High drama

Published Jan 16, 2013 12:10am

WAS it one element of a wider conspiracy? Or just an unnecessarily hasty move? Either way, the timing of the Supreme Court order that has effectively asked for the prime minister’s arrest — coming as it did just as Dr Qadri was demanding the government’s dismissal — wasn’t simply a natural milestone in the rental power case, in which orders to investigate the accused were issued several months ago. Even if arrests were overdue, the SC would have done both the country and itself a favour by waiting a few more days — having already waited nearly a year — thereby avoiding the perception of backing Dr Qadri’s still-unclear agenda. With tens of thousands of people agitating against the administration outside parliament, the choice of yesterday afternoon to issue the order did exactly what one would expect: exponentially ratchet up the political uncertainty gripping the country.

That is partly, to give credit where it is due, because Dr Qadri has touched a very real nerve. The numbers that turned out were far lower than he continues to insist, but tens of thousands of supporters did show up in the Islamabad winter. And while they may not have been able to answer questions about the specifics of his agenda or how they would constitutionally bring down a government, they did know, and could articulate, legitimate reasons for why they are tired of the current set-up. But this government has at the most two months to go. Armed with public support, the fiery passion of a preacher and an understanding of people’s needs, Dr Qadri would do better to work constructively with the Election Commission on the electoral reforms so dear to his heart and save the theatrics for an election campaign.

And what should the government do next? Contrary to popular perception that the order against him implies criminality, the prime minister is still the head of the government, and will continue to be so even if he is taken into custody. The right thing for the ruling party to do, then, is to stay calm and start talking. It needs to talk to major coalition and opposition parties to get their consensus on the right next step for the government and the assemblies. And it needs to talk to Dr Qadri to demonstrate its willingness to hold the freest and fairest possible elections. Through all of this, all parties need to keep their eyes on the prize — preserving the system, whether through early or on-time elections. For the government, that means not accepting any unconstitutional demands. For everyone else, it means not making any.

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Comments (16) (Closed)


I. Ahmed
Jan 16, 2013 09:12am
The only problem with the editorial is the assumption that the current crop of political parties - in government and in opposition - and the continuity of democratic process can actually help in better governance. What Pakistan needs is a proper democratic system and not the continuity of democratic process. The difference between the two is that latter is more concerned with the output while the former produces the integration of the processes. Elections only are not the solution to the country's problem. Having continuity of a bad democratic process will result in worse results, but then in the country of pure everyone is more concerned about the process hoping this will bring about system change - keep putting the cart before the horse and dream on!
Fuzail Z. Ahmad
Jan 16, 2013 09:53am
I admire the boldness with which this and past several editorials have highlighted these "coincidences". I wonder why there is so much of "group think" prevailing in the institutions mentioned in this editorial. Why aren't there enough number of devil's advocates when it comes to making important decisions?
M. Asghar
Jan 16, 2013 10:46am
The Justice has to work and perform without being distracted by what is happening outside.
Iftikhar Husain
Jan 16, 2013 12:23pm
The editorial has put it nicely in the present circumstances the correct approach to talk because all want a really honest elections so the opposition must press for this as soon as possible. The corrupt must be given punishment and must not be allowed to come back in parliament.
dr vimal raina
Jan 17, 2013 03:38am
Sir the much needed revolution will come in Pakistan when there will be normal folks who come out on the streets as their felt need. There will be no leader but the distress and pain that people are going through. Till you have 'leaders' leading the 'long march', there will be no desired result. These long marches have a negative effect because the inevitable people revolution will be delayed.
Chumpa
Jan 16, 2013 04:08pm
THE SC SHOULD HAVE SHOWN CONSTRAINT RATHER THAN OPPORTUNISM!!!
Alam K
Jan 16, 2013 04:06pm
I am surprised, you omitted an important factor - what is president Zardari doing in Karachi for last 3-4 weeks while Islamabad is the focus of attention ? Every time country faces crisis, he is off to Karachi or Dubai.
madiha
Jan 16, 2013 01:23pm
it was indeed bad timing.....what was expected of sc was more maturity .....dr sahib should have also made demands for reforms at a more earlier time ...
(Dr.) B.N. Anand
Jan 16, 2013 01:10pm
Sir, someone can help me to find out whether in any other country at any time, the supreme has ordered the arrest of a constitutionally elected head of a legal government. Is this order unique in Pakistan or it keeps on happening all round the world? Thanks BNA
Abdul Waheed
Jan 16, 2013 12:47pm
Hope that this time antidemocratic forces will be frustrated and democratic rule will continue.
Shahryar Shirazi
Jan 16, 2013 11:23pm
Anand, This guy ( the PM) in his previous job as an Energy Minister stole millions of dollars in corruption. The case against him was filed in 2009 and this is the verdict of the that case. No one is above the law and thats what has happened to him. Wouldn't the great Mr.Gandhi practice the same ? And BTW, in countries where sanity prevails, such people resign on just being accused. He not only held on to his office, but got a promotion and kept on sucking the blood of the innocent. Shahryar
S. Nasir Mehdi
Jan 16, 2013 10:03pm
Tahiri should have gone for a million march against Talibans and FATA or gone to Quetta or Karachi instead of taking a right step at a wrong time. He should put he energy in convincing voters to vote for pious people.
Marina
Jan 16, 2013 06:02am
The way all the events are overlapping in a synchronised fashion, it can not be regarded as a mere coincidence. It seems to be a thoroughly calculated script.
Ijaz
Jan 16, 2013 08:02am
Dear, Don't you know all the "Coincidences" are keep in the Divine log for to happen in Pakistan. So better "Believe" it another of the same coincidence> ;)
Nousheen Zakaria
Jan 16, 2013 02:05pm
I think the newspaper’ job is to “report” incidences not to take “sides”. The article being published from “the newspaper” presents, its prejudices and biaseness. This could have very well been published as a blog entry, by an ind or multiple authors (being named)
rationalist
Jan 16, 2013 08:17am
Imagine if Pakistan comes out of this crisis unscathed! That would be death knell for the undemocratic forces. I am confident that democracy will win this time.