WEB DESK: Chief ministers of provinces where PML-N is not in government – Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) – representing parties that are ideologically opposed to each other in the first ever show of solidarity held a joint press conference and accused the federal government of not only stealing their share of electricity but also of not consulting provinces while planning development projects.
Load-shedding in Karachi as well as in other Sindh and KPK cities has reached alarming levels and the federal government’s argument, that it is implementing revenue-based load-shedding, has been dismissed by both the chief ministers namely Qaim Ali Shah and Pervez Khattak. In addition, their accusations that they are not being consulted while planning development projects has merit not only because the Sharif administration continues to violate the constitutional stipulation to hold Council of Common Interest meetings once every three months but, equally disturbingly, has opted to extend the 2010 National Finance Commission award beyond the five years of its applicability.
In other words, the constitutional fora available to the provinces to express their concerns to the centre are simply no longer available because of sustained violation of the constitution by the Sharif administration. This has widened the trust deficit between the centre and Sindh and KPK which is having serious negative implications on the federation – implications that may become insurmountable in times to come.
Ironically, however, such complaints, namely of not taking all the stakeholders on board and relying on a very restricted coterie of advisors, many of whom are close family members, have been voiced not only by opposition parties notably PTI and PPPP but also those members of the federal cabinet who are not part of this select few. More recently 40 to 50 backbenchers showed their anger at being consistently ignored by those federal cabinet members who have the ear of the prime minister by walking out during the Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s concluding budget speech leading to a lack of quorum.
This necessitated the Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif to reach out to the disgruntled PML-N backbenchers and promise them that their grievances would be effectively addressed upon the return of the prime minister to the country. It is also relevant to recall that prior to the release of the Panama Papers the federal cabinet too had not met for an extended period and PML-N backbenchers had simply no chance of gaining audience of the prime minister. This situation appears to have changed somewhat after the prime minister’s return to the country after an absence of around 50 days and meetings are taking place in Raiwind, where the prime minister is resident at present.
Our country’s history is replete with examples of corruption and poor governance at the centre whereby former chief executives routinely abused state power and state resources for their personal benefits, though no other head of government has been away in a foreign country for over a month and a half. It is however extremely unfortunate that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s close advisors have failed to advise him on the changing political realities in this country.
Unlike 1999, there is now a vibrant independent media in Pakistan, a third national party that has no history of governance, good or bad, corrupt or non-corrupt, and can and does hurl accusations against the PML-N leadership that stick; and there has been a marked reduction in tolerance of the West in banking assets of the rich and influential from developing countries with no questions asked.
In this scenario for the prime minister to requisition a PIA plane to pick him and his close family members and aides from London reflects a complete lack of understanding of the mood of the country. In spite of repeated claims by the prime minister’s daughter that the entire country was praying for his health the fact remains that there is considerable public anger at his refusal to have the surgery done in Pakistan given that several hospitals in Pakistan do undertake this surgery almost routinely.
Source: Business Recorder