Over a month-long political stir created by political cousins has lost its punch but as the prime minister travels to New York later this week to attend the UN General Assembly, unanswered questions still haunt Pakistanis.
The military deck has been reshuffled, including the key appointment of the DG ISI. Parliament stands firmly behind the prime minister. Regardless of the fact as to who did what in pushing the agenda of the Azadi and Inquilab marches of the Qadri-Imran combo, it is quite clear that they havenít succeeded in mass agitation involving the working poor, both rural and urban.
Yes, the movement launched by the PTI and the PAT has hurt the economy but failed in removing the Nawaz regime. Now Imran Khan seems to be moving even his part-time dharnas to other cities, trying to prove that he is not out of steam. Worst of all, Mr Khan has aggravated his relations with the entire political class of Pakistan. So resignation or no resignation, he has hurt the chances of the PTI to work with other political forces within or without Parliament. Thanks to Mr Khan and his style of politics, the PTI today stands as the most friendless party of Pakistan.
Yes, Qadri and Imran have lost this round, but Nawaz has NOT won. The
The PML-N came to power a year ago to implement its manifesto. It they canít implement their agenda, they will simply be sitting there to look cute. That would be a kiss of death and much worse than a coup.
Economic recovery, governance reforms, better relations with neighbours, especially India and Afghanistan, are some of the major issues that the Nawaz government needs to score major points before going back to the electorate.
The challenges within and without Parliament might be Herculean but if the Nawaz government learns from the current jolt, it can do it. Bipartisan support for democracy helped the Nawaz government sustain the pressure mounted by coup seekers. Therein lies the answer.
Before embarking on the tasks it needs to achieve, it needs to close its ranks with major political forces to create a national consensus about what it wants to achieve. Inclusive pluralism is the buzz word here.
The PML-N needs to do serious soul searching on its governance style. No matter how talented his family members are, Nawaz Sharif needs to come out of his family and clan. Governance through a small kitchen cabinet of favourite bureaucrats and yes-men advisers will not help. Nawaz Sharif needs to mingle with politicians and MPs more than he has in the first 14 months of his rule. He needs to follow through the precedent set by Yousuf Raza Gilani who despite adversity attended both houses of Parliament more regularly. Nawazís track record in this endeavour is very poor, prior to the current crisis.
But the heart and soul of democracy lies in its deliverance to the wretched of the earth. They still sympathise with the democratic model but donít have the sense of ownership. That will only develop when democracy delivers to them. Much more than mega projects are needed to develop that sense of ownership. Once owned by the masses, no power on earth can defeat democracy.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2014.