Political Parties: Constructive vs. Perilous tactics
January 07, 2011
The ruling coalition is in a critical situation at the Federal level. The allied parties have been gradually leaving Pakistan People’s Party’s government and joining the opposition ranks. The increasing political temperature is dangerous for Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government. Though the distrust and differences among the opposition parties seem evasive, the possibility of vote of no-confidence motion from the opposition against the Prime Minister Gilani cannot be ruled out in the National Assembly.
The review of Pakistani political system reveals that smaller political parties always play a role of pressure group within the political system of the country and enjoy political privileges and benefits. Importantly, they are always in the advantageous position. Even during the military regimes, these political forces have been part of the ruling elite. They intelligently exploit the major parties differences and cater their own agendas.
Presently, the government is struggling for its survival. Prime Minister Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is confident about his government’s survival. Even the government maintains a simple majority with the support of independent and a dissident group of Pakistan Muslim League-Q Faction, the affairs within the lower-house would remain very challenging for the government.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the second largest party in the ruling coalition, announced that it was leaving the governing alliance and sitting on opposition benches at the federal level on January 2, 2011. The differences between the PPP and MQM matured in the last week of December 2010, and thereby the MQM federal ministers tendered their resignations on December 27, 2010. President Asif Ali Zardari initiated a reconciliatory process, but has failed to appease the MQM leadership. Prior to MQM departure from the ruling coalition, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), having six members in the National Assembly, said good-by to the government.
The political alarmists have been predicting the demise of Premier Gilani government. They claim that without MQM’s 25 seats, the PPP’s coalition numbers stood at 160 seats in the 342-member national assembly, 12 short of the 172 required for a majority. Conversely, the Prime Minister and his loyalists seem confident about their support in the National Assembly. The simple mathematical calculations indicate that opposition parties have a greater number in the National Assembly and the ruling coalition has lost the support of the simple majority in the National Assembly. Hence, according to Majoritarian–Parliamentary System of Government’s customs, Prime Minister Gilani would resign, immediately. In theory it is correct, but one needs to evaluate objectively the present political parties and independent members’ position within the National Assembly.
The elected members of the National Assembly understand the difficulty of general elections. Therefore, they should do their best to complete their tenure of five years. Presently, except PML-N and a few political parties, which boycotted the 2008 general elections, have only been demanding a new general election. Apart from the demand of the general elections, PML-N seems least interested in the change of faces in the government. It has been giving an impression that it will not invoke no-confidence motion against Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government. Secondly, the divide among the opposition parties is unbridgeable. Last week, PML-N and MQM came down hard on each other’s leadership. In addition, the PML-N leadership has a strong grudge against the PML-Q leading figures. It is not ready to compromise with them. Thirdly, the second largest opposition party, PML-Q, has been divided into three factions. This fraction is obviously in the advantage of the government. The general perception persists that a group of PML-Q members would support Prime Minister Gilani. Fourthly, Maulana Fazil-ur-Rehman has an articulating big voice, but in this age of media, masses and their representatives understands his political gimmicks.
Ironically, two/three weeks back, neither Maulana Fazil-ur-Rehman nor Altaf Hussain was disturbed with the corruption, rising inflation, law and order situation, and, above all, the bad governance of the PPP-led ruling coalition. It is politically correct to say that since the formation of Prime Minister Gilani government, both MQM and JUI–Fazul-ur-Rehman were part of government’s all acts. They were enjoying a lion’s-share in the government, which was greater than their representation in the parliament. At that time, they were supporting the all acts of the government. Moreover, they are still in the PPP-led ruling coalitions in the provinces. If the PPP ministers are corrupt, a few weeks before, certainly, these parties are also dishonest. They also encouraged corruption, scandals being part of the Federal and Provincial cabinets. More precisely, they also did corruption and contributed to the malfunctioning of the present political system.
Since 2008 general elections, the leading two political parties (PPP and PML-N) have been behaving sensibly and avoiding destabilizing the present democratic system. The PML-N, the opposition party, has been cooperating with the government on the critical constitutional issues. Simultaneously, it has been trying to play its opposition’s role in the National Assembly. Interestingly, its self-restrain position and reluctance to derail the government have disturbed the smaller parties within and outside the parliament.
The review of Pakistani political system reveals that smaller political parties always play a role of pressure group within the political system of the country and enjoy political privileges and benefits. Importantly, they are always in the advantageous position. Even during the military regimes, these political forces have been part of the ruling elite. They intelligently exploit the major parties differences and cater their own agendas. For three years, the small parties’ strategy to pit PPP and PML-N against each other has failed. No doubt, the leadership of both PPP and PML-N has been severely criticizing each other, but with caution. They have been avoiding those acts, which could derail the entire political system or facilitate the non-democratic forces in the country.
The political maturity of the leading political parties has set a trend that small political pressure groups would have a limited role in the affairs of the political system. They may not be able to blackmail the major parties. If this constructive trend continues, the people of Pakistan have political stability entailing economic prosperity.
The political mature acts of the PPP and PML-N leaderships are imperative for the sustainability of the current political system.