EDITORIAL: Much to the longings of the common man, whose life is becoming harder by the day because of the economic impasse which owes its existence to uncertainty generated by the ongoing muscular politics, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq has come to the fore and wants to arrange talks between the political parties on both sides of the divide.
On Saturday, he first met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and then Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, urging both of them to agree on same-day elections to both National Assembly and provincial assemblies.
Both sides reportedly agreed with his proposal and set up interlocutor committees, which will first meet a three-member committee of the Jamaat-e-Islami and given the possibility of breaking the ice will then meet bilaterally. The question how this venture play out has no easy answer; it would be hazardous to predict, but should not be considered as impossible.
Some knowledgeable sources are of the opinion that the ongoing contest for the throne has the inherent risk of the throne being lost to the non-contender, and in support of their perception they quote history.
Of course, there are quite a few teething problems. While the Imran Khan-led political coalition is agreeable to the need for a grand national dialogue its rival, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), is deeply divided. While the PPP leadership is for the dialogue the JUI(F), led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also president of the PDM, is opposed to having any contact with Imran Khan.
And even if actualization of consensus is clinched there are some stumbling blocks. One, there is the Supreme Court’s order that the polls to the Punjab Assembly be held on May 14, and there is no flexibility as it is mandatory under the Constitution.
Only by amending the Constitution can this date be shifted, and for that amendment it is necessary that the PTI members of the National Assembly should return to the house and thus complete the numbers for a constitutional amendment.
But they cannot because Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is not willing to review their resignations unless the court asks for that. Will that happen? It is a probability, but only if the PTI forfeits its much-touted claim for the Punjab Assembly elections within 90 days of its dissolution.
There is another question: if a two-week delay is acceptable, as is presently the case, then why not for two months or more? Also, according to the Supreme Court, the State Bank of Pakistan must provide Rs 21 billion as expenditure for May 14 election to the Election Commission of Pakistan latest by April 17.
But the central bank after allocating the requisite amount passed the buck to the federal government, which then sent it to the Standing Committee of Finance of the National Assembly that passed the buck to National Assembly as a money bill.
When will that sum of money reach? It’s something for the parliament to decide. But that doesn’t mean the task JI emir Sirajul Haq set for himself is over. The imperative to obtain favourable conditions for a grand national dialogue and peaceful coexistence of all stakeholders still exists as well.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023