Opposition alliance

Published April 15, 2024

AFTER the customary Ramazan interlude, political activity has resumed as usual. A ‘grand’ opposition alliance has emerged, comprising several political parties that have chosen to stand against the incumbent government on the grounds that the latter ‘stole’ the Feb 8, 2024, elections through the widespread manipulation of results. Calling itself the TTAP — the Tehreek-i-Tahaffuz-i-Ayeen-i-Pakistan, or ‘Movement to protect the Constitution’ — this assortment of political parties, comprising the PTI, the BNP-M, PkMAP and the MWM, has vowed to launch “a countrywide movement for the rule of law”. The Jamaat-i-Islami will consider joining the alliance after it holds an internal consultation under its new chief, while rumour has it that the disgruntled Maulana Fazlur Rahman may also be invited to join the JUI-F’s forces to the cause. If the coalition solidifies, it could put considerable stress on the ruling coalition, which has started seeing some restlessness within its own ranks ever since several ‘hand-picked nominees’ were given tickets over long-time loyalists for the recent Senate elections. In particular, the JI and JUI-F’s ability to mobilise large numbers of workers may give the government cause for alarm.

It appears clear from the name the alliance has given itself what its biggest concern is. With the government coalition handed two-thirds control of both houses of parliament, the opposition is concerned that this legislative power may be abused to alter the makeup of the Constitution — especially in light of past experience when controversial legislation was hastily approved by the then ruling PDM coalition. It is likely that the opposition parties feel they must be in a position to challenge any attempt at legislative overreach by the government and to build up enough public pressure to deter the current set-up from getting too adventurous in law-making. As long as protests stay political and remain within the bounds set by the law, they ought to be welcomed as part of the democratic process. Meanwhile, the government should desist from resorting to any unlawful or extra-legal means to keep the political challenge at bay and also resist the temptation of using the state machinery to keep control over the opposition. The political situation at the moment appears quite delicately balanced; it may tip over due to even the slightest miscalculation. It is imperative, therefore, for this challenge to be dealt with politically.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2024

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