Despite the fact that the Red Zone dharnas have lost their punch, the political temperature remains hot as we move into the fall season. Political instability will affect the economic environment of the country negatively, adding uncertainty and will slow down the governance machinery. Losing initiative and going into reaction mode is like a ship in rough waters without a captain.
Last week in this space I had said that more than a coup, the Nawaz government should dread going back to the electorate without a solid record of achievements. Now that the prime minister (thanks to his useless foreign ministry leadership) is back from a lacklustre trip to the UN, he needs to arrest the slide or get ready to be swept away.
Mega projects and tangible schemes running over a short period to showcase achievements have been the hallmark of the Nawaz government over the years. They might not work now. One, the hot political climate will overshadow them and two, the enabling environment for that will shrink as both the national and international contributors will shy away due to political uncertainty.
You can’t wish away the elephant in the room. You would have to address the problem straight. The PTI will decide if it wants to stay in parliament or outside but you too need to help it decide sooner rather than later. Most would agree that having the PTI in parliament is better for democracy. If that is the case, then some serious efforts need to be made without wasting time and dragging feet. Everything that can be done to bring down the political temperature must be done. Without that no governance, no investment and no national reconstruction can take place.
The unity government in Kabul presents another opportunity for Pakistan to come up with a clear policy for our western borders. A national dialogue with all stakeholders and major parties needs to be carried out to make a policy that suits Pakistan — a policy that respects Afghanistan as an independent and sovereign nation, extending allout support for its stability and territorial integrity. That will pay off ensuring our own sovereignty and integrity.
It feels like the South Block has decided to freeze relations with Pakistan till the state legislative elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Reasserting the Kashmir issue at the UNGA by Pakistan and the Modi mantra of resolving issues at the bilateral level after cancelling the foreign secretary-level talks says it all.
But the main issue remains at home. Besides cooling the political temperature, improving governance should take the first priority. The prime minister had announced on the floor of the National Assembly of providing capable leadership to major national organisations. Fourteen months down the line, this remains an illusive dream. Many organisations remain headless. Many governing boards don’t have required members. Nothing is more important in the present scenario than the power of perception, which sometimes is more overpowering than the reality.
A case in point is that Pemra, the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and PTV remain the appendages of the executive, in their structure and composition. A wake-up call is in order. Sleepwalkers end up nowhere.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2014.