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Terrorists Getting Control Of Pakistan, But...

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Terrorists have carried out yet another suicide attack in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border killing several people. The whole agency is in the grip of terror and fear after the suicide attack carried out by terrorists. Women and childern were seen running for the cover after the suicide attack near Khar, the headquarters of Bajaur Agency.

The terrorists had also launched an attack in Swat a day before killing more than 50 people. The situation is very critical, but the politicians seem too busy to notice. The poor people are being killed or maimed, but the rulers have no concern for them as they have their own games to play. They want to oust President Pervez Musharraf. Is the removal of Musharraf's a soultion to the problems being faced by Pakistanis and tribesmen?

According to Daily Times editorial: after meeting the MMA leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI, the PPP co-chairman Mr Asif Ali Zardari has said that “the nation would soon hear the good news about the formation of a national consensus government”. Admitted that the idea of a “national government” has been referred to in the past, but this time it seems invested with a new meaning. The verbal construct of “coalition government” was familiar in the context of a hung parliament: the winners get together and leave the losing government out. But a “government of national consensus” has not been formed before because it means a government put together with the help of all the parties present in the legislature which is unheard of.

The “national government” idea was undermined by the early resolve of the winning PPP that it would get together with all except the losing “qatil” Muslim League-Q. Thus the idea of a “coalition” with the PMLN gained currency and the “national government” idea seemed to fade away in the face of a new euphoric determination to bury the various unsavoury hatchets of the past. Why did the idea of coalition begin to fade away also? Because the two big parties with a joint majority in the National Assembly could not see their way to agreeing clearly on the restoration of the judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf. All other outstanding issues are ancillary. And the restoration of the judges is crucially related to the removal of the president.

When the trio of parties supposed to form the coalition at the centre faced the press on Wednesday, Mr Nawaz Sharif was clear on the restoration of the judges. Mr Asif Ali Zardari however was not so clear. This provoked the third partner Mr Asfandyar Wali of the ANP to remark wryly: “Maslihat (reconciliation) is one thing, but if maslihat is baigharati (dishonour), it is not acceptable”. For an honour-based society that was a clinching phrase and everyone present clapped, not caring that the remark went against the PPP which sees slightly differently on the issue of the judges. Old hatreds are surging back as coalition politics appears to fade.

In Pakistan political parties are family affairs whose patriarchs have been either killed or brutalised by one or the other party. (Bhutto and Chaudhry Zahur Elahi were killed; Mian Sharif and Wali Khan were not treated so well.) Old hatreds cut across ideological similarities. Not even a liberal army general could hide his inculcated hatred of the liberal PPP to Jemima Khan. If the secular ANP is closer in its thinking to the PPP it has preferred to cohabit in the past with the legacy of General Zia. Down in Sindh, the MQM has moved closer to the PPP worldview, but when the PPP delegation of “reconciliation” visited the MQM headquarters in Karachi on Thursday they were all wearing the Sindhi cap, setting them apart from the muhajir “trespasser”. The body language on TV was abysmal too.

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Somehow the parties hide behind an assumption of vendetta among the voting population, but the truth is that they don’t want to forget the past and row together when the ship of the state is in stormy waters. One has to say that the idea of the “national government” is at best a kind of insurance taken against the hard line posture struck by the PMLN. It means what it means: getting all the parties represented in the new government. And that includes the PMLQ, the “qatil” party. Once that is conceded, the PPP with its 87 seats can create a majority in the house with all the parties including the PMLQ (39), the MQM (19), the ANP (9), and the independents (27).

Even if Mr Nawaz Sharif of the PMLN says he has no intention of removing his party’s support to the PPP coalition “from the outside”, it is much better to be armed with a majority to forestall a mid-term elections triggered by the PPP’s inability to concede a restoration of the deposed chief justice. One can calculate forever the comparative instabilities of the two systems: coalition versus national government. The difference with the “national government” will be that a majority in the National Assembly will not insist on restoring the chief justice. Yet all this is a legitimate game of the politics of government formation. If the PMLN has the leverage of the lawyers’ movement, the civil society and the APDM with it, the PPP will require the clout of the National Government to nudge the PMLN to pay heed to its party interests.

To the vast honour-based semi-tribal hinterland of the country, the politics on the eve of the convening of the National Assembly looks like a display of dishonourable pursuit of narrow aims. But the reality is that it is much better to set up a government that lasts than to erect something on the basis of false altruism which doesn’t.

The End

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is also (more...)

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