PM’s timely clarification

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AS the process of no-confidence motion has entered its decisive phase, the country is rife with rumours and speculations about what the Government and the Opposition have in their sleeves to turn the tables on the other side.

One hears claims about springing surprises within the next 24 or 48 hours and also about the ‘trump card’ Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to play on March 27 during a public meeting of the ruling party in the federal capital, which is being arranged on a massive scale to demonstrate its popularity and support base.

In this backdrop, the Prime Minister has done well by categorically stating that his ‘trump card’ has nothing to do with a key appointment in the Pakistan Army and the Minister for Information and Broadcasting has added that the promised card is political in nature.

We have all along been emphasizing in these columns that there should be no attempt on the part of anyone to drag national institutions into politics and that too at a time when the leadership of the Pakistan Army has publicly declared its commitment not to meddle into political developments.

In the backdrop of a new definition of the neutrality offered by the Prime Minister, there were wild speculations that his trump card might be concerning the appointment of a new Army Chief and such rumours gained currency when he also stated that appointments should be made on merit and not on seniority.

However, during his interaction with a group of newsmen on Friday, the Prime Minister spoke at length about relations of his Government with the Army and dropped hints that he would not say anything that amounted to portraying the national institution in a negative light.

There was also a systematic campaign in the social media and in this context the Information Minister has been quoted as saying that in a recent discussion with his political team, the Prime Minister expressed his displeasure at the campaign launched against the institution and ordered action against those responsible.

And in an apparent reference to purchase and sale of loyalties by parliamentarians, the Prime Minister was focusing on a straightforward matter of national morality and ethics.

There is no doubt that this is a loathsome practice and needs to be condemned and stemmed but it is also a reality that the language being used by politicians against each other also has much to do with morality and ethics.

By using derogatory and abusive language, we are deepening the polarization and scuttling the chances of any national reconciliation, which is the need of the hour.

We hope that both the Government and the Opposition would review their approach as use of care-free language is conveying wrong impression to the people and spoiling the mindset of the youth.

The Government also took another initiative on Friday – presentation of a constitutional amendment bill by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the Speaker National Assembly relating to the establishment of South Punjab province, which is likely to be on the agenda of the House when it meets again on Monday.

But it is not a surprise at all and instead reflects poorly on the sincerity of purpose (of the Government) as it did not make any worthwhile attempt during the last three and a half years to develop consensus on the highly controversial issue.

What the government wants to convey by tabling the bill when, apart from the Senate (where the Opposition is in majority), it has not its majority intact in the National Assembly either to get the bill passed.

Adoption of a constitutional bill requires two-thirds majority but the Government, presently, doesn’t enjoy even a simple majority in the Lower House as well.

Otherwise too, there was absolutely no justification for this uncalled for move when sufficient steps were taken by the provincial government of Punjab to address the grievances of the people of South Punjab by way of increased budgetary allocations and almost a parallel administrative set-up.

There is also a genuine surprise on the Opposition side as reports suggest the PPP has threatened not to give a call to its workers for participation in the Opposition rally ahead of vote of no-confidence and that it would nominate the second-tier leaders to symbolically participate in it.

The reconciliatory gesture of the Prime Minister towards the establishment and a major difference of opinion between PDM and the PPP are early signs that difficulties for the embattled Prime Minister have started receding.

 

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