Analysts, political parties weigh in on key issues plaguing country and possible way out of these crises

Screengrab of Geo News programme Great Debate. — Geo News
Screengrab of Geo News’ programme “Great Debate”. — Geo News

As the country gears up for the upcoming February 8 polls, which will see more than 128 million voters electing their representatives, the question that remains unanswered is whether the country will witness economic and political stability.

Geo News’ “The Great Debate”, with the representation of several stakeholders, delved into the prospects of whether there is a need for a new “charter of democracy” — and if there is — whether the political parties would be able to reach a common ground to steer the country out of the prevailing political and economic crises.

The panel comprised of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz‘s (PML-N) Musadik Malik, Pakistan Peoples Party‘s (PPP) Chaudhry Manzoor, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Salman Akram Raja, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Emir Sirajul Haq, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan‘s (MQM-P) Mustafa Kamal, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) leader Hafiz Hamdullah, Awami National Party’s (ANP) top leader Aimal Wali Khan along with Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob and renowned journalist Suhail Warraich.

During the discussion, PML-N’s Malik underscored the supremacy of the Constitution and acknowledged the violations of the provisions of the charter of democracy by both PPP and his party.

However, he noted that despite their differences, both parties didn’t allow democracy to be derailed.

Taking a jibe at PTI founder Imran Khan, the politico questioned why the former prime minister is still persistent on “not sparing” anyone.

Meanwhile, PPP’s Manzoor, on the issue of what lies ahead of the February 8 elections, warned that the polls’ legality would be damaged and the country would further face instability if the polls are not fair and transparent and if someone is “planted” by force.

Echoing the PPP leader’s views, PTI’s Raja termed fair and transparent elections as the “need of the hour”.

“Whatever policy is formulated, [it] must be discussed and must provision transparency,” he said.

Meanwhile, ANP’s Aimal also called on the stakeholders for a new social contract along with a charter of democracy that ensures that every institution operates within its Constitutional ambit and does not go beyond that.

“When you can talk to [India’s Prime Minister] Narendra Modi, [then] why can’t you sit and talk to other political parties and stakeholders?” questioned MQM-P’s Kamal while referring to the prevailing socio-political polarisation that has gripped the country.

However, JI chief Siraj ul Haq pointed out that none of the political parties in the country reflect any self-accountability and democracy within themselves.

Terming the Constitution as the charter of democracy in itself, JUI-F’s Hamdullah called on the parliament, establishment, and other stakeholders to decide whether the people would rule or would the force prevail.

Nevertheless, irrespective of what political parties might say, it is to be seen how the post-February 8 scenario plans out and how political parties react to it — whether history repeats itself i.e., allegations of rigging, or the country finally witnesses a much-needed stable political environment.

However, one thing is certain, the consensus for the implementation of a new charter of democracy is only possible if the results of the February 8 polls are not made controversial so as to allow the incoming parliament to indulge in the proactive debate regarding the way forward.

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