Five years of ‘democratic’ governments

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I often say, the natural life of political governments in Pakistan is two and half years. Both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto got chance of governing this country two times each however both of them were shown the door after two and half years mainly because of their own performance. PPP tenures normally are well known for bad governance, corruption and mismanagement. Unfortunately this tenure too could not prove different to that of previous ones.

When the PPP government came into power in 2008 it had set for itself a deadline of three years. Insiders say, PPP leaders were convinced that they would be booted out after three years by the military giving them a good excuse to go to next elections as political victims. But this time the military did not intervene mainly because of external and regional situation, and allowed them to continue with their looting spree. Resultantly the PPP led coalition was left in the lurch and disarray as it had not devised any strategy beyond three years. That is why the last two years of government proved absolute failure and a show of exquisite mismanagement and corruption. During last two years, if we could say, the government sailed like a rudderless ship.

As said before there was only one main reason that the PPP lead coalition could complete five years term – and that was the post-9/11 scenario. Other popular notions are that the military of Pakistan or for that matter the Judiciary too are to be given credit if the PPP government completed its tenure, which is not the whole truth because the military exercised restraint because of international pressure and understanding not to disrupt the incumbent ruling clique for it was following, in letter and spirit, his master’s voice – and in that case the world community that did not want any change in the status quo at least as long as it was engaged in Afghanistan.

Until recently people were leery of holding of general elections on time,   but now elections seem very much around the corner. The external and internal forces tried their best to get the elections delayed — and launching of Dr. Tahirul Qadri by these forces was perhaps the biggest and bold effort towards that end but thanks to the apex court of Pakistan that deflated the balloon of Dr. Qadri purely on logical grounds.

One may not disagree with the agenda Dr. Qadri was talking about however the timing of his arrival and the way he reached an agreement with the government was a clear manifestation of that the fact that apart from external elements some internal forces, mainly political, were on his side. All of them now stand exposed anyway.

Analysts wonder, what the PPP would have in its hands when it goes to public to seek their votes for it has not done anything worthwhile during five years. Not even a single project of public welfare was launched during these years. During the last days of its rule the government inaugurated Pakistan, Iran gas pipeline project, which ostensibly is a unique and revolutionary project but its future still hangs in a balance.

 Critics say PPP leadership played politics in the name of the project because it was aware of the fact it will not come to power again and if PML N led coalition is formed as a result of coming elections, it will be difficult for it to continue with the project mainly because of opposition from the United States and Saudi Arabia. Both of them have categorically and openly spoken against this project.

It is quite surprising that why the PPP government took it so long to inaugurate this project. As reports suggest, the project can be completed in two years if everything goes well. The tricky question here is why the PPP led coalition did not complete this project during its five years tenure?

Governance situation in other provinces was not encouraging either. Punjab slightly remained better as compared with other provinces as some mega projects such as metro bus service; roads infrastructure; bridges; schools etc were completed, though departments such as healthcare; justice did not see much improvement. The incoming governments therefore shall be faced with many a stiff challenge especially in the fields of economy and law and order. During last five years even our closest’ friends’ like the US did no direct investments in Pakistan mainly because of inclement investment climate.

From the face of it the next government appears to be a mix of many political parties as no one is likely to get absolute majority. The most viable ruling alliance may be among PML N, Imran Khan’s PTI and Jamat-e-Islami and MQM in Sindh. At the moment the PML N –PTI alliance seems a remote possibility but as it goes everything is possible in Pakistan’s politics!!