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December 3, 2020

Honest dialogue

Newspost

 
December 3, 2020

The federal government once again resorted to an extremely undemocratic move when it blocked all entry points to the main city of Multan on November 30 before the PDM public gathering. The deployment of heavy contingents of police officers in the city and the arrest of political workers reflected the government’s frustration. The use of unbridled force against political workers inside the stadium reminded me of the military regimes led by Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. In Multan, both the opposition and the district administration were at daggers drawn and there was a fear of serious clashes between the two parties. However, the threat was averted at the eleventh hour when the government had to abruptly give in, letting the opposition hold a public rally at the Ghanta Ghar Chowk. In a democratic setup, the use of force has no logic as peaceful protests are the constitutional right of every citizen. The PTI staged a sit-in in the federal capital in 2014 for more than a hundred days, but the then government of the PML-N never used violence against the party’s workers.

It is true that public rallies may increase the chances of the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Given the severity of the situation, both the government and the opposition have the collective responsibility to follow SOPs in letter and spirit and postpone such political gatherings. In this regard, the prime responsibility falls more on the government than the opposition. Instead of using force against participants, police officers should ensure that all participants are wearing masks and following physical distancing measures. It will be better for the incumbent government to engage in a productive dialogue with the opposition parties to convince them to postpone the rallies for a few months. The environment for such engagements is to be created exclusively by the government. But if the government’s representatives continue to hurl personal attacks at the opposition leaders, the political opponents will get provoked and may retaliate, which may lead to chaos and turmoil in the country.

Guldar Khan Wazir

Loralai