No rocket science was involved here. Two leaders of the nation spoke on March 22nd (Tuesday) charting out future strategy. President Asif Ali Zardari addressed joint session of the parliament and opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan reacted in a crowded press conference—an annual ritual in Pakistan’s parliamentary politics. The events were shown as major actions on Pakistan’s electronic media the whole day. The day and henceforth the oratories, in its significance, are equivalent to the US State of the Union address in which the President of the United States lays down future policy before the Congress every year.
Anchorpersons of electronic media of Pakistan covered the oratories of Pakistani style State of the Union address the way it suited them. Some of them misled the audience while analyzing it. Others tried to give a chance to analysts to interpret the speeches for their audiences. The likes of Kamran Khan, considering themselves as authorities on national and international politics, didn’t bother to involve others in the debate. Their coverage of the speeches also seemed perfunctory. The editorials published in newspapers dealt with it a bit thoroughly.
However, the oratories of the president and the opposition leader speak for themselves, howsoever the anchors may interpret them for the common people a majority of whom finds it hard to decipher political messages they receive day in day out.
A reading of the highlights of the two speeches gives one enough clues to mark who sounded shallow on Pakistan’s style State of the Union event. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Opposition Leader in Pakistan National assembly, responded in these words:
“People die in our country and are jobless.”
“We don’t know the president was talking of which Pakistan.”
“We don’t accept any responsibilities regarding Raymond Davis.”
“A high level judiciary commission should investigate Raymond Davis case.”
“Those involved in the release of Mr. Davis should admit their deeds.”
“PML (N) will play the role of an active opposition.”
“The country cannot afford another game of the establishment.”
“The president didn’t utter a single word on important issues of the country.”
“The government is not eligible to complete its term.”;
“Government’s treatment of the opposition is shameful.”;
“You cannot solve problems with mere speeches.”
“Today, it’s not possible to have another Kargil and then we are held responsible for it.”
“Establishment should take wise steps.”
“Now it’s not a problem of a party, it’s a problem of the whole country.”
“Not a single word on corruption, inflation and loadshedding in the president speech.”
“Court decisions are humiliated.”
President Zardari in his speech said:
“Pakistan will not permit the use of its soil for terrorist activities against any other country.”
“We will fight against militancy till the last militant is there.”
“We will defeat those who preach hate and extremism.”
“We will not permit anyone to usurp the powers that rightly belong to parliament.”
We believe that all state organs should work within their parameters as laid down in the constitution.” “Let us strive to keep our egos aside. Let political forces stop challenging each other merely for political point scoring.”
“The restoration of the 1973 constitution showed that political forces could do if they rose above politicking.”
“Tributes to the security forces and citizens who had been killed in fighting militancy.”
“Condemn the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti.”—(Both Senate and National Assembly have not adopted resolutions condemning the high profile assassinations) “A UN inquiry---on BB completed and a challan submitted in the trial court—those involved in her killing would not escape punishment.”
“Full spectrum dialogue process had been resumed with India and Pakistan wants its just settlement in accordance with UN resolutions.”
It shows that the government and the opposition are at cross purposes on every issue that the country is facing. The crisis that Pakistan is passing through needs collective wisdom, not divisive politics. It needs political maturity, not political point-scoring. Opposition does not mean to disagree with everything that the government does or plans to do. Instead of muck-raking, the government and the opposition need to put their heads together and give the common man the hope of a better tomorrow. This is what the people of Pakistan need in these trying times.