite the fact that they formed a coalition government, the discord between the PPP and the PML-N, and most markedly between the late governor Salmaan Taseer, and Mian Shahbaz Sharif badly upset the balance and affected the smooth running of government. The ‘unification bloc’, essentially ideologically similar to the PML-N and in many cases comprising persons who were once its members, should be able to work well with the Shahbaz Sharif-led team.

There is reason to fear future disharmony. The PPP press conference after Mian Nawaz Sharif announced the decision to part ways was, for the most part, a fairly sedate affair. But there were hints of future fire-works. In typical fashion, Law Minister Babar Awan, spoke of responding soon to Nawaz Sharif’s assertions on the failure to implement the 10-point agenda put forward by his party. A more mature politician may have accepted there is really very little to say; that promises were indeed broken and mistakes made. The acrimony which came through from Mr Awan was unfortunate, if not entirely unexpected. We must hope though that it will not lead to new problems in the future – for what is needed now, most of all, is a sense of stability and a willingness to set affairs in the province running along a smooth track.

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