A breather for Government

127

IRRESPECTIVE of the conflicting claims about the number of people who attended the much-talked-about Lahore rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the very outcome of the event is a sort of breather for the Government as the opposition apparently failed to give a clear-cut deadline for its proposed long march towards Islamabad. By organizing a public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan the 11-party alliance has completed the first phase of its mass contact campaign but its leadership could not present a firm plan for the next phase as was widely anticipated.
The opposition leaders did repeat their threats of a march on the Federal Capital vaguely spoke about the schedule for the purpose as Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of the PDM, said it would be held either in January or early February. This could be due to lack of consensus among the constituent parties of the alliance on some crucial issues including resignations from assemblies or a deliberate attempt to give more time to the possibility of resolution of the political crisis through dialogue and discussions despite the fact that, at the moment, both sides are averse to the idea. It is also possible that the opposition wanted to keep the government guessing about its unity, resolve and future line of action till the last moments. Some analysts also claim that the opposition is planning to hold the rally close to dates when elections for half of the strength of the upper house are to be held as its leaders have already vowed to break the Electoral College for the purpose. There are many ifs and buts to realize this objective as, according to media reports, PPP, one of the two major parties of the alliance, is not fully on board on the issue of saying goodbye to assemblies and there are also rumours that the party is in secret contacts with the powers that be. Whatever the reason, the fact remains the indecision of the opposition offers an opportunity to the Government to make genuine contacts for initiating dialogue. Though the Government believes the opposition would not be able to bring a sizeable crowd to Islamabad but past experience tells us the number of protestors is immaterial as people witnessed a few hundreds of them effectively made the twin-cities hostage to their demands. Such a deadlock destabilizes the government, the political system and fragile economy also suffers a lot more. It is time to try to avoid such a scenario.