- PTI government develops cold feet
Protests against the government are a common thing in democracies and governments do not put hindrances in their way unless the protesters start indulging in unlawful activities. The PTI government however is getting butterflies long before the start of the Azadi March. In its shortsightedness the government is employing tactics devised in the colonial era to dissuade the opposition from launching protests, in a free country practising democracy. For this, government machinery as well as NAB, are being used freely. The government has thus brought the opposition parties closer than they were before.
A number of the JUI-F ‘s district level leaders were arrested for being involved in otherwise normal political activities like collecting funds for the march, getting banners and placards prepared and stored, and for inviting people to join the protest that will begin on October 27. The Punjab police arrested the PML-N’s Captain Safdar for speaking against state institutions. NAB initiated a case to put pressure on the leader of the opposition in the KP assembly, Mr Akram Durrani. To block the entry of the KP protesters into Punjab, the government started commandeering containers owned by private-sector companies. The Interior Ministry hurriedly circulated a summary among cabinet members to ban the JUI-F guards. Meanwhile threats have been extended to the opposition by the PTI’s team tasked with negotiations. The measures being taken by the government are counterproductive as they can cause incitement and lead to violent confrontation that needs to be avoided.
Early this month former PM Nawaz Sharif, already in jail, was taken into custody by NAB after the Bureau arrested him in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case and obtained his physical remand. There is a perception that he is being kept in solitary confinement to stop him from having any contact with the protesters. The reported deterioration of Mr Sharif’s ailments is likely to force double-minded PML-N leaders and workers to join the protests.
The joint opposition has expressed willingness to talk to the government provided no hindrance is created in the Azadi March. The olive branch extended by opposition needs to be accepted by the PTI administration, which is expected to display self-confidence.