Currently, the country is facing a political, economic, and diplomatic challenge. A new election is over now. Whatever the results, it is now time to turn a new leaf. It is time to rise above hostility and self-centeredness to heal old wounds. Politicians need to stop creating wounds in the psyche of the citizens.
Differences of opinion and party divides are a natural spectacle in a democratic political system. The main aim is to gain power. Each party has its vision and mission to take the country ahead. It is not possible to bring to light that vision unless one has a share in power. Moreover, elections are the only legitimate way to implement that vision and mission.
Countries under the modern democratic state system have followed various prescriptions to reduce internal divisions, but in most cases, the divisions have not decreased. On the contrary, they have increased. The reason behind this is possibly that the people behind these dividing walls are not ideological but bound together by communal ties.
Pakistan is also a politically divided society. This divide is not ideological at all. The people on either side of the divide often cross over to the other side. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s foe. Living in this divided territory are the left and the right, the religious and the secular, conservatives and liberals, etc. The people are in a race to share power. If state power were a pizza, the center of the division is who will get a bigger share of the pizza.
As no single party has been able to secure a simple majority in the elections held on February 8, the idea of a national government is not bad. Understanding among the major political parties with distinct bases of support is essential. Every political party must demonstrate flexibility. As a priority, they should think of the country’s prosperity and public well-being.
Those who are involved in the enactment and implementation of laws and policies have taken practical measures to resolve these problems. Certain stakeholders in the political landscape are never willing to make the slightest compromise. They are known as the conservatives.
Outside of that, there are those who we know as rationalists. This group is eager to resolve the crisis and believes that it is not possible to reach any solution unless concessions are made so that the interests of either side are upheld. In other words, there is no alternative but to come to become considerate.
There is only one way out of this crisis and that is for the two opposing sides to hold dialogue. Moreover, it is the responsibility of politicians to extend their hand to this end. There should also be significant initiative at a citizens’ level aimed at ensuring that persons at opposite poles respect each other. Programs aimed at bringing persons of divergent views, face to face are necessary.
This country belongs to everyone, not to one party. If the country proceeds down the right path, everyone stands to gain. If it goes down the wrong path, everyone stands to lose. The red and the blue must shake hands to overcome the internal crisis. We are just a single and undivided country. That is as true now as it was in the past.
The first step towards curing any disease is to acknowledge that there is a disease. We can take lessons from past mistakes and advance. We can take that as the first step in acknowledging that a malady afflicts us.
Practical steps are essential to resolve the political polarization. This calls for discourse and understanding. Not only professional politicians but also civil society can play a meaningful role in this discourse.