‘Need-of-the-hour’ alliance - Hussain H Zaidi - Sunday, May 01, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=44573&Cat=9

“The stage is set for another marriage of convenience in Pakistani politics--this time between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Q faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.”

“Yes, the alliance is on the cards and we should welcome it with open arms, because it’s the need of the hour. You know, the country is facing clear and present dangers on the political and economic fronts. No single political party can steer the ship of state out of these dangers on its own. Rather, we need a national government, to grapple with such challenges as shaping up the economy, shoring up political stability, toning up democracy, shaking up governance and putting down militancy. The PPP-PML-Q alliance will go a long way in achieving these national objectives.”

“These perceived benefits aside, isn’t it surprising that the two parties should join hands at all? I mean, they’ll make for strange bedfellows. The PPP is reputably an anti-establishment party, whereas the Q-League was hatched by and brought up in the lap of the establishment. The PPP has to its credit a saga of brave resistance against despots, while the Q-League has had the dubious distinction of being a ‘king’s party.’ And let’s not forget when PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, her spouse had pointed the finger at the Q-League and dubbed it ‘Qatil League.’ “

“Well, the PPP and the PML-Q do differ at this point or that, and that’s why they’re two parties and not one. Yes, the PML-Q did start off as the child of the establishment, but in course of time it has come of age. Now it’s very much part of the political system and is as strongly wedded to democracy as any other party. As for the allegation that the top party leadership masterminded Ms Bhutto’s murder, it was just an emotional reaction, and understandably so, to an extremely tragic situation. I suppose a subsequent probe into the incident has cast off the suspicion and now the PML-Q is in the clear. At any rate, in politics one has to move forward rather than look back, one has to see what the future offers rather than remain a prisoner of the past, grab the opportunities that lie ahead rather than cry over the sunk cost.”

“You’ve put it nicely, but rumours abound that the PPP held out a bagful of carrots to the Q-League to win it over so that, for a start, the PPP could get the upcoming budget through the National Assembly.”

“Such rumours are totally baseless, mouthed by those very elements who don’t want democracy to take root. The PPP has no use for either carrots or sticks. It looks down upon browbeating, bribing and other such tactics. The party professes and practises neat and clean politics and regards power as a sacred trust. Its governments, past and present, bear testimony to the high moral ground that the party holds. I therefore feel sorry, but not surprised, to see that the PPP’s moral credibility is under question. Of course, when the PML-Q makes a coalition with the PPP, it’ll get some ministerial slots, which should be seen rather as the PPP sharing responsibilities, not doling out rewards. In fact, true to its philosophy of universal reconciliation, the PPP government keeps open house for all political forces which are willing to take up the cudgels on behalf of the people of Pakistan.”

“I can say a lot against the so-called philosophy of reconciliation, but I prefer to withhold my comments at present. What I suspect now is that the PPP, in keeping with its track record, mayn’t be able to keep its word with its new ally and resultantly the marriage of convenience would break down.”

“I guess you’re hinting at the PPP’s alliance with the PML-N. Yes, the alliance fell apart, but it wouldn’t be fair to lay the blame at the door of the PPP. In point of fact, the party leadership honoured whatever commitments it had made with Mr Nawaz Sharif. The PML-N wanted reinstatement of the members of the superior judiciary; the PPP did so. The PML-N was keen to have Gen Pervez Musharraf booted out; the PPP forced him to step down. Mr Sharif wanted revival of the 1973 Constitution, including removal of restrictions on holding the office of the prime minister more than twice; president Zardari obliged even at the cost of having his own wings clipped. Take my word for it: only if Mr Sharif were a bit more patient and flexible and a little less demanding, the alliance would still be intact. So if anyone is responsible for the PPP/PML-N parting of ways, it’s Mr Sharif, who’s given to jumping the gun. I trust the PML-Q leadership wouldn’t follow in the shoes of the Sharifs. Already, the PPP has an alliance with the Awami National Party, which is going great guns.”

“Yes, but how’ll you defend Mr Zardari’s remark that political promises were merely words of mortals, and not divine injunctions, and therefore promises can be broken if need be?”

“I think Mr Zardari’s remarks have grossly been misunderstood. What he meant was that in politics things should be done in their own good time and that a politician didn’t become guilty of turning back on his word merely because he was playing for time. At all events, as I just said, Mr Zardari has been as good as his word.”

“One last question before I take your leave: Isn’t the PPP/PML-Q alliance calculated to knocking the Sharif brothers out?”

“Not in the slightest. It aims only at serving the people, which is what democracy is all about. Of course, the PPP’s doors are open for the Sharifs as well. But if they opt to stay out, it’s their own decision and they must bear the consequences. If you make your bed, you must lie in it. Mustn’t you?”

“Thanks. I hope the new alliance will have a long and fruitful life and usher in a golden era for the country.”

The writer is a freelance contributor based in Islamabad.

Email: hussainhzaidi@gmail.com

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