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July 30, 2020

Opposition politics

Editorial

 
July 30, 2020

The growing wrath of people over the rise in the prices of atta, sugar, oil and other commodities has been perceptible for some time. The opposition has maintained since the beginning that the PTI government has proved to be unable to manage the complex affairs of the country and in this respect has performed poorly compared to its predecessors; some would say this sentiment is now growing within the people. Following the latest round of talks on amendments in the NAB law and the demands put forward by the FATF, opposition parties have decided to rally their supporters and – more importantly – once again attempt a unified stance against the government.

At a meeting between opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif and PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto both politicians agreed that the present government is leading the country into destruction and needs to be stopped before irreparable damage is inflicted. This may not be quite a democratic way to look at things, though and we have in the past too warned about attempts to bring down sitting governments. However, the opposition seems to think that there is a feeling among people that further years of the PTI in power will simply cause more harm to Pakistan. The two opposition leaders have also accused the PTI of corruption in scandals involving wheat flour, sugar, petrol and other commodities. Apart from all else, the way NAB has proceeded in the past months has also led to concern not only among the opposition parties but also general observers that the accountability being pursued by the government may not be more than persecution and vendetta.

Problems also seem to arise from the fact that despite calling for talks with the opposition the PTI has been inflexible in its refusal to alter vital content of the NAB Ordinance or to make adjustments sought by the opposition. It has also accused the now united political opposition of trying to blackmail it by refusing to approve FATF demands until the NAB law is changed. The opposition has denied this. Building up what could become a powerful force Bilawal Bhutto has also met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman. A Multi-Party Conference is to be called after Eidul Azha and Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto have said a strategy to alter the current situation will be worked out during it.

This strategy could include a ‘march' to Islamabad – something the PTI is quite familiar with. While both Bilawal and Shahbaz Sharif seem to have for now agreed on 'some' movement, this meeting too will prove nothing significant unless the Parties' Conference outlines exactly what the opposition is setting out to do. Will things reach a point where a ‘dharna’ against the PTI turns into a reality? The current circumstances, with joblessness and inflation both on the rise, could make this an effective weapon. We also wait to see if the PTI holds out any kind of olive branch or shows a willingness to undo portions of the NAB law which have essentially been the trigger point for the latest display of anger from the opposition.