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May 21, 2019

Political opposition


May 21, 2019

Opposition is a part of democratic government and has to be accepted as such. Ideally, the opposition should also play a positive role in building democracy and its sustainability, while acting in a positive manner to resolve problems within a country. The mood at the informal iftar get-together images from which did bring back scenes from Pakistan's political past and democratic history hosted by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto in Islamabad on Sunday saw the building of what could be a significant alliance of groups currently in the opposition. Almost all these parties, including the PML-N, represented by Maryam Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the JUI-F, the BNP, the ANP, the QWP, MNAs from Fata, and other groups agreed to work together within the framework of an All Parties Conference which has said it will be staging protests against the recent price hikes and other ‘anti-people’ policies after Eidul Fitr.

With Maulana Fazlur Rahman in the chair of the APC, the strategies this diverse group of political leaders opts to follow will be watched closely. In all democracies, opposition is best put forward within the elected legislature and it is likely that this is the first line of action the PML-N, the PPP and their allies will take. Within parliament, the opposition groups hole enough seats to create considerable nuisance value should they opt to do so. It is also true that the PML-N and the PPP both have many years of parliamentary experience, while the JUI-F has the power to bring people onto the streets should such an option be followed. We must remember that in our democratic system, the opposition is not an enemy group but a part of the whole. There is a need for divisive politics to finally end and a process of more consultation and discussion put in place. After all, the kind of problems Pakistan faces are not simple ones to resolve. There are also currently too many of them and the predictions that inflation may increase after the budget in June sends out a grim signal to all. In this situation, it would be wise to open up the way for discourse across political lines. Otherwise, from what we can see in Islamabad, there could unrest and unease over the coming weeks and months.

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