LAHORE: Panelists in the session ‘Pakistan: The Way Forward’ on the third and last day of Faiz festival were of the view that political parties should struggle to end the ‘hybrid regime’ in the country to strengthen the democratic system.
The session shed light on the current political and economic situation and problems of the country to draw a way forward. PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak, former Punjab finance minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, PPP MNA Nafisa Shah and PTI MPA Shamsa Ali were on the panel and the discussion was moderated by Mehtab Rashidi.
Ms Rashidi said the country was being governed with the same plot and story for over 70 years. There was no democracy in any political party and most of them were family franchises. “In the past, there were different manifestos of political parties but now all had the same narrative and manifesto,” she added.
She asked the panelists to suggest a way forward for the country. Mr Rabbani said the state was in crises because of a diarchy that will continue to deepen due to the weakening of democracy. “The incumbent government does not have the authority to run the country and even the past governments did not have the power to run the affairs,” he said. He said the democratic system was not allowed to strengthen consciously and all institutions were defying the constitutions.
Mentioning a meeting of the business community and civil bureaucracy with the army chief, he said if there were problems with the accountability laws, they should have been discussed in parliament and the businessmen should have met with the prime minister.
He said there were some taboo areas for civilian governments, including foreign and defence policies, in the past, but now a trichotomy of power showed that interventions had increased in every sphere. He also claimed that civilian authorities could not focus on developing a democratic structure, strengthening it and improving governance due to the interventions.
Mr Khattak said all political parties needed to bring in reforms, give way to the huge bulge of youth in the country, adopt democratic behaviour and ensure merit in their structures. The state was facing a crisis of existence and no institution accepted the constitution ever.
He further said Pakistan was currently being run under a hybrid regime and “test-tube parties” had been established to snatch the rights of the public. The public is the ultimate owner of the country and they would have to take back their authority from the dictators, otherwise PTM-type groups would spring up in every part of the country.
Ms Ghaus Pasha said the country should come out of a state of military wars because it was time for economic wars. “The entire world knew that India was violating every human rights law in held Kashmir, but no country stood with Pakistan because India had a strong economy and the world needed it, not us,” she said.
She further said the country was not following any solid economic solution, but adopting shortcuts suggested by the IMF without consultation and thinking about the benefit of the country.
Ms Shah said the country needed a new social and political contract to solve problems, and political parties must come up with solutions.
Ms Ali said that the PTI government had inherited all the problems from previous governments and it would take time to fix them. “We are working to give the right direction to economic problems of the country,” she said.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2019