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October 31, 2016
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‘Saving democracy’ with petty politics

Islamabad

October 31, 2016

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There is always a common argument in favour of opposition parties every ‘adventurism’ that criticism or protest against government policies is their democratic right. Yes, this right is honoured in a democratic society. However, it doesn’t allow any political force to always go for public protests, campaigns or long marches only for the sake of opposition or creating troubles for sitting government and too at the cost of national interests. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf claims to be a torch-bearer of ‘true democracy’ in the country but is always witnessed drafting protest campaigns against the incumbent government on one way or the other.

Opposition forces do have a constitutional obligation to monitor and point out government’s wrong policies and give suggestions to put things on right track. However, all that should be in the Parliament which is the legitimate and constitutional platform to discuss national issues and find out their solutions within the constitutional framework. It has been and is the hallmark of the PTI that it always opts for street politics, road shows and long marches whenever there are issues like ‘election rigging’ or PanamaLeaks completely putting aside the national interests.

Imran Khan’s way of taking solo flights or making decisions without taking the party gurus along on national issues has earned masses’ ire and caused dissociation on the part of other saner political forces with it. Even most of his comrades, who were once ready to render any sacrifice for their leader, have now started openly opposing their chief’s ‘hasty decisions.’

Now as the November 2, the date when PTI planned to siege Islamabad (protest sit-in), is drawing nearer, the political tension is rising among the saner political forces on one hand, while on the other hand citizens of Islamabad have started recalling the scares and huge problems faced during the four-month long PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehrik sit-in in the federal capital over a year back. The official as well as social life of the capital remained standstill during that protest sit-in. It was a point of high regret that the PTI leaders never realised the level of damage their ‘dharna’ had done with the national life. Even Chinese President Xi, who was scheduled to inaugurate the $46 billion projects in Pakistan, had to postpone his visit to Islamabad.

In fact, the PTI claims to be the force of ‘change’ in the country. No doubt, it is bringing new trends in politics; holding siege of political leaders’ residences is the ‘hallmark’ of only the Imran-led PTI. Last month’s march towards Sharifs’ residence in Riawind was no service on the part of PTI to the democracy. Even the opposition parties, who were earlier supporting Imran Khan’s demand for investigation into the PanamaLeaks, had refused to join the PTI’s plan to hold protest in Riawind terming it an undemocratic way of protest. Ultimately, PTI had no option but to retreat from its earlier plan to siege Sharifs’ residence and only held a gathering of few thousand party supporters outside Riawind.

The very short history of PTI holds the testimony that its leader Imran has always remained obsessed with his own thinking and approach. Whether it is the issue of supporting Musharraf rule, protest alliance with Tahirul Qadri, carrying a huge crowd to the Taliban-infested
tribal areas, intra-party elections, boycott of Parliament, election rigging or protest sit-in, Imran has always been witnessed to have crushed opinions of his party comrades.

Every time when there comes out an issue the cricketer-cum politician comes out to streets for protest. Attempts were also made by the opposition parties and even by the incumbent government leadership to convince Imran to come to the Parliament to discuss whatever he wanted to.

However, he never lent his ear to these repeated requests and opted to demonstrate street power, making all stakeholders believe that he himself is negating the very spirit of democracy.

The repeated ‘illogical’ stance of PTI on a couple of national issues has given strength to the perception that this party’s leadership hardly believes in democracy. For instance, the government-summoned APC on the Kashmir violence and subsequent Pak-India tension and opposition forces positive response was encouraging. But the PTI leader again demonstrated immaturity by boycotting the joint session of Parliament on the same issue and threatened to lock down Islamabad after Muharram.

The non-serious attitude of Imran Khan has already not only crippled his vote bank but also has damaged the country economically, socially and politically. Now as the country has been put on road to progress as endorsed in the reports of international institutions, we can no more afford any adventurism in the name of saving democracy. It is, no doubt, a matured approach being displayed by state institutions especially armed forces and opposition parties towards strengthening political stability in the country. Otherwise, what immaturity the PTI along with its cousin party (Pakistan Awami Tehrik) had demonstrated through protest sit-in in the federal capital and talking of third umpire’s possible intervention were enough to witness derailment of the democratically elected incumbent government once again.

Now once again Imran Khan’s warning of army’s intervention in case Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not resign or hold investigation of the PanamaLeaks according to the PTI demands actually reflects his mind of revolt against the system. The painful aspect of the PTI culture of street politics and repeated deadlines to government are the innocent workers of the PTI who are misused every time. These workers are groping in darkness without knowing their fate. Imran should stop playing with the sentiments of his party workers as it does
not suit the leader of Pakistan’s third largest political party.

The people of Pakistan are now seeing a better future in the shape of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the country cannot afford any derailment of political system once again. Parliament is the constitutional platform to discuss issues and find out their solutions. Imran must endorse the sanctity of the Parliament as street protests or long marches cannot be the substitute to the legislature in any way.

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