New talks?

Published June 14, 2024

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the recent green signal for talks given by the PTI chief to his party, which has rekindled a spark or two of hope for a political turnaround. The circumstances certainly do not seem conducive, and it appears that it will be entirely up to the political leadership to make things work. But though neither side may want to make much of an effort at this stage, the opportunity, as uninviting as it may seem, must not be squandered. As weeks of impasse have turned into months and then years, the people have gradually lost all hope in the political system’s capacity to make things better. If Pakistan’s future is to remain democratic, politicians on both sides of the aisle now need to demonstrate that they are serious. The faction representing the PTI must publicly affirm that it will remain committed to the process, however frustrating it may be, while the government should build confidence by ordering the immediate release of all political prisoners, beginning with the many women who continue to be imprisoned without any trial.

Admittedly, there have already been quite a few efforts to ignite some kind of rapprochement between the two factions, and none has borne any fruit. Yet, we must not give up hope: hope that Imran Khan has finally realised that he must share the future with men and women he does not like and may even despise, and hope that the Sharifs and the Zardaris have realised that they cannot keep their legacy intact with the kind of abominable mistakes they have made in recent years. It has been quite frustrating that the future of the federation has lain in the hands of these politicians all along, and yet they have done everything to demonstrate their unworthiness for the immense responsibility entrusted to them by the public. It is hoped that they finally realise that they must set down new rules for political engagement and then abide by them, come what may. Politics is, after all, an evolving art. There are lessons aplenty in the experiences shared by these parties that can enable them to envision a better, fairer future together. They must demonstrate that the public’s expectations of them are met.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2024

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