Sunday August 14, 2022

Political quicksand

By Editorial Board
January 16, 2022

We appear to be standing in a perilous situation as far as the political ground under our feet is concerned. In the first place, more and more rifts appear to be surfacing within the PTI itself. We saw a viral video of a former information secretary of the ruling party speaking about how the party had been corrupted and lost direction, while also questioning the leadership skills of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Then there were reports of a terse conversation in a cabinet meeting between the prime minister and a member of his cabinet. To add to these problems, the PTI had a situation in the National Assembly during the passage of the mini-budget on Thursday, when some members of the party did not show up for the voting. We are told that some of these persons were not well or were suffering from Covid. But there are questions now about whether the party is affected by a deeper and more long lasting issue.

While the PTI faces its own problems, and its own challenges in managing the country, where further inflation is infuriating people, the opposition too is moving slowly in attempting to find even ground. The PPP and PDM which had been estranged since last year with the PPP parted ways with the alliance. While the PPP has said outright that it has no plans to join the PDM again, senior leaders of the PML-N and the PPP have been holding meetings suggesting they may be looking at a common strategy. Neither side will say what the strategy is and whether they wish to topple the government through street power, force an in-house change if they feel able to do so or wait for the next general election. But quite clearly the opposition can see the PTI is struggling and will take full advantage of this. The Jehangir Tareen factor can also not be ignored, with Tareen recently seen all smiles with PML-N leaders at a non-political function – even commenting on the infamous airplane ready to fly in any direction. The ball seems to be spinning with particular venom. The opposition seems to be quite satisfied with where it sees Imran Khan’s government at the moment; and February and March could see a spate of protests against the government.

While the government must be held responsible for placing Pakistan in this situation, the opposition must also explain to us why it has not been able to put forward a full alternative plan or make suggestions as to what should be done to improve things for the future. The country badly needs national unity and the increasing divisions are all hurting it badly. What the future holds no one can say with certainty.