By Sami Shah
October 5, 2011
It seems the political parties consider quitting the only way of getting any work done. With the MQM currently in between its quarterly resignations, the PML-Q has decided they should enjoy the freedom of a work-free lifestyle for a few days too. The tactic itself is nothing new; in my office there was a boy who quit four times in the last two years. He considered the resignation letter an opening salvo in any negotiation. Whenever it was time for a salary increase, he would quit the job. The next day he would return with a larger pay cheque. It became quite a casual thing actually. Wanted a new desk? Quit his job. Wanted a larger fuel allowance? Tender a harshly written resignation via email. Change of pants? Write “I quit” on Facebook and then press the “like” button himself. It worked in his favour each time, until it didn’t. The fifth time he renounced his employment, the management called his bluff and replaced him with someone more stable. I heard he is quite happy in his new job at a different company, currently between his seventh and eighth resignations.
The PML-Q seems to be trying the same method of pressurising the government. Chances are their motivations aren’t any different, with an increased salary and longer paid vacations being the end goal. Of course, they can’t actually write that as reasons for quitting. They need to at least pretend to appear altruistic and noble, even if the closest any of them will ever come to those qualities is when they read them aloud in this column and then thumb through dictionaries to look up the meaning. Instead, they claim their resignations are motivated by a “failure of the government to resolve the issues of the masses”. It’s a bit of an odd criticism given that there is no particular issue highlighted. Maybe they don’t want to play favourites with issues and would rather not offend, say, dengue by picking poverty as their preferred issue. Or perhaps, for the PML-Q, the “masses” are themselves an “issue” and they want the government to get rid of them entirely. It’s all a bit confusing. To be fair though, the PML-Q probably haven’t given it much thought.
The real question is how the Zardari government will react.
Will they, à la post-MQM-resignation, unleash a political figure who will make his nervous breakdown a public performance piece? Or will they use the same tactic my office did and pretend to take it seriously before offering a designation change in place of an actual salary increase. What none of them will do, and it’s a shame, is to take any of this seriously. If the government calls the PML-Q’s bluff and accepts the resignations, offering their vacated posts to someone with the same qualifications (a horse, a small child or even a rock), then we might actually see something interesting happen. And if the PML-Q leadership is then invited on to television by all the talk show hosts who seem to be busy attacking one another while collecting national medals and yelled at until they offer workable, practical solutions to the “issues of the masses”.
That way, the next time a political party wants to see things improve in the country, they will have to enact those changes themselves through active participation in a democratic process, instead of throwing poorly worded and inarticulate resignation letters around on a monthly basis.
Now if you will excuse me, the tea my office just served me tastes terrible and I need to compose an angry email threatening instant resignation unless I get my way. Don’t worry; it’s my seventh such letter this month. I am sure this won’t backfire in any way.
Source: The Express Tribune, Lahore