Hardening of stances

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AT a time when the country needs complete peace of mind to tackle the challenges thrown by Covid-19 and take measures to support the falling economy, there is no letup in retrogressive approach both by the Opposition and the Government that are engaged in a tit-for-tat war. There are all indications that they are heading on a course of collision posing a potent threat to the fragile democratic process and political stability and continuity.
Though the actual situation would become clear after meeting of leadership of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Lahore and scheduled rally of the Alliance at Minar-e-Pakistan but remarks made by Vice President of PML(N) Maryam Nawaz at workers’ convention in the provincial capital on Sunday clearly hinted that the Opposition was planning to raise the ante. Her comments about resigning from Assemblies and giving tough time to the Government could mean either actual implementation of the threat of resignations or holding of the proposed long march earlier than scheduled. Either of the moves will have serious implications for the Opposition itself, the Government, the democratic system and the country. It is ironic that instead of fence-mending, the Government seems to be provoking the opposition parties to resign from assemblies as is clear from reaction of senior leader of PTI and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Information Minister Shibli Faraz. The Government is, perhaps, oblivious of the reality that it would not be an easy option to go for by-elections on such a large-scale. In fact, the course of en bloc resignations would be tricky for the Opposition itself as is also confirmed by indirect apprehensions expressed by Maryam implying that not all MPs would obey the decision of resignations, if finally taken by the constituent parties of the alliance. This might lead to fragmentation and serious divisions within the parties if each and every MP was not taken on board which is a difficult proposition. There are also question marks about PPP approving the strategy when it has its full-fledged Government in Sindh and party leadership/members of the provincial assembly might find it difficult to say goodbye to three remaining constitutionally mandated years of governance. In case of consensus among opposition parties on the issue, it would be next to impossible for the Government to hold by-elections despite the fact that this would be a perfectly legal and constitutional recourse as en bloc resignations and logical total boycott of the by-elections would deprive the process of any credibility. Under these circumstances, the two sides must desist from raising the political temperature further and instead engage into a meaningful dialogue to sort out differences.

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