United we fall<br>By Mr J. Iqbal (Media Office of PAT)
24 May 2002
Failure of the so-called mainstream political parties in the last decade has created a vast political vacuum. To fill this vacuum alliances come into existence as they are formulated from a varying background of parties, thus they serve a purpose to
A question worth asking is that are these alliances a new era in how elections will be fought or are they merely attempts by individual parties to increase their individual rankings. Well beginning with the ARD, it evolved from an anti-Nawaz alliance (PAI) to a pro-Nawaz alliance in its present stature. This journey alone clearly spells out the stance on Pakistani politics adopted by the current ARD leadership. The fact that the PPP and the PML (N) bitter rivals for over a decade have joined hands under the ARD further proves that the ARD is actually an alliance for the restoration of "corruption" rather than democracy. This sad reality is not hidden from any body in Pakistan particularly as the ARD is openly supporting and harbouring corrupt politicians.
The ARD's agenda is similar to most anti-government alliances in history having a one point agenda of removing the government. Notably the PAI was the only anti-government alliance which did not have this one point agenda. The ARD would be more successful if it was to formulate its policies on the basis of the best interest of Pakistan rather than personal interests.
The Musharraf's Government has created an awareness in the people of not allowing looters, plunderers and corrupt politicians back into office. This is why the ARD and its member parties have no positive future in Pakistani politics, as the people will refuse to be fooled this time round. In a true democracy the opposition is welcomed to make positive criticism as it would be beneficial to Pakistan, but this culture does not yet exist in Pakistan.
The common perception about the ARD is that its only aim is to uproot the Government in order to return the corrupt politicians back to office. Like the ARD the MMA has no real support in the masses. The member parties have veteran politicians as their life leaders who are all well-known to the Pakistani people.
It seems as though the MMA is taking tit-for-tat action against the Government in its opposition to it. Its opposition to the government does not seem to be based on a firm action plan. The MMAs official line was to oppose the referendum but its leader Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani made it clear in a TV interview that he will not oppose the referendum results and urged for unity for the betterment of Pakistan. This sounds very positive but the Maulana stressed that these are his personal views not that of the MMA, which seems ludicrous.
This confirms the fact that the pro-Taliban extremist parties such as the Jamaat-e-Islami and the JUI, are running the show in the MMA and Noorani is just in on it as long as he is declared the supreme leader of the alliance.
As far the vote power is concerned it is crystal clear to everyone that these religious parties have none, so no eyebrows will be raised by the announcement that the MMA is now an electoral alliance. Due to their anti-Pakistan, anti-West and anti-progress views the people of Pakistan have always rejected them in the past and there is no evidence of this changing in the near future. Even though the MMA is one of the three election alliances which currently exist, no one in the right frame of mind will consider it as having a slight chance of success in the October elections. None of the religious parties with in or outside the MMA have public support. The Jamaat-e-Islami might have been considered as one which would purify it self from the attributes above mentioned, but the post-September 11 scenario shows that it has kept a firm grasp on extremist views and remains an extremist party. The failure of the religious parties in the political arena gives a perception to the wider world that Islam is out of date and not capable of facing modern day issues, yet another favour we must thank the religious parties for. Now this brings us nicely to the newly formed National Alliance(NA).
As far as the launch of an alliance goes, contrary to previous alliances especially the PAI, this one lacked the normal grandeur which is associated to the launch of an alliance. This may have been linked to the formation of the alliance leadership. The most crucial factor regarding the success of an alliance is its leader. Everyone in the political spectrum was shocked by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi becoming the alliance president, bearing in mind that Farooq Leghari Chairman Millat party and Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri Chairman Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were also available for the post. Incidentally Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri is famous for his exemplary qualities when it comes to forming and running alliances. For this very reason he was the president of the PAI which was a very successful alliance until it ceased to exist after his departure. The only credential which Farooq Leghari has on his CV is that he is the former president of Pakistan. This credential does not mean much in Pakistan as totally incapable and unsuitable people has the honour of holding the top slots. Prime examples of this are Nawaz Sharif and Banazir Bhutto.
There was also news that the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) was unhappy with the lack of top positions being given to it in the NA as it considers it self as the largest party in the alliance. Well investigating this claim we realise that in the local elections PAT showed a positive presence throughout the country, establishing itself as having one of the largest vote banks in Pakistan. None of the other parties in the NA were successful nationwide in the LB polls but were successful in their local areas which they consider as their strongholds. So the ground reality is that PAT has support of the masses which is proven from the ballot box. Its support was also highlighted to the whole nation during the President's referendum campaign. Taking this into account Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri was expected to be natural choice for the NA presidential post. What also makes things worse is that the post of the General Secretary also eluded PAT which made a total mockery of the leadership hierarchy in the NA.
It seems as though the NA was formed to highlight Farooq Leghari who is making the largest gain from this alliance. As things stand, if PAT is forced to take the solo flight it will do better than the NA and any alliance which the PML (QA) may form. It was hoped that the PML (QA) would play a major role in forming a grand alliance but it seems as though there is bitter rivalry within its own ranks, especially for the top post of party president. The fact the PML (QA) has received unprecedented support from the Government is the real reason why it is considered as a major political party. This faction of the PML was only created recently and it has never contested an election, so there is no reliable evidence of its true support in the people. The classical case of 'too many chiefs and no Indians' is the problem facing the PML (QA), which its leadership is failing miserably to solve.
Although the famous saying 'together we stand and divided we fall' is good and well but in the context of the three main election alliances, major political parties will do better alone rather than joining hands. The reason being that all three have hidden agendas which they will not disclose to other member parties. The ongoing manoeuvres in the political arena may prove decisive in deciding which party or alliance will place itself in a position to win the October elections.
By Mr J. Iqbal (Media Office of PAT)