analysis published by The News
We continue to bemoan the failure of democratic norms to take root in our governance culture. True, that the repeated extra-constitutional interventions and direct or indirect military rule have rendered democratic governance as a distant and seemingly unattainable goal. In addition, the emergence of non-state actors, sometimes more powerful than the state itself has also led to formidable and multiple centres of power. In such a milieu, achieving the sustainability of democratic process is a Herculean task. Whilst the intentions of our unelected state institutions and their overt and covert non-state partners are clear, the behaviour of the political elites is confounding.
Not unlike the past, the divisiveness of Pakistan’s political elites has entered into a decisive phase. Fissures are apparent in the post-2008 political accord that led to the unanimous election of the Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani. The first cleavage, now a recurrent pattern, has emerged in Sindh where the coalition partners — the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — are pitted against each other for political control of urban Sindh. The latest skirmish is rooted in the evolving arrangements for the local governments and who will end up controlling the third tier of government. However, there is an ethnic dimension to it as well. Karachi remains besieged by sectarian, provincial, and linguistic ghosts that apparently are alive and kicking.
The second disruption in the political compact that led to a transition towards representative rule is unfolding in the shape of a brewing discord between the ruling PPP and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). Continue reading