Unwise positions

Published March 16, 2022

APPREHENSIONS of a violent conflict between the ruling PTI and the opposition political parties are growing after the PDM’s call for a ‘long march’ on the federal capital on Pakistan Day. In a tit-for-tat move, the PDM has revived its plan of launching a march to organise a sit-in that could continue until the day of the vote on the combined opposition’s no-confidence motion against the prime minister, which is expected to be held on March 28. “We’ll pay you back in the same coin,” PDM leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman said, reacting to the government’s apparent plans of physically stopping the lawmakers from voting on the motion.

While the wisdom of such a counter-move can be contested, the maulana’s ire is understandable, especially after the opposition had, in all probability, shelved its own plans of a march after the submission of the no-confidence resolution notice. The announcement by the PTI to hold a rally at D-Chowk on the eve of the vote is clearly meant as a threat to prevent PTI dissenters and opposition lawmakers from turning up to vote on the resolution.

The statement from Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry that anyone who wanted to vote for the no-trust motion would have to pass through a crowd of PTI supporters on their way to and from parliament betrays his party leadership’s desperation to use any tool, including the threat of violence, to defeat the motion. It is sad that the ruling party has brought a constitutional battle out of parliament and onto the streets, ignoring the potentially catastrophic consequences for the political system and economy.

Editorial: Govt should de-escalate the situation and make clear it will not obstruct no-confidence vote

PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, a key ally of the PTI, is right in advising both the government and opposition to call off their rallies. “We can’t afford this dangerous confrontation because it will add to the troubles of the inflation-stricken people,” he argued.

Indeed, both sides need to take a step back and cancel their plans, which may also interfere with the vote on the resolution or, intentionally or otherwise, keep the parliamentarians from voting according to their conscience.

However, the responsibility of bringing down political temperatures and ensuring the safety of lawmakers rests mainly with the government. The ruling PTI must also not grudge the opposition its right to deploy constitutional means to try and remove the government. Instead of fighting outside parliament, the PTI should focus more on keeping its lawmakers together and allies on its side, and participate in the process in a democratic manner.

Editorial: Govt, opposition should abstain from violence in the lead-up to no-trust vote

It is unfortunate that the PTI does not appear to be in a mood to draw back from its position, as is evident in the belligerent statements that are continuously being issued by its leaders. If something untoward happens in Islamabad due to its intransigence, it will have no one but itself to blame.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2022

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