Not for mid-term polls!

Since the PML-N has been in the forefront calling for mid-term general elections, one would have assumed that its intensified criticism, well deserved no doubt, of the ruling leadership at the federal level was directed towards that end, and that the efforts to form a grand alliance of opposition parties was the required link in that chain.

Mian Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N leader, however, when giving an exclusive interview to TheNation on Tuesday, discounted that possibility. He was thinking in terms of a popular movement or an in-house change to compel the federal government to come to the right path. Apparently, the decision on which of the two options to adopt would be taken in consultation with the other parties joining the alliance, if his party was able to sort out differences with the would-be allies and succeeds in bringing about that unity.

Both a popular movement and an in-house change have their own flaws; the former because it would disturb life, setting afoot an unpredictable and, perhaps, unpalatable chain of events, and in the conditions of today could even destabilise the country; and the latter because it would, in the ultimate analysis, result in the formation of another PPP-led government, with its Co-Chairperson as President.

Thus, perhaps, only change of a few faces operating under the same tutelage!Instead, one way open to the PML-N and other opposition parties, which are critical of the government, is to put it under constant pressure in Parliament through their elected representatives. They should highlight the evils of corruption flourishing under the patronage of the present government, its disrespect of institutions like the defiance of the judiciary and weak-kneed attitude to the defence of our sovereignty on the floor of the House.

Demanding the end of these evils, they should also obtain firm assurances that the problems of the people would be adequately attended to. Thus, they stand in much greater chance of ushering in an era of good governance in the country. And the good omen is that PML-N and MQM have decided to join hands and work for setting things right through entirely constitutional means, while sitting on opposition benches. Another course of action – merger of the various factions of the PML into one party – that had been suggested in these columns was, unfortunately, rejected by Mian Nawaz.

Despite the efforts of Pir Pagaro and the willingness of all other factions, the PML-N had been the only hurdle to putting that idea into effect. Now, alas, that opportunity has been lost, as the strains between the PML-Q and PML-N have further developed. The PML-Q, having been spurned by the PML-N, has joined hands with, and become part of, the government that Mian Nawaz and his party men are targeting. In the face of the realities of the present situation, it seems that the only course that promises a worthwhile change in the government approach to issues of national importance appears to be persistent parliamentary debate on these issues. – Nation