Rumors are being voiced out and there’s apprehension that elections might be delayed. What is your stance on this situation?
If the intention behind holding elections is to help the country in this troubled times then it is a very positive step and political parties are taking part by negotiating acceptable terms with political entities inside and outside of the parliament.
Elections are generally held at the end of the term. However, if there is need of early elections, Federal Government in the federation and Provincial in the provinces can give the call. In this situation the opposition is entitled to assist the government in nominating a caretaker government.
At the moment all the major parties, including PML Likeminded, PML N and PTI agree that to provide a solution to our national problems there is a need for the political parties to sit together and work out a salvation plan based on mutual consensus.
If the term is prolonged for another year I foresee major friction within governmental institutions.
Now that a mutually accepted chief election commissioner has been elected, do you think elections should be carried out soon?
If we examine, the term is terminating in mid March. This means if the election is held at term end the process will prolong till May and June. There are a couple of reasons that suggest early elections as advisable for the ruling government.
Rationally speaking due to energy crisis the months of May and June are most uncomfortable due to intermittent power supply and harsh weather so that particular time is unadvisable for the ruling government or any other for that matter.
Secondly if elections are held at the end of term it will be a daunting task for President Zardari to retain the current coalition, signaling towards snappy elections as the best solution.
Thirdly deficiency of rupee is being catered to by borrowing from State Bank or commercial banks but soon there will be pressure due to balance of payment. Since payment is due to IMF in the coming year it will be the time of dollar inadequacy. Capital will start flowing outside the country as rupee will weaken and a trend towards dollarization will commence. This situation will force the government to consult IMF and given the current situation PPP cannot afford to agree to the terms that will be forwarded by IMF, at least not till elections. Considering all these technicalities I believe that early elections are the best solution to the problems of today.
Opposition played a very positive role and in a very mature manner. They did not create disruption. Considering the number of votes they had it was not possible for them to prevent the bill from being accepted so this line of action was most appropriate.
I am a great supporter of political parties joining forces to create consensus in major decisions for the country. This has been happening in the past when all groups came together for the 18th, 19th and the 20th amendment, Salala case and the resulting NATO supply line issue, but I feel that matters have proceeded a little and the time for consensus building and negotiation has passed. 2008 was the ideal time for this initiative; we could have formulated solutions for problems faced by the economy but sadly that did not happen. However, I still believe that there is no harm in giving it a try even though in my opinion the right time for this has gone. It is very much rational for the new elected government to discuss matters amongst their political entities so that at least there is internal coherence.
In your what is the pitch that can bring all parties face to face with a united conceptual mind frame?
I don’t mean to be discouraging but, in Salala case when APC was decided upon by all parties consensus, we are uninformed of the implementation status. NATO supply line has been unlatched but Drone attacks are still witnessed. Similarly there have been various APCs that did not receive due recognition and implementation. Keeping that in mind if the consensus initiative is based on implementation intention then early elections can act as strengthening agent for the country.
Source: “In Session – Dunya News – 27 July 2012”, with Javed Iqbal.