The lead story out of Pakistan today is that the MQM has left the PPP-led coalition in the National Assembly. One has to wonder why a party trying to negotiate with others makes such a splash in the headlines. After all, is this not natural in politics across the world? Coalition governments have existed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, Germany, even next door in India, to name a few.
The concept of a coalition government allows differing parties to come together and form consensus-based policy – an absolute must in Pakistani legislation. With such a system, change is inevitable as members come and go while the overall determination to best govern the country remains the same. That is precisely what we have in Pakistan today.
The MQM has changed its seating in the National Assembly hall. They will now be sitting a few rows back (and a quite a few more to the right). They are not, however, rearranging the seats on the Titanic. The Pakistani government is not going to collapse, and the country will not disappear into thin air. As Pakistan’s emerging democracy evolves into a stronger version of itself, it will go through similar growing pains.
We have never done this before – we have never come so close to an elected government finishing out its term. That being said, we will certainly have debates on never before held topics, such as our governing process and necessary adjustments thereof.
On another note, while the MQM is entitled to its right to leave the PPP-led coalition, one wonders if this is the politically smart move. The MQM and the main opposition party, PML-N, have a tense relationship, to put it mildly. Chairman Altaf Hussain lashed out at the PML-N Chairman Nawaz Sharif in what appears to be a “tit-for-tat response.”
The MQM should ask itself if the frustration it feels under the PPP coalition truly warrants leaving for opposition benches (and that too, with an unlikely friend in the PML-N).
Only time will tell if the MQM’s strategy pays off – or if this move proves to be a blunder that effectively sidelines the party from greater participation in government.
In the meantime, it is imperative that Pakistan’s democratic institutions be given the support they deserve, and allowed to continue doing their duties. We really should stop the hysterics!