Is there a silver lining?

Both Prime Minister Gilani and PML-N President Mian Nawaz addressed sizeable gatherings on the occasion of Pakistan’s 65th Independence Day anniversary on Sunday. Speaking at the Convention Hall, Islamabad, Mr Gilani seemed to be presenting before his audience a collection of his speeches, in as brief a form as one-liners, since he took charge of his office three years back; some of them referred to notable achievements of the government like the NFC award, 18th Amendment and, a recent one, the introduction of political reforms in FATA, others were a reiteration of policy statements, no doubt important and called for reaffirmation.

For instance, it was good to hear him say that Kashmir was Pakistan’s jugular vein and no one could deny the people of the state their right to self-determination. There was assertion, once again, of our stand that Pakistan would not accept any country’s hegemony, a pointed reference to the Indian penchant for overlordship in the region.On the other hand, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who spoke at Hazoori Bagh, Lahore, underlined the miserable plight of the nation under the current democratic dispensation, and made an array of tall promises, ending up with a highly confident and reassuring statement, “But I am here to change Pakistan’s destiny.” If the Prime Minister thought that democracy was the panacea for all ills, the PML-N President lamented that the present rulers of the country have badly defaced the name of democracy through their loot and plunder. Viewing dispassionately these remarks, one would agree with both of them.

Out of perhaps all the forms of government man has practised, democracy stands out as the most agreeable and acceptable because of its inbuilt mechanism of accountability, orientation to public welfare, etc. But the pity is that it has not been allowed to function in its proper form.
The question here is: If the government has failed to live up to the imperatives of democracy, has the opposition, mainly represented by PML-N, done its duty by checking its transgressions? The answer unquestionably is a big ‘No’! It was not expected of Mian Nawaz to merely confine himself to rhetoric that has resulted in nothing concrete.

His party ought to have played an active role in compelling the errant government to comply with judicial verdicts, ensure accountability of the corrupt and the inefficient, to check inflation and provide job opportunities. It could have mobilised public opinion, joined hands with other factions of the PML (in fact, welcomed them in its fold) and carried along other opposition parties to effect the desired change. Just raising alarm, warning of doomsday scenarios can only spread despair and despondency. The nation wants a proactive role from its leadership. The party either lacks vision or is secretly aligned with the PPP. Perhaps, both! – Nation