- A game of chicken that could be disastrous
The confrontation between the government and the opposition is ratcheting up by the day both inside and outside Parliament. In the National Assembly the opposition once again called on the Speaker to issue production orders of the detained opposition MNAs. The demand was again ignored. As usual, PTI MNA Murad Saeed delivered a harangue on the misuse of funds by the Sharif brothers and Asif Zardari during their respective tenures post 2008. Next week no confidence moves against both the Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman will be taken up` by the Upper House.
The opposition has announced its plans for public protests on July 25 when the last elections, considered manipulated by the opposition, were held last year. PML-N VP Maryam Nawaz has announced she would lead countrywide protests against the government, beginning with a rally in Faisalabad on Sunday. Meanwhile journalists and lawyers not affiliated with any political party are getting restive over restrictions on media and steps that avowedly restrict the independence of judiciary.
Those in power can help reduce the political tensions by accepting some of the genuine demands of the opposition like the production of arrested lawmakers in the National Assembly, making the accountability process even-handed and putting an end to what are perceived as vengeful actions against the opposition. Conversely, they can further accelerate the media trial of political opponents that is going on for nearly a year. They can further increase the use of NAB and the government machinery against the more vocal leaders of the opposition in the false hope that this would cow their rivals into submission.
The repressive tactics used by the government have failed to achieve the desired results. Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is no wisdom. The perception of being driven to the wall could make the opposition desperate. By claiming that its actions enjoy the support of those who matter, the government only compromises its position and encourages the critics to hold it responsible for queering the opposition’s pitch. Instead of acting in a way that can only promote social strife, the government should hold talks with the opposition and accommodate its legitimate complaints.