Offer of dialogue

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AS the Opposition is poised to go ahead with its plan of a long march on Islamabad as part of its pressure tactics to bring about a political change in the country, the Government has done well in making an offer of dialogue to the opposition on electoral reforms for future elections. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Sunday, Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry invited the Opposition to sit down and have talks on ‘big reforms’.

The offer of dialogue itself is an important development in the backdrop of heightened political tension but the subject for talks is all the more significant as the issue of making the electoral process credible and trustworthy assumed urgency after what people witnessed during elections for seats of the Senate and its top offices.

However, the Government has made the proposal a non-starter by making it conditional – the Opposition should first accept the mandate of the Government to complete five years.

No doubt, a majority of people of Pakistan firmly believe that all those getting a mandate in elections should be given free hand to run affairs of the country for five years as continued destabilization is hurting the overall process of progress and development.

All political parties including PML-N, PPP and PTI have suffered due to this vicious cycle and there is every reason to sit together, ponder over different proposals and go for legal and constitutional cover to make the electoral system foolproof.

Sanity demands no conditions should be attached to the offer of dialogue as time is running out for both sides to do something to reform the vulnerable system.

It also augurs well that one of the prominent opposition leaders, Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N, while reacting to the proposal said the Opposition would consider if a serious offer was made.

Therefore, the Government, instead of making offers through the media, should formally approach each and every political party both within and outside Parliament for holding grand dialogue on the all-important issue of electoral reforms.

But for this to happen, there must be a ceasefire from both sides as bitter public exchanges pollute the environment for talks.

The Government should also dispel the wide-held impression that it uses the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to pressurize the opposition leaders.

If a serious offer of dialogue is made, the Opposition should also consider postponing its plan for a long march as otherwise too the Corona situation demands a revision of the decision.

 

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