Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is the PML-Q an effective opposition?

by Marvi Memom
(The writer is a member of parliament from the PML-Q.
This year we have noticed that whenever we accuse the government of incompetence and corruption, we are accused of being an ineffective opposition. Perhaps it’s time we did a selfcritique to improve the quality of our opposition.
Under the current coalition scheme of federal/ provincial governments there is no party that can truly claim to be in opposition — other than the PML. We are not in the government anywhere. Balochistan doesn’t count because even if those members were elected on our ticket they joined the government and stopped following our policies. So that makes us Pakistan’s only opposition. However, are we effective? In the National Assembly attendance is often low so we can’t be a solid opposition bloc. This acts as a major hamper to any strategy and those present have their own priorities. What Pakistan needs is not just a media that keeps a check on the government but a real united opposition in and outside parliament.
We need a parliamentary party bloc that views itself as the opposition all the time, not just some of the time, and a steering committee that negotiates agenda-setting with the business advisory committee and doesn’t bow down to the government. We also need a shadow cabinet – an idea that has been discussed but not implemented due to ego issues – led by a shadow prime minister and the leader of the opposition of the party. We should have a shadow quick response team which alerts the government of incompetence and national security issues immediately, and activates shadow ministries.
We then need a basic party structure which will give backup support to the parliamentary structure described above. Firstly, a research team or subject-specific think tanks are required to provide secretariat support to the parliamentary shadow cabinet. This would not only track government hits and misses but would have a panel of experts capable of providing constructive alternatives. Secondly, a ‘road team’ is required which takes the debate on the streets — awami issues and solutions at your doorstep. If organised well this can outweigh drawing room negotiations which can be compromised.
To gauge the progress of these parallel intertwined processes what is required is a mechanism which lets the public decide whether the efforts of the opposition are satisfactory. All efforts must be effectively communicated to the public through bulletins. And their approval ratings checked through surveys and polls. This structure is simple, effective, tried and tested in mature democracies. However, in Pakistan where politics is not a disciplined science such structures are not welcomed — thus the current state of opposition. I have no doubt in my mind that if such a structure is diligently implemented the government would not get away with looting the country and being ineffective for the common man. It’s a road-parliament structure which is the only winner for Pakistan.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 26th, 2010.

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Reader Comments

Nadir El Edroos
Great use of words: “Balochistan doesn’t count”
Thank you for stating the obvious. rather than pushing these calls for reforms before the public, perhaps you should push for these measures to be adopted and implemented within your own party.
This piece seems like an attempt on the authors part to manage her public image. She is saying everything which we, as a sceptical public loves to hear, but she is not openly criticizing her own peers in her own party. Its as if she is trying to show that she is somehow distinct from her own party so that she isnt lumped in with all the Chaudhry’s.
Malik Rashid
Miss Memon
In the past couple of years, you are the only Pakistani politician who has impressed. Why a parliamentary bloc could not be formed in more than two years? Did anybody raise their voice in the parliament to make it mandatory for all political parties to elect their leaders? 18th amendment totally ignored within-party elections. Respect. Peace.
A memon from Sindh, elected MNA on reserve seat from Punjab during dictator rule, talking of road-parliament structure! Nice joke.

Andleeb Tafweez

Perplexed at how these ideas never surface when given carte blanche. Miss Marvi Memon i wish i could see eye to eye with you on your silver bullet….what we really need are not merely ideas but much pined for sincerity and honesty of our legislators.

Saalik Siddikki

Ms. Memon, I love to listen to you in talk shows and read your articles occasionally. It is a positive sign that after the fall of Musharaf and his allies of whom you have also been an active member, you are trying hard to become the megaphone of suffering masses.
But, you certainly know that neither the government nor the whole bunch of opposition has a true leader possessing vision, veracity, boldness, creativity and devotion, in their ranks and files. So, the concept of an effective opposition in the current political scenario is merely a fantasy.
We, the middle and lower middle class masses, have already paid heavily for lollipops of tempting slogans and fake promises.
Should you be sincere with the people of Pakistan, please start a debate both in the print and on electronic media as to how and where we can find a true leader who could drive this deceived and deprived nation to its destiny.
Prior to 1947, a nation was struggling for a country, then a country was in search of a nation for decades, now both dying hard to find a true leader, another Muhammad Ali Jinnah!
Allah Karim bless this land of the pure (?) and its occupants with lasting peace and prosperity and everything in between.

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