Editorial : Politicians at war - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/15/politicians-at-war.html

THE gloves are off once again. On Sunday, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly launched a searing public attack on the ruling party, sparked by reports that the president was trying to reappoint the NAB chairman after the Supreme Court ordered his dismissal. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is hardly known for his restraint. But his aggressive rant was particularly counter-productive, coming at a politically sensitive time and including everything from personal attacks on the president to threats that the PML-N would not let parliament operate smoothly. Although there was a specific grievance that provoked this outburst, Mr Nisar could have addressed the issue in a more sensible manner. Meanwhile, the ruling party`s firebrand was not far behind. The federal law minister, Babar Awan, promptly followed with his own unnecessary tirade, raising ghosts from the political history of Mr Nisar and the PML-N.
One issue raised by the two politicians is, however, a legitimate one, although they both succeeded in worsening it. Mr Nisar pointed out that the PPP`s response to the SC ruling was not just to call a strike — in itself an inappropriate response to a judicial decision — but to call it only in Sindh, hence giving the issue a provincial colour. But his references to the president adopting ajraks and Sindhi caps in times of crisis were entirely unnecessary. Mr Awan followed with more of the same. In a federation that is threatened by provincial identities that compete instead of coexist, and at a time when the PPP has been made to leave the Punjab government, the irresponsibility of these divisive statements was remarkable.
Sunday`s outbursts only added fuel to speculations of a doomsday scenario in which the tenure of the government is under threat once again. Meanwhile, the ruling party is reportedly busy wooing the PML-Q as a new coalition partner to buttress itself against the MQM`s repeated threats of leaving the alliance. The PPP has been thrown out of the ruling coalition in Punjab, a faction of the PML-Q has broken off to join the PML-N in the province, and the provincial assembly has already descended into chaos in protest. In sum, the number one priority for the ruling elite currently seems to be power politics, not the economy, security, education or any of the other aspects of governance that need serious attention. It is high time for opposition parties to realise that letting the government complete its tenure is in their own long-term interest, and for the ruling party to focus on the governance this country so badly needs.

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