Tuesday October 03, 2023

Talking about talks

By Editorial Board
December 03, 2022

PTI Chairman Imran Khan seems to be having a case of buyer’s remorse after his surprise announcement of a decision to quit the [Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] assemblies. It’s either that or all is not as well in the PTI realm as the former PM would have us believe. In an obvious shift in tone, the usually belligerent Imran sounded almost conciliatory on Friday as he invited the PDM-led government to talk about the how-to of holding early general elections. Naturally, the stick he wielded was the threat of dissolving the assemblies in these two provinces, saying that if the PTI were to do so around 66 per cent of Pakistan would have to vote in the preceding by-polls.

While Imran has been at pains to categorically state that the PML-Q’s Punjab CM Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has promised to stand with whatever the PTI chair decides, a bombastic interview by Elahi’s son Moonis Elahi – who has said that former army chief Gen (r) Qamar Javed Bajwa had advised the PML-Q to stand with the PTI – has managed to crash land into the PTI’s current narratives regarding the former COAS and the lead-up to the vote of no-confidence. The end goal for the PTI has remained early elections; the party is convinced this is its best chance to return to power. Whether the long march that never happened or the assemblies that in all likelihood won’t dissolve or talks with the PDM government that could take place only if the PTI gives up its insistence on early elections, everything Imran and his party have done or will be doing is to get back the power they insist was snatched from them unconstitutionally. Never mind the fact that the no-confidence motion is a constitutional right.

As the PDM government consults within and with its allies to respond to Imran’s offer for talks, Asif Ali Zardari has also reentered the picture and has suggested, in somewhat vague terms, that the PDM could claim a majority in the provincial assemblies the PTI holds currently. where it holds very few seats. While this would truly require some of the infamous Zardari magic, one hopes that whatever happens ends up finally resolving this chaos. If elections are to be held, let them be held at the right time. If democracy is to continue – as it should – let it be as per the constitution. Let there not be further adventurism in the form of a change in the system of government, something Imran’s recent interview on TV seems to suggest he may look favourably on. Pakistan needs stability, its people need security, and none of this has seemed even remotely close over the past eight months.