Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pakistan: Can the rulers develop consensus?

According to the results of recently held elections all the political parties enjoy the status of ruling junta. If members of some of these parties will be sitting on opposition benches in the national assembly, they will form the government at provincial levels.

Interestingly, MQM that has remained part of ruling junta has decided to sit on opposition benches at the federal as well as provincial levels. Under the emerging set up it is expected that the parties will preferably come up with policies through consensus and avoid confrontation.

The real test of their consensus is deciding fate of the drone attacks. All the parties during their election campaign were critical of these attacks and now the time has come to tell the super power ‘enough is enough’. It is expected that prime minister in waiting, Mian Nawaz Sharif may not be able to convince the United States alone but if he enjoys support of all the elected members, he can negotiate a better deal.
In the worst scenario Pakistan has the right to intercept and down any aircraft breaching its airspace. 

However, it is believed that these attacks enjoy the blessing of Government of Pakistan (GoP), which is also extending ground support. It is often alleged that Pakistan provide the necessary details for these attacks because at times undertaking such precise attacks are not possible from ground.

The classification of Taliban into good and bad and Taliban/TTP extending support to JI, JUI-F, PML-N and PTI is not likely to allow the ruling junta to continue support for drone attacks. Many questions bother Pakistanis, what is the reality of Taliban/TTP? Are they friend or foe? If they are friend why are they at war with Pakistan Army?

One of the ways to rationalize good or bad Taliban is, those who cooperate with US-led Nato forces are called good and those who consider them ‘occupier’ have been clasified bad. Though, it has been decided to withdraw Nato forces from Afghanistan, there are fears that there will never be complete withdrawal. United States will retain bases in Afghanistan, party to keep Iran under pressure and partly to get control over the goods going to Central Asian countries via Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan United States is also supporting India in maintaining its hegemony; in fact the US wants the countries located in the region to accept India as a regional power. This is aimed at keeping Pakistan under pressure. In such a scenario Mian Sahib may find granting India MFN status a difficult task. His other associates, religious parties are also not likely to support him in developing too cordial relationships with India.

To overcome energy crisis Mian Sahib is demanding Rs500 billion, which has to be mobilized through imposing new taxes and/or raising rates of existing taxes. It is feared that he may also resort to hike in electricity and gas tariff, which will not be endorsed by his opponents.

Ironically, Mian Sahib has not come up with any policy to contain rampant pilferage of electricity and gas and recovery of outstanding dues. It is necessary to remind him that hike in tariffs just can’t improve cash flow of electric and gas utilities.

Targeted killing has once again resurfaced in Karachi and the worst victim is Shia community. Ironically, some of the religious parties and banned outfits enjoy most cordial relationship with PML-N. The time has come to catch the perpetrators and give them exemplary punishment.

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