The so-called minus and plus formulas is unlikely to solve any problems. 

The present system is obviously not ideally democratic, and many of the expectations from system are yet to be fulfilled. The 17th Amendment still lingers as an ugly reminder of the Musharraf era and we are yet to implement the Charter of Democracy. 

There is also growing frustration over the law and order situation, the erratic load shedding, and a catalogue of crises both internal and external. Some might say that better governance could have resulted in more “visible” changes that democracy can bring to a common man’s life.

As a television journalist I often speak to various political leaders. A few days ago I spoke to Nawaz Sharif, and he seemed clear that those floating such conspiracies do not mean well for democracy. “I do not believe in the minus one formula” he told me. This may have surprised many political observers who expect him to take a more radical stand against Zardari. They argue that his stance is not only hurting his popularity, but also giving his party labels like “friendly opposition”. Maybe they have a point, but as a visionary leader Nawaz Sharif can see beyond this short-term view. He realizes this is not the time to play popular politics, and today Pakistan needs stability more than anything else.

Our brave armed forces are engaged in a battle against extremism and we cannot afford further political instability. In my view, Nawaz Sharif’s stance represents the sort of positive politics that Pakistan needs at this time when leaders have to look beyond their own political gain and put national interest before their own. 

However, as he continued to speak I could also sense some disappointment in his voice too, particularly when he spoke about the Charter of Democracy that he had signed with Benazir Bhutto.

The Charter of Democracy provides an ideal starting point for this journey to begin but more would have to be done to show the people that democracy can really improve the quality of their lives. It should be seen to be resolving the challenges that face them on a daily basis. We all know what these challenges are and I will not repeat them here. But I will talk about opportunities. People also expect democracy to create opportunities for better education, employment and healthcare.

A recent survey by British Council suggests that our youngsters feel despondent. Such feelings should not be allowed to simmer. Despondency must be replaced with hope. This hope can come from a culture of positive politics. The PPP and PML-N, as the two largest parties can lead the way for this positive political culture. That is the only way in which the “formula mongers” can be silenced.

Javed Malik is a television journalist and Executive Director of The World Forum. He can be reached on