Just imagine the mind-set – instead of waging a war against the enemy – Coronavirus, and saving lives and livelihoods, the rulers are more focused on targeting political opponents, and are bent upon paralyzing a province, governed by its political rival PPP.
By Nazeer Ahmed Arijo
Imagine a country besieged by enemy troops, demanding those at the helm of country’s affairs, to devise foolproof security measures in order to save both citizens and the soldiers.
Exploding corona bomb is posing an existential threat to the country, its people and sources of survival – economy of the individuals and the country.
Then imagine the mind-set – instead of waging a war against the enemy and saving lives and livelihoods, the rulers are more focused on targeting political opponents, and are bent upon paralyzing a province, governed by its political rival. In order to achieve ulterior motives, the PTI-led government mulls over undoing the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which ensured provincial autonomy and gave considerable administrative and financial independence to federating units thus killing two birds with one stone: paralyzing the PPP’s provincial government and sabotaging the constitutional amendment, long disliked by those controlling levers of power behind the curtain.
Certain sections of media establishment have been tasked to tarnish the image of PPP government in Sindh, its leadership, and also cultivating an environment i.e. mobilizing public opinion that alteration in constitutional amendment in question is much needed. The case in point is the center’s long-standing desire to have political capture of Sindh destroyed.
The PTI-led government has not digested the peoples’ mandate given to PPP in Sindh hence it continues taking coercive measures to bend the provincial government to its will. Since coming into power, PTI government in conjunction with some biased TV channels, left no stone unturned to present the Sindh government as the most incompetent one.However, the CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah proved to be competent captain with regard to corona virus containment-strategy, pushing federal captain -the PM Imarn Khan – into background. Islamabad was left red-faced and as a result guns were directed against the CM and Sindh government.
Sindh government is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. What the PM, wet behind the ears, has failed to understand so far is that in both practical and political life, becoming wise or be willing to follow the wise is a time-tested tact in testing times.
Those refusing to follow this established principle are destined to doom and gloom. “Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine brighter…”-Anon.
While, other heads of governments and states, have busied themselves to protect people and finding solution to socio-economic impact of COIVID -19 with a political consensus, our present federal government is busy making all out efforts to undermine provincial autonomy and wishing to have paralyzed CM in Sindh province, governed by its political rival-PPP.
Measure the magnitude of hate in the head of the ‘head of the government’ that he has refused so far even mentioning CM Sindh’s name or giving him due credit.
Coronavirus crisis upset PTI led government’s apple cart by depriving it of its so-called blaming card. The incumbent government pulled wool over the eyes of public after having passed the buck for all crises besetting the country to corruption of previous governments. Mega corruption scandals of Sugar, flour and wheat by crony capitalists, have nullified present rulers’ tall claims of clean governance.
Surprisingly, the Sugar Inquiry Commission instead of focusing on the faces who had given the nod for the subsidies and the export of the sugar exposed the beneficiaries of the export and the subsidies given. And, faulty line of action in terms of keeping coronavirus at bay, exposed the PM who was being presented by his powerful backers as ‘political messiah armed with intelligence’ to overpower any crises. He utterly failed to grasp the gravity of COVID crises thus blundering into disaster.
A logical question that arises is: what is the reason behind federal fury directed against CM Sindh?
The answer is that Murad Ali Shah has refused to be the Usman Bozdar. Imran Khan has taken the defacto control of Punjab. PM is frustrated that Karachi cannot be remote-controlled like Lahore by Islamabad. This is the reason why the federal government has been indifferent to the CM and negligent of the needs of people in the province. Very recently, on the floor of the National Assembly, Bilawal Bhutto after having highlighted the genuine concerns of the Sindh government as well as problems faced by health professionals all over the country, offered his willingness and cooperation to work together in order to carve out common coronavirus-containment strategy and other relevant steps needed.
Despite this political generosity offered by BBZ, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi speaking from the hip, dubbed the party stanching provincial considerations. Mr. Qureshi and some other law makers from the treasury benches had displayed the same political indecency in the upper house – Senate – thus stoking political fire in the house requisitioned by the opposition parties.
The sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate were hijacked by the PTI hawks, and the debates were diverted to ‘who was feeding who?’ This mind-set calling the genuine concerns conveyed as playing the ‘provincial card’ is nothing but narrow-mindedness and political poverty. Asking relief in utility bills for the poverty-stricken people in the face of crippling economic hardships unleashed by COVID-19 was a democratic demand.
During natural disasters and calamities like the earthquakes, floods and hunger and starvation, under humanitarian considerations, logistic support and food and medical supplies, are sent to other countries facing the problems elaborate the above demand. Then why the provincial governments can’t be supported on humanitarian grounds in the face of national emergency called corona virus? Why the provincial government’s demand of financial support for healthcare system was rejected giving reasons of health department being a provincial matter?
The federal government has been consistently attempting to malign Sindh government and to get rid of PPP government and Murad Ali Shah.
While making a mountain out of a mole hill, efforts were afoot to bring down the democratically elected government of Sindh. Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail and some federal ministers are on record as having said that they enjoyed the support of 30 MPs. PTI government’s desire of political capture of Sindh was foiled as the said MPs stood their ground. Even, a confessional statement by the target killer was tampered by unknown hands in order to implicate Murad Ali Shah. Tug of war over the transfer of former IGP Kaleem Imam between the center and the provincial government tells a tale. While IGPs in other provinces were being transferred at the drop of a hat, IG Kaleem Imam was made indispensable emboldening the servant of state, defying the provincial executive. Controlling Sindh government through federal bureaucracy is both dangerous and detrimental to democratic dispensation. This ugly game of undermining the provincial government through bureaucracy dates back to PML N –Nawaz Sharif tenures.
Sindh government under stewardship of Murad Ali Shah decides matters applying the mind independently. It is this independent thought and administrative intervention, which has convinced Islamabad to scrap the very constitutional amendment empowering small provinces. The CM Sindh dares the lion in his den.
Having questioned induction of the advisor to the PM on Finance Hafeez Shaikh, and the enrolling of a member from Sindh without the consultation of the province, Murad Ali Shah called the NFC composition a contravention of the constitution. The other day, Murad Ali Shah is quoted to have conveyed his concern in no uncertain in the NCC, chaired by the PM that the province be taken into confidence before finalizing any corona virus –related policies. He also raised robust voice over center’s unwillingness to give funds for the healthcare system. GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman opposed federal government’s decision to open tourist spots to visitors, saying the federal government was not serious to tackle COVID-19 crises. He also regretted that the GB government had demanded Rs.70 million from the center to for corona virus –related expenditures, but the amount was not provided. This speaks volumes about unilateral decisions being made by the federal government and its unwillingness to financially facilitate the provinces. PTI Leader Khurrum Sher Zaman and other PTI law makers in Sindh have called upon the federal government to take the control of provincial matters in the province.
A great many people believe that the COVID pandemic is a punishment from God for our sins and immoral acts, we have committed in our day today life. I do not buy this argument. However, firmly believe that this pandemic-PTI mind-set- bent upon undermining both political process and provincial autonomy, is a punishment from gods of politics, deciding political destiny of the nation.
I foresee the NAB becoming super active against the opposition politicians and tightening the noose on uncompromising lawmakers in order to extract support needed to undo unwanted articles in the 18th Amendment, reversal of federal financial share, removal of article 6 dealing with the treason, and restoration of the draconian law 58 (2) b etc. The partiality of the anti-corruption watch dog -NAB can be imagined from the fact that sitting government’s coalition partner PML Q has accused the NAB to be engaged in political engineering – not to mention the former CJP justice Asif Saeed Khosa’s observation about thus lending support to the charges made by the opposition parties that there a is nexus between the NAB and the government.
In a recent TV talk show, the former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “He will not cave in to intimidating measures being used to garner support to undo the constitutional amendment.”
When he was asked if there were any? He minced no words having said ‘if his party supported the alterations in the amendment without parliamentary deliberations, he would distance himself from becoming part of such ugly act.’
With politicians’ skeletons in their cupboards, they succumb to dictations. Will they behave differently this time? Just wait and watch.
The writer is an educationist and a freelance contributor. He can be reached at [email protected]