April 17, 2023
ISLAMABAD – Sit at a table and talk. Break bread together; break the ice. That’s all that the nation needs its key leaders to do. The steep slope that this country has been hurtling down leads only to disaster. Much damage has already been done; there may not be much time left before an all-out catastrophe becomes imminent.
Since all branches of the state are now involved in national politics and politicking, they must be reminded that all politics involves compromise. Inflexible egos have no place in a democratic political system.
In lieu of that, the government and military establishment need to realise that they have no viable path forward without the public’s buy-in and support for the wide-ranging reforms that Pakistan desperately needs for its economic survival. The judiciary needs to realise that its strength lies in the unity of the Supreme Court despite the diversity of opinions represented within it. The PTI needs to realise it cannot survive without building bridges with other stakeholders in the political system.
Individuals who are adamant about leading our institutions toward greater confrontation are doing a great disservice to the country. Those around them must reason with them politely but firmly impose upon them to take a more accommodating path.
Decision-making that affects the country’s future must be a more inclusive and participative process, not the sole prerogative of a handful of deeply flawed human beings as it has been turned into. The threats facing the country right now are far more serious than the financial and moral corruption our ‘leaders’ keep accusing each other of.
This is the time to, in the words of Thomas Paine, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”. If the present crop of our leaders finds itself unworthy, it should let others find a way out. Only a sliver of the population is privileged enough to have a Plan B that involves fleeing abroad if the country implodes. The future of the majority cannot be left to their whims.
Asif Zardari has suggested that the civilian leadership has no qualms about holding elections but insists they be held on the same day. His party is also spearheading an initiative to bring the political parties together for a dialogue. If the rapprochement process can be sped up, perhaps the PTI can be convinced on elections to be held on the same day in exchange for a similar concession from the government. This may involve moving the date for general elections forward so that parties can secure a fresh mandate from the people before the summer is out.
The dark chapter of our history written over the past year should now be shut for good. The country’s leadership must give the people of Pakistan something to look forward to.
Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2023