Steering Pakistan out of its crises demands an extraordinary move

Steering Pakistan out of its crises demands an extraordinary move

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The political situation in Pakistan is getting graver by the day because of the abhorrent confrontation between the 11-party ruling coalition and the opposition led by former prime minister Imran Khan.  The confrontation is also seriously affecting the national economy, pushing the country to the verge of bankruptcy. 

The gravity of the situation can be gauged from an interview of former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed who likened the present situation to the one in 1971, that had led to the dismemberment of Pakistan-- then the largest Islamic state in the world. As a result, Bangladesh emerged as a new state on the global map. 

As for the economic situation, Pakistan as the world’s only Islamic nuclear power is passing through the most difficult period of its history. To avert the evident bankruptcy, Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has also rolled up his sleeves and decided to use his personal influence to set the situation right. Recently, he phoned the US deputy secretary of state to seek America’s help in persuading the IMF to release the remaining $1 billion tranche to Islamabad. 

It was an unusual gesture by the country’s top soldier. 

On the other hand, the governing coalition and the opposition make fiery statements against each other day in and day out, ratcheting up the political temperature. Neither side realizes that by turning a blind eye to the country’s serious economic problems, they are playing with the destiny of the Islamic republic. 

The situation is extraordinary and can be grappled with extraordinary measures only. 

The army will have to go beyond its constitutional role of defending the country to bring the country back on track-- because only it can. It will have to use its influence both on government and the opposition to bring them both to the negotiating table. 

Unless the military plays this role, there is no possibility of talks between the two sides. 

Undoubtedly, the army is also in a better position to come up with an impartial opinion on the question of whether fresh elections in the prevailing situation would be helpful to the country. 

In case it honestly believes that fresh balloting is the best course, it should persuade the ruling coalition to agree to the prescription without wasting any more time. All parties should perform their respective roles (like dissolving the assemblies) for the purpose. 

The utility of the electronic voting machines, the neutrality of the chief election commissioner, and the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis are among the issues that would have to be settled immediately. 

But if the army concludes that in prevailing circumstances Pakistan cannot afford to hold fresh elections, it should persuade the PTI leadership to take back the resignations of its MNAs, return to parliament, and let the system work. 

The ruling coalition and the opposition should ‘cremate’ their egos and join hands to steer the country out of the crippling crisis. 

To ensure the constitutionality of the above-mentioned exercise and the solutions worked out as a result of the army’s mediatory role, the chief justice of Pakistan should also be taken on board. 

The ruling coalition and the opposition should shun their differences just like the PPP and the PML-N did in 2006 when Gen. Musharraf was in power. 

Ashraf Mumtaz

The decisions taken by both sides through mutual talks should be given the status of a national agenda and any party winning the next elections should be duty-bound to implement that agenda. The individual manifesto of any winning party can be delayed for some time in the larger national interest. 

The ruling coalition and the opposition should shun their differences just like the PPP and the PML-N did in 2006 when Gen. Musharraf was in power. 

Arch-rivals Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto (both living abroad at the time) had signed a charter of democracy (CoD) at a meeting in London to restore democracy in Pakistan. 

If PPP and PML-N can become allies after decades of confrontation, the PDM and PTI can also agree to bury the hatchet. Since the economy is seriously suffering, all parties will have to address it on an emergency basis. 

In the best national interest, all parties should direct their respective supporters and followers at home and abroad to bring back to Pakistan all their assets in foreign countries. Even legal assets abroad should be brought back. 

Before begging for money from other countries at the cost of national sovereignty and mortgaging Pakistan’s remaining assets, simple patriotism demands that the option should be implemented on a priority basis. 

Those who bring their money back to Pakistan should be treated as heroes. 

Pakistan will have to make a fresh beginning to navigate the country out of its crises, and individual interests will have to be sacrificed for the national interest.  

- The writer is a senior and veteran journalist with a career spanning 40 years with major national and international newspapers.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view