Way Forward

The governance system in Pakistan needs a thorough overhauling to succeed. If the Armed Forces are to be kept at bay, civilian rule must become more effective and relevant.

By S.R.H. Hashmi | February 2021
(Left to Right) Maryam Safdar, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Fazl-Ur-Rehman in an anti-government rally in Quetta.

PDM's fight with the Imran Khan government tooth and nail and latter’s unleashing of his large battalion of ministers, advisors and spokespersons on the opposition, has created a intimidating atmosphere in the country. The PDM is demanding the PM's resignation and is consistently calling him ‘selected‘ beside by many other names. It is obvious that the PTI remains immune to these demands. The outcome is that there is a lack of civility between the government and the opposition and this has blocked the legislative process.

To end the deadlock, a suggestion has been made for a Grand National Dialogue between the government and the combined opposition. After continuing to resist it with persistence, Imran Khan has finally agreed to such a dialogue in the Parliament with the opposition, minus PDM head Fazlur Rahman and Maryam Safdar, since both are unelected.

Another stumbling block is the PM’s refusal to give an NRO sort of concession to the opposition party leaders. As such, there is no incentive for the opposition to engage with the government. The opposition leaders are facing many investigations against them pertaining to money laundering and other, allegedly, criminal activities on their part. The opposition politicians stay mum about the cases against them, while the PDM demands Imran Khan’s resignation as a precondition to dialogue with the establishment and not with the PTI government, which it considers irrelevant anyway. It needs to be emphasized that the PDM – Pakistan Democratic Movement – comprises two main parties – the PML(N) and the PPP. It has a fringe party – the JUI(F) – the leader of which, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, is not an elected leader anymore. His followers mainly constitute students of maderssahs (religious schools). The remaining constituents of the PDM are small-time parties who do not have the potential to influence national politics in any major way. It also seems the original might of the PDM is fizzling out and it hardly seems to be in a position to enforce its terms the way it was expected to.

On the other hand, Imran Khan’s strong aversion to corruption seems somewhat feigned, as his party seems to be cosying up to the PPP to win the numbers game in the parliament and to exploit Bundal and Buddu Islands jointly. Perhaps all this cannot ensure the PTI government’s survival because its real threat comes from within, through the triple-menace of bad governance, corruption and the PM’s stubbornness in supporting such officials who are known to have compelety failed.

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