Role of Opposition in Democratic Government

Democracy is a system of forming government that allows public expression of opinion and accommodation of divergent views. Since democracy is based on number game with eventual majority rule, the minority, as opposition, should act to check and highlight the excesses of the majority. In this sense opposition parties are the pillars of any democracy and are the voice of the people, especially the marginalized. Opposition must see to it that a sense of direction which has been lost sight of by the people at large should be restored to them by the work and creative role that the opposition play and must play to take Pakistan to further vistas of glory and achievement.The opposition should be the people's watchdog keeping the government on its toes and forcing it to follow the right democratic path. Opposition parties also play the oversight role by ensuring that the actions of government are in the best interest of the people. Role of opposition in a democracy is much more creative and crucial rather than opposition for the sake of opposition. Its main role is to expose weakness in government policies and remain a vigilant watchdog over the action and inaction of the government. The right of opposition to oppose the wrong policies of the Government is an inalienable and essential part of the democratic process. What we observe in Pakistan is that freedom, rights, liberty, equality, justice and fair play are not only abused but also misused by the coalition Government in the center but the opposition is all along silent.

In Pakistan fact is that genuine leadership has never been allowed to flourish and if there had been a few of this caliber to lead our nation, they had been very mercilessly made controversial or even removed from the scene. PML (N) leadership being opposition could not properly act as watchdog over the activities of government till now for unknown reasons and has merely played the role of "Friendly Opposition". The present government has pushed the people too much in the corner. Right from the day PPP came into power, miseries of people have been added manifold. People do not have money to purchase expensive petrol, diesel and oil. People do not have enough money to pay the exorbitant rents to landlords. People do not have food. Business community of the country is raising hue and cry to the government to take notice of the depressing situation arising from increasing mark-up rates and ever rising electricity tariff being harmful for both the trade and industry and urged the government to withdraw the same immediately as export oriented industries are already suffering badly due to unbearable costs of inputs and utilities and survival of industries is already at stake due to continuous increase in power tariff by the government on one pretext or the other. The opposition remained constantly silent within the Parliament as well as outside the Parliament. The entire nation is suffering due to the skyrocketing prices of food and utilities whereas job opportunities and sources of income have squeezed massively, and more and more burdens of taxes and price hikes has resulted to an almost total collapse of the system but opposition is nowhere to agitate for the people*to minimize these destitutions. Price hike in items of basic living necessities and essential services have triggered a chain reaction of increases in prices of everything and rubbished the essence of house-hold budget planning. As if rationing of wheat flour, sugar, power, gas, cooking oil was not enough, now petrol, diesel and kerosene prices have been further increased out of every conceivable proportions.

It is unbelievable that the Government elected by the People is working only to crush people by burdening them with unbearable hardships. Till now, It has been able to produce only sugar mafia, power mafia, cement mafia, land mafia, LPG quota mafia and now, and the foremost fuel mafia. It is surprising that, price of fuel which is one of the basic essentials of life today, is being made more and more out of reach of a common man. This clearly is not a Government for the people. Corruption rating recently announced by the Transparency International is a symptom of deep institutional weaknesses which has led to inefficient economic, social, and political outcomes resulting to reduced economic growth, retarded long-term foreign and domestic investments, enhanced inflation, depreciated national currency, reduced expenditures for education and health, misallocated talent to rent-seeking activities, pushed firms underground, distorted markets and the allocation of resources, increased income inequality and poverty, reduces tax revenue, and distorted the fundamental role of the government.

So, what would ultimately happen? Poverty will further rise; there will be more crimes, injustice and social inequality. The theory of the present Government "democracy is the best revenge" has been fully enforced upon the poor people of Pakistan by taking revenge from them and the only intention of the Government is to strip all the clothes of poor masses. The agony of the people has gone too far. In modern societies where the existence of opposition political parties has been institutionalized, they serve the purpose of being an alternative to the ruling parties by offering alternative policies. The Opposition in Pakistan has not been able to perform its main role of questioning the government of the day and holding it accountable to the public whereas the Opposition is equally responsible in upholding the best interests of the people of the country. Contrarily the opposition is in deep slumber has not brought a single motion that is relevant to the poor people, nor has it contributed immensely in public policy formulation and implementation as well as being the voice of the people. If a party is an alternative government, its leader is the Prime Minister-in waiting should have sufficient charisma to strongly agitate the public demands before the Government.

Besides, it is important for an opposition party to demonstrate its democratic credentials. Party conferences should be run democratically, and members should debate issues freely and be able to call on the party leadership to account. Opposition parties across the world, under very difficult conditions, do a lot of research and come up with alternative policies. The opposition parties on the one hand fight for the rights of the people and on the other hand offer civic education to voters on the importance of politics and voting, especially in the run-up to elections. This not only encourages the voters to vote in large numbers but to make more informed decisions. Mere "Friendly Opposition" is no opposition. The present situation gives an impression that the elite in this country whether belonging to Government or the opposition have no connection or feelings for either the poor people or their sufferings.

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