Country on edge

Published March 21, 2023

THE country is tearing itself apart. With politics being conducted with unprecedented venom and vitriol, there is constant danger that someone, somewhere, will make a grave mistake. Even a momentary lapse of judgement could trigger a series of events that could cause irrevocable damage to the country.

Yet, as the political climate grows increasingly febrile, the federal government, the caretaker set-up in Punjab as well as the PTI leadership continue to show a dangerous and disturbing lack of responsibility in their conduct.

As the parties currently in power, the greater burden lies with the PML-N and the caretaker government in Punjab. They ought to be demonstrating restraint, yet, both either continue to provoke the PTI’s already paranoid leadership or repeatedly go overboard in the exercise of their authority.

The Lahore and Islamabad administrations’ actions last week suggest that PTI vs PML-N is no longer being viewed simply as politics, but as an all-out turf war. What do they want? Do they really think that unleashing the state’s force on what, at least at the moment, appears to be the most popular political party in the country is a way out of the mess they have steered the country towards? At this critical juncture, does Pakistan really need another crop of young men and women internalising that violence is the language of conversing with the state? Have they weighed what the long-term consequences of these terribly shortsighted policies will be for themselves?

Likewise, has former prime minister Imran Khan completely lost his grip on reality? Can he not see that the hysteria he is projecting regarding the perceived threats to his life — threats that he sees in almost every corner these days — is driving his well-wishers and supporters into dangerous and volatile confrontations with law enforcers who may be simply doing their job? Does he realise that, whether he intends it or not, his actions are causing his party to take on the characteristics of a mob? What kind of self-centred leadership is it that would imperil the lives of young men and women in meaningless stand-offs with the state?

The silent majority has had enough. In this war of petty egos, ordinary people cannot continue to suffer. The two parties should reconsider their intransigence, lest they be left with nothing but ashes to rule after all is said and done.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2023

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