PTI, which started its long march towards Islamabad on Friday, has raised the ante by hurling allegations against senior officials as part of its strategy to try to keep national institutions under pressure.
Addressing the participants of the march in Lahore, party leader Imran Khan repeated allegations levelled by his colleague Azam Swati, who accused two officials of torturing him but Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told newsmen that Swati was arrested by FIA for his highly controversial tweet targeting national institutions and that he was never handed over by FIA to any other institution.
The Minister also minced no words in declaring that the Capital’s Red Zone is the ‘red line’ and any untoward situation would be dealt with an iron hand as no one was above the law.
It is widely acknowledged that the joint presser of the DG, ISI and DG, ISPR was purely aimed at setting the record straight in the backdrop of wild allegations that are being levelled on a daily basis against national institutions.
General Nadeem Anjum appeared in public to defend his agency and the institution as he has intimate knowledge of the entire situation and the related developments and, therefore, was in a better position to clarify things in the face of sustained propaganda campaign, which he did appropriately as he volunteered only that much information that was absolutely necessary to set the record right.
No doubt, PTI is trying to keep its workers and supporters duly charged throughout the duration of the long march and has to adopt some tricks to achieve the objective but this should not be done at the cost of dignity and prestige of state institutions.
The Interior Minister has pointed out that Swati provided no medical evidence of the torture and his allegations are totally baseless, vowing to challenge these allegations legally, which is a right approach.
There are genuine apprehensions that the way the things are being handled could lead to physical confrontation, especially when the long march participants reach Islamabad.
According to reports, before starting the march, an oath was taken from the participants that they would abide by the Constitution of the country, safeguard its sovereignty and not bow before anybody except Allah Almighty.
Imran Khan also publicly stated that the participants would confine themselves to designated places and the march would remain peaceful.
However, the track record of the party is not encouraging as it is known for taking U-turns and dramatic decisions.
Similarly, it has also been interpreting the Constitution and the law in its own way and, therefore, no one can say with certainty what would eventually happen in Islamabad.
The timing of the march is also not appropriate as it is being held at a time when the country is in the midst of plans to arrange huge funds required for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the flood affected regions and families.
A joint consortium of multilateral donors including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union and United Nations Development Program has verified the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and reconciled figures of total damages and economic losses to the tune of $31.2 billion caused by severe floods.
A donors’ conference is scheduled to be held during the next few weeks as part of the efforts to arrange the required funds and any uncertainty and chaos in the country could harm this cause.
The basic demand of the PTI is early elections but it is quite obvious that the change of the Government, establishment of an interim set-up and the time the new Government would take to settle down would also put rehabilitation and reconstruction tasks on the back-burner.
It would not make much difference if elections are held a few months later at the completion of the constitutional tenure of the present assembly.
PTI has a lion’s share in the system as it has its governments in Punjab and KP besides those in GB and Azad Kashmir and, therefore, undue haste for elections at the cost of other pressing challenges of the country is not desirable.
We would urge all sides to bring an end to the blame game to create a congenial atmosphere for a meaningful dialogue process, which is the only viable option to sort out differences.