October issue 2010

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 14 years ago

Is the PPP on a suicide mission? Given the gargantuan problems Pakistan faces — from grinding poverty to spiralling prices to food and power shortages to the spread of disease — post floods — this is where the government should be expending its energies.

Instead, it is engaged in a battle of nerves with the Supreme Court, which the country can ill afford at this precarious moment. Its law minister is being accused of scripting the drama that is being played out at the Lahore High Court. It involves a section of lawyers who are demanding the transfer of a Lahore district and sessions court judge and protesting against the Lahore High Court Chief Justice for failing to protect them against police high-handedness when they were demonstrating against him. (Incidentally, the black coats were pretty high-handed themselves: TV footage showed them roughing up both the police and media alike).

Earlier, the law minister was accused of flying across the length and breadth of the country doling out wads of notes to bar associations to buy their loyalties.

More often than not, the PPP appears to be its own worst enemy. It stumbles from one controversy to the next, without batting an eyelid. Recently, it was engaged in a major tussle with the Supreme Court over the appointments of “controversial” individuals who are accused of certain illegalities, and in nearly all the cases it has had to withdraw its nominees.

Among the “illegal” appointees were Adnan Khawaja, who was made managing director of ODGC, Kamran Lashari, who was appointed Sindh chief secretary, and Irfan Qadir, who was nominated as prosecutor general of NAB.

The PPP cannot afford to antagonise the courts, especially at this critical juncture when all PPP beneficiaries of the NRO, including President Asif Zardari, are fighting for their political survival. With the Supreme Court determined to have the Swiss courts reopen the President’s cases, the PPP’s future looks ominous.

Unfortunately, the PPP has done next to nothing to improve its image or standing with the public. There are allegations of corruption, misgovernance, ineptitude. And post floods, the party has taken a further battering for its snail’s-pace response in relief efforts. Further, most foreign donors, notably the US and UK, have made it amply clear that they don’t exactly trust the government. They’ve chosen their own networks or NGOs for operating in the flood-affected areas and have appointed monitoring agencies to keep track of every dollar and cent.

With a reputation like that, one would expect PPP stalwarts to mind their words and deeds. But that is not exactly the PPP’s forté. A federal defence production minister (who has now been booted out) while visiting Bugti’s son Talal in Quetta remarked, “All should have equal right to corruption.”

Was he building a case for his party or what?

The October issue of Newsline is available on newsstands now.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.