The CoD rewarded the political parties more than they could have expected without this landmark agreement: the PPP gained majority in two lower provinces and the Centre, the PML-N swept Punjab, the largest province, clean. Despite brief periods of confrontation, the parties always remained willing to work together for the cause of democracy. There were times when the PML-N was willing to leave the federal cabinet, sacrifice its government in Punjab and determined to lay siege to Islamabad for the sake of a free and independent judiciary. There are times when it has instigated the media and the court on memogate; it has got Gilani disqualified due to his conviction in a contempt case.
There has always been the risk that the ‘mode of confrontation’ which the PPP and PML-N have entered into time and again should prolong and transform into a state of rivalry. After all, politics is more than a chess game. It is not played in a closed environment where the ‘external factors’ can’t take sides. The ill-wishers of democracy should have wanted the return of the 1990s. It must be their utmost effort right now as well. It is possible that the ‘extra-ordinarily external’ elements may make either of the player believe, of course secretly and privately, that it can beat the other. But the problem is that neither the PPP nor the PML-N can survive without each other. The kind of understanding their leadership has developed is difficult to be established with the new players for understandable reasons: it takes time to be friends.
Of course there are signs that the PPP and PML-N have not gone too far away from each other. The proposal of the new prime minister, of course Raja Pervez Ashraf, to have consultation on the matter of appointing the Chief Election Commissioner has been received well by the ‘opposition’. It is the first major sign of amity from the camps of the Sharifs, after it sued the government for ‘memogate’ and ‘presidential immunity’.
The information minister, who has narrowly escaped the slot of premiership recently, has complained, and he is not wrong, that the PML-N had agreed through the Charter to have ‘another’ Court but is now not willing to fulfill its promise. Of course, the two parties have done a lot for this country, the most important one being the political stability that has helped the army to get on the extremists and the judiciary, find its proper place under the sun. But the PML-N should also see beyond elections when the PPP has suffered a lot at the hands of the hyper-active judiciary.
Now, if some lacuna has been identified that can prove harmful for political stability, it must be essentially corrected — the Supreme Court has to be unburdened of the constitutional petitions so as to ‘enable’ it to serve the common people efficiently. There is no reason the PML-N should not understand the utility of the proposal regarding the Constitutional Court.
As for Chess, it is the other name of deception. Its principles and rules may inspire the political players to make gains in the political arena. But remember, there is no question of absolute gains and absolute losses here. The most rewarding principle is compromise — you may call it a ‘draw’.