Flexibility is need of the hour

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TWO rounds of talks between the Government and the Opposition representatives on Friday on issues relating to Azadi
March ended without producing any result but it was encouraging that the two sides agreed to continue discussion, though no timeframe for the next round was given. Talks were apparently stalled on venue of the protest with the Opposition insisting on D-Chowk and the Government offering Parade Ground, instead of the D-Chowk, for the purpose.
It is now almost clear that the March would proceed ahead as scheduled irrespective of its outcome and whether or not it is able to achieve any success for the sponsors or any harm to the Government. As is understood, leader of the Government’s negotiating team – Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattack – told newsmen that resignation of the Prime Minister was off the table and on the other hand JUI(F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman said the March would take place come what may. The wiser option would be to allow unhindered access to the marchers to the Federal Capital so that there is no obstruction to the normal life at least in other parts of the country. Attempts to place barricades or blocks inter-provincial or inter-districts roads would create enormous difficulties for the common man who is already fed up because of various reasons. As for Islamabad, decency demands that there should be no intrusion in the so-called Red Zone as such activities at that sensitive place amounts to disrupting normal functioning of the Government. Red Zone houses Presidency, PM Office, Pakistan Secretariat, Supreme Court, Radio Pakistan, PTV and, of course, diplomatic missions besides scores of other important offices. Therefore, there should be no political activity of this nature in that area but the Government has little moral standing to demand that as PTI along with PAT staged the longest sit-in at D-Chowk and also intruded into the Red Zone. There are also media reports that the Government is determined to establish its writ as far as entry into Red Zone or other demands of the Opposition are concerned. Of course, the Government has the ability to do so and it knows fully well that such sit-ins cannot lead to the fall of the sitting government as we witnessed during such exercises in the past. However, it is also crystal clear that marches, sit-ins, protests and demonstrations destabilize the Government, the system and the economy is the worst sufferer. The opposition might not be able to realize its stated objectives but its course of action would not allow the Government to concentrate on real issues. Therefore, both sides should demonstrate flexibility in their attitude to ensure that there is no hard either to the system or to the economy.