Sep 14, 2021 Letters
There has been much agonising by the media over the failure of our main political parties to dialogue on national matters—foremostly, the fight against COVID-19. The hurdle, of course, remains the PPP’s insistence that the Coalition must first recognise its legitimacy as the de jure government, and the Coalition’s insistence that it will not. While the case has been made that recognition is not constitutionally or otherwise (or should not be) a precondition for interparty dialogue, recognition nevertheless facilitates political stability and normalisation. These in turn detoxify the atmosphere for political consensus and compromise.
That said, the coalition’s non-recognition of the government plays right into the PPP’s hands. Sure, the PPP has been repeatedly criticised for holding interparty talks hostage to its demand for recognition. But, in its calculation, that is a much smaller price to pay compared to dealing with the political fallout from being unable or unwilling to meet the coalition’s most-likely large demands once talks ensue. The coalition’s lone voice shouting in the wilderness about government illegitimacy is far less of a political threat to the PPP than a Coalition engaged in talks, tactically making demands, and getting them unmet. The PPP knows that this latter situation presents easy opportunities for the Coalition to mobilise its supporters and raise the country’s political temperature.
So, from a standpoint of pure political strategy, the PPP is playing this right and the coalition is playing it very wrong. The more sensible approach for the coalition is to (i) recognise the government as legitimate, (ii) tie that recognition to the commencement of talks, (iii) work out its list of genuine demands and concerns to table at those talks, (iv) enter the talks in a spirit of consensus, compromise, and common good, and (v) take necessary action to ensure the PPP understands that the coalition has no interest in talks merely for political gimmickry and photo opportunities.
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