PRIME Minister addressed the nation last week for the third time in three weeks. He was supposed to calm things down but on the contrary he opened a Pandora box for himself. He not only targeted the opposition parties but also the military and the Pakistani media. Prime Minister normally remains cool but this time his tone was somewhat aggressive. Like the previous instances he negated all the allegations against his family. He reminded the nation of how his government was toppled by the military in 1999 and despite being an elected Prime Minister he was sent to jail. He further said that nobody raised voice against his exile.
The Prime Minister asked to punish the person responsible for the 1999 military coup but the main actor of that coup, Gen Pervez Musharraf (R) went abroad a few days ago after his name was struck off the ECL. A close aide of General Musharraf, Ahmad Raza Kasuri has claimed that travel restrictions on the former military ruler were lifted as a result of a ‘deal’ struck with the PLM-N government. So there seems a contradiction here. On one side PM is asking for the punishment of military ruler but on the other hand his government has struck a deal with the same person and sent him abroad. Furthermore, why the Prime Minister is asking and appealing. Prime minister is the most powerful person in a parliamentary democracy, so why he is asking others to do this and that.
Secondly the honorable Prime Minister complained about the indifferent attitude of politicians when he was exiled. He said nobody raised voice for him and his family. He particularly target Imran khan and said that he was trying to make himself Prime Minister under Musharraf’s regime but the PM missed a few things here. Yes it is true that Pakistan Peoples Party, PTI and other opposition parties did not protest against the military coup but they also did not join hands with the rulers. On the other hand, a large number of PML-N leaders joined hands with Gen Musharraf and strengthen his government.
These days we see a lot of those faces in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet. One of Musharraf’s federal ministers is the president of PML-N in a province, another is incharge of income support scheme and several others held important portfolios in the federal and Punjab’s cabinets. But the question is why Prime Minister is complaining about opposition parties. On one hand he is complaining about the members of opposition parties but on the other hand he has given important positions to Musharraf’s cabinet member.
The Prime Minister criticised the language used by PTI leaders during the sit-in. He also referred to the recent statements of other opposition parties. But he needs to understand this is what the opposition parties do in Pakistan. We all remember what Shahbaz Sharif used to say about the then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. We also remember what PML-N leaders used to say about government during the movement for restoration of Judiciary.PM also referred to the ongoing media trial of his family. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world where media is free. It is the same media which stood firm against the military dictator. This media also played a vital role in restoration of judiciary. So sometimes media will target your opponents but at other times it will target you.
In a democratic society government is expected to be tolerant. Government officials need to calm things down. Opposition will target their weaknesses but they have to defend themselves with a cool mind. Counter attack by the government often make things worse. Therefore our government also needs to follow the same rule. Opposition parties also need to highlight the bad governance and corruption but they also need to avoid criticism for the sake of criticism. Impartiality is the base of news reporting. Media need to report news based on facts. Speculations and personal desires should not be reported as news. As for as Panama leaks are concerned, a free and impartial inquiry commission comprising of experts of this field, should be constituted as soon as possible and whatever the said commission decides, all the stake holders should accept that decision.
— The writer is a freelance columnist based in Germany.