Altaf bhai...handshake and embrace is better than a fist!
In my post of yesterday titled “PPP’s Hukoomat Jaa Rahee hay – A wish more than analysis”, I had talked about a couple of “shikayaat” that MQM has related to their share in the federal government as well as the return to commissionerate system. In the last twenty four hours, I have pondered a lot especially on the matter of how legitimate the “shikayaat” of MQM are.
First and foremost, the MQM has 25 seats in the National Assembly and 51 seats in the Sindh Assembly. Even though the MQM has two federal ministers in the cabinet, it has as many as 10 slots in the provincial government. In Sindh, the PPP has a comfortable simple majority as it has 97 seats in a house on 164. The PPP can continue to have all ministers of its own and doesn’t need the MQM or for that matter ANP to be part of the coalition in Sindh. The PPP has shown magnanimity in accommodating the two minor but important stakeholders for the sake of peace in Sindh. If MQM doesn’t have the “right” share in the federal cabinet, then for sure it has a more than right share in Sindh. Above all, MQM’s ministers have numerous powers which PPP ministers do not have in Punjab. Off course, in Punjab, it’s a one man show.
Secondly, coming to the return to the commissionerate system, it is important to note that the concept of “Government at your doorstep” was introduced by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto during her last stint as prime minister. The establishment of district governments with political and elected nazims was in essence a fulfillment of that concept. Even though the local government system was introduced by Pervez Musharraf, it allowed a good representation of all political parties. It also reduced the role of bureaucracy if not fully. Problem is that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, which are governed by other parties, are demanding a return to the old system where there will be a district council with a mayor and a commissioner/deputy commissioner/senior district magistrate regime. Now how can the PPP allow to have two different systems being run in the country? We are not that mature of a democracy to have two different ways of management. On this the MQM needs to convince other provinces and not the PPP.
Reconciliation is something preferable, but there has to be a limit to bending down. MQM’s role has become extremely rigid in the last few weeks. It has made issues on RGST and now fuel prices as if there are many alternatives available to the government. It has also sided with obscurantist forces on mindless matters like Afia Siddiqui as well as not being clear on the blasphemy law amendment. The political maturity that the MQM was beginning to show has diminished substantially. MQM had earned a good name for itself for being a progressive political party, accepting secular ideals and shunning ethnicity, however, MQM has disappointed a lot of people, including the writer.