Political instability marred the year 2021 in the country as it began with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an alliance of 11 parties – holding anti-government rallies to oust the ruling PTI. While its first power show, held nearly two months before this year began, had managed to send jitters across the power corridors, along with the win of its joint-candidate in the Senate elections, exit of the Awami National Party (ANP) and the PPP weakened its position. The off-again on-again relationship between the PML-N and the PPP also kept political pundits at crossroads over the movement’s faith. Writing it off was too soon and holding it up was too early.
But one thing that clearly did stand out is the PML-N’s position, which despite its leaders being either in jail or exiled, managed to pull through the year and strengthen its position. Chatter of a rift between the Sharif family, leading to two clans – one under the party supremo Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and the other with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif – also died down as the rumours of a return took centre stage. The possibility of a ‘deal’ made the incumbent government visibly nervous with the premier himself saying that Shebaz’s speech at the National Assembly is more of a “job application than a speech”. He made these remarks right before entering the NA session on Thursday where the mini-budget was tabled. One may wonder what job is the PM talking about and to whom is this application being sent?
It is then fair to say that the chaos felt externally with Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban, and skirmishes between China and India, along with Iran’s sanction talks, was also felt internally. The outgoing year was a year of rallies, protests and political tensions where a sitting government refused to engage with the opposition for debate over many pressing national issues. Legislations were bulldozed, while the assembly was scarred by the quorum syndrome. It has been reported that the quorum was found incomplete a total of 39 times. But for any democracy to flourish, consensus among all stakeholders is key. Political instability will do no one favours, certainly not the citizens – whose interests political parties vow to protect. The coming year will decide if politics wins over the nation, or vice versa.