Need to take matters to Parliament
The government needs to realize that there is a limit to bulldozing bills through Parliament. A time comes when the opposition can no more be ignored and has to be taken on board irrespective of the ruling party’s antipathies. The government could pass the Supplementary Finance Bill rejecting all amendments proposed by the opposition but lacks the numerical strength to get a constitutional amendment through. As the end of the of the military courts’ tenure draws near, pressure is mounting on the government to give them another extension. An understanding with the opposition is the only way out.
There are indications that the parliamentary leaders of the opposition may not turn up at the briefing by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the National Action Plan (NAP) on March 28 unless their reservations are addressed. Unlike the JUI(F), which has now rejected the NAP in toto, the PML(N) and the PPP still want it to be enforced. The two however want the briefing to be given to the whole Parliament rather than to a few selected leaders. The PPP is willing to discuss the matter in an in camera session if there is sensitive information to be shared. The opposition thinks the government is only interested in getting extension for the military courts. Even if this is so, the government should have no hesitation to have a parliamentary debate on the issue.
PPP Co-chairman BiIawal Bhutto Zardari has claimed the there is enough video-recorded evidence displayed on TV channels to prove that three Cabinet ministers have links with banned outfits and share their ideology. Further, that unless they are removed, the government’s claim that it wants to enforce the NAP would remain doubtful. What one of the three ministers said live on a TV channel about Mr Bhutto Zardari is being interpreted as a threat to the latter’s life. Irresponsible remarks of the sort won’t help the government.
FM Qureshi still has six days to address the opposition’s reservations. Two years back the Parliament had agreed to extend the life of military courts with certain conditions. A consensus on military courts might still be achievable through give and take with the opposition.