Red, White and Black

Keeping Faith
26 August, 2008, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Pakistan | Tags: , , , , , ,

Last Tuesday was a happy day for most Pakistanis. They were still rejoicing in the afterglow of the resignation of a military dictator. Musharaff finally read the writing on the wall and bowed out. Last Tuesday discussing this on another forum I had written:

This is what they should do now. The judges issue is nothing but a ceremonial issue now. They will be restored..well and good. And I hope the judiciary will retain its spine and keeps these fools on their toes as well. Next on the 17th Amendment will be repealed and the parliamentary form of government will be restored in earnest. The President will be a ceremonial head again – minus 58-2b. Of course, the first real test for the coalition would be the choice of the new President. It’s an open field there.

Looks like I called it wrong. I realise now that I was hoping for the ideal situation and forgot about the relaities of Pakistani politics. I had hoped that rationality and good sense would revail. But only a week later the coalition split. Zardari reneged on his promise and said that political agreements cannot be considered to be as sacrosanct as the Quran-Hadith. Nawaz Sharif has a right to be angry with Zaradari. Does it matter now that Zardari apologised? After all his apology will be as good as his political agreements, no?

I am really angry over these developments. I am angry that Zardari has put his ego and ambition infront of naitonal interest. I am angry that he has squandered a historic opportunity to establish a national unity government where both the main parites of the country would have been able to work together to strengthen the democratic tradition and to fight the pressing issues of terrorism and economic fraility. I am angry that we may not get a similar opportunity soon. I had a long discussion on the issue with a friend today and the premise put forth was this: We should let this continue. This wrangling is what democracy is all about. We need to let this assembly complete its term and establish a precendent for democracy in Pakistan.

In other circumstances, I would have agreed. But this is not the time to let the kids learn how to grow. The time demands that they act as adults yesterday and figure out a roadmap to steer the country through these troubled times. If anything, whatever we know about Zardari and the democratic governments of the decade of the 90s does not give me hope. There is already talk of Zardari keeping 58-2b, of the PPP working to oust PML-N from Punjab, of the possibility that the national assembly will be dismissed if PML-N gets too rowdy. And of course, this would create yet another classic situation for the military to intervene.

And to think that we did not have to take this path. But old habits die hard, don’t they? Here’s to hoping that I am proved wrong. I desperately want to..but at this point keeping faith in the system is turning out to be extremely difficult.