Side winds?

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The advent of modern means of communications has transformed the nature of events and most dramatically it has reduced the limits of reaction time. The leisurely pace of events in the past took its own time to create its reaction but now both action and reactions have become swift and sharp. The political scenario in Pakistan was bound to be affected by the fast pace of things and it indeed has. The span of losing friends now is short and so is the time to make enemies.

It was widely discussed that the decisive elements of Pakistani polity were extensively engaged in parleying with mostly foreign elements and were supposed to be ignoring the need to enter into a dialogue with local elements. It appears that they were engaged with both internal and external factors though the internal angle was mostly shrouded in mystery. The contours of a general consensus have now started to emerge but mostly in bits and pieces.

It is quite obvious that the democratic governance is the ultimate objective of all elements engaged in governance matters. The extraordinary tilt displayed towards a certain political segment did not yield expected results, but like any other alternative, there was no guarantee of it succeeding in the first place. That point is probably reached and attempts at restructuring now appear to be taking place. There also appears to be a consensus on keeping the present parliamentary structure intact with renewing it from within.

The infighting on CPEC was the beginning of the disillusionment that was further coloured when the party in power tried to get a one-up by conceding the office of PAC to the opposition. It was getting obvious that political chicanery without necessary wherewithal to manage national affairs was going to create tremendous problems for governance. The impression created by the ruling apparatus succeeded in alienating even its die-hard supporters. It is not surprising therefore that corrective measures are initiated sooner rather than later.

The closing of ranks by the opposition appears to be the first step towards altering the larger picture. It is also a stringent ‘back-stop’ against instigators of emergency rule as it conveys the resolve that democratic means will be undertaken to sort things out in the longer run. The opposition parties displayed a maturity that only time and experience can bestow. The opposition represented all provinces and decided to unite for pursuing a moderate agenda.

Democratic governance in Pakistan has taken time to strengthen roots but it is not the only country that has faced the staunch opposition of anti-democratic forces. For a federation like Pakistan, however, democracy is the only survival kit in which all stake-holders are given adequate representation. It has proved futile to build alternative models of governance because all models have failed in the country. It is agreed that the tenets of democratic rule in Pakistan are not observed in letter and spirit but it takes time to develop democratic attitudes of tolerance and plurality.

Moreover, democratic governance has so badly been reviled in Pakistan that there is very little room left to maneuver. No one emphasises that strong dictatorship melted giving way to democracy strongly pointing to its inherent necessity. People are still kept in thrall of rapid economic progress the country had during non-democratic periods of governance conveniently neglecting that the country still is home to a hapless chunk of citizenry condemned to live below the poverty line constituting a painful one-third of the population.

Democratic governance advocated plurality and no one denies institutions of the state to perform to the best of its ability. In democracy no one suspects each other’s loyalty to the state as these are self-defeating slogans used to create disaffection and chaos. Democracy actually rewards better performing institutions and listens to their views closely. Institutions have a better chance to work in democratic atmosphere where expressing dissent adds weight to their stature. An open society has always more chances to thrive than a close one.

Pakistan is unraveling but differently and in its typical indigenous pattern. It is very healthy for the country to evolve in its own shadow and learn from its own mistakes in its own way. Pakistan is a lively place where now people are getting their right to be heard. It is too valuable a place to be handed over to self-effacing messiahs. Pakistan knows how to go ahead and it should be helped to proceed towards its destination through its own devices.

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