The PDM, an alliance of ten political parties, ostensibly is striving for a regime change – advancing the reason that the PTI government is a product of rigged elections.
I think few would give credence to their claim as the real motive for their movement. It is quite obvious that their real agenda is to put pressure on the government to abandon the process of accountability against the stalwarts of PPP and PML-N who are accused of mega corruption and involvement in money laundering.
The alliance has gone through the motion of holding public rallies but has failed to build the momentum that is required to cause jitters in the ranks of the ruling party. Their inability to evolve a consensus strategy with regard to the sequence in which their stipulated actions to dislodge the government would be unfurled have also contributed to taking the wind out of their sails. What transpired in the PDM huddle on March 16 has also exposed fissures among the major political entities which many political observers fear may further weaken the chances of the PDM to mount a formidable challenge against the government.
As a consequence of the rift between nine parties of the alliance and the PPP on the issue of resignations, the long march schedule for March 26 has also been called off for now and in all probability it would be difficult for the alliance parties to bring the PPP around to their point of view of immediate resignations followed by the long march. Maulana Fazalur Reham and the PML-N leadership are not happy with what Zardari said in his virtual address to the PDM meeting. Some intellectual circles and political analysts are of the view that the spanner thrown in the works by Zardari could well prove to be the beginning of the end. Perhaps Prime Minister Imran Khan is right in saying that he never faced a challenge from the opposition parties.
A study of the political history of Pakistan, particularly the phenomenon of regime change, reveals that agitation by political opponents sans the support of state institutions has never led to the fall of the sitting government.
Since the establishment is standing neutral in the present political confrontation and the other traditional actors are also not on board, my considered opinion also is that the PDM stands no chance of orchestrating the downfall of the PTI government. Their efforts to create political instability in the country, however, are harming the national interests. During the last two and half years, the opposition parties have done nothing other than creating fracas in assembly sessions and hampering the process of legislation for which they are elected to the august house.
In this way, they are also betraying the trust of their voters who sent them to parliament to resolve their problems and not to engage in undemocratic activities to foment political instability in the country. They must remember that if they fail to realize the futility of their action, they might also have to face similar situations when they have the chance to win the franchise of the people. And the vicious circle of regime change through undemocratic means would continue to the detriment of the people and the state. Therefore, they need to prove their democratic credentials through observance of democratic norms and by showing respect to the mandate of the people. That is what is meant by giving respect to the vote.
The parties forming the PDM are better advised to use parliament and other constitutional bodies to have their grievances addressed if any and remain focused on their prescribed role in the legislative body. In a democratic polity, the ruling party and the opposition are two sides of the same coin supposed to strive for promoting the well-being of the people, notwithstanding differences of opinion on the confronting issues.
The opposition has the right to give a tough time to the government in parliament through debate on national issues and also educating the people about their point of view, recognizing that the people are the ultimate arbiters in deciding who rules the country. Now only two years are left in the mandatory period of the PTI government, and it has the right to complete its tenure. Let the people be the judge of its performance.
The country needs a break from the tradition of removing sitting governments through undemocratic means. That is absolutely imperative for strengthening democracy and state institutions which is a must to realize and consolidate the gains of independence. Crass politics is indeed pushing us away from the vision of the Quaid. This is a moment of serious introspection for all of us, more so by the political leadership of the country.
The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org