A homeopathic APC | Pakistan Today

A homeopathic APC

  • Khan seems set on his crease with all the necessary support

As a precursor to the opposition parties’ APC (All Parties Conference) being held today, the country’s lawyers held their own APC on Thursday, sponsored by the PBC (Pakistan Bar Council). The resolutions adopted at the meeting were highly critical of government policies in relation to freedom of expression and media, the one-sided accountability process and the military’s increasing role in governance.

Unsurprisingly, the lawyers moot came out hard on the issue of the independence superior judiciary demanding repeal of the 19th amendment to the constitution. The amendment gives the superior judiciary leading role in the appointment of judges of the higher judiciary. This is implicitly a vote of no confidence on the impartiality and independence of the superior judiciary.

This is a far cry from the 2007 Lawyers’ successful movement for a free judiciary spearheaded by the then CJP justice Iftikhar Choudhry and different lawyers’ bodies. That rare form unity resulted in the ouster of dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

But soon the revolution started souring. In the past two years a zero-tolerance policy towards dissent has been streamlined by design. Resultantly, barring a few exceptions, space for independent discourse has vastly shrunk.

It is a conundrum for Khan. If he blocks Sharif it will provide grist to the opposition’s propaganda mills exposing the PTI’s already badly tarnished democratic credentials.

In this backdrop, widespread scepticism is being expressed about the proposed PPP-sponsored APC achieving anything. In fact, it might increase the cynicism about the opposition parties’ desire and ability to close their ranks and give the rulers a befitting response to their high-handed anti-dissent tactics.

The recent passing of the FATF related legislation amply exposes the chinks in the opposition’s armour. Despite the theoretically superior numbers, the opposition parties did not muster adequate strength in the parliament to defeat the legislation.

Was it by coincidence or design? Probably the latter is true.

Lame excuses proffered by the PML-N, for example, that one of its leading lights simply did not show up because his close relative was seriously ill, simply do not wash. That is why the PTI and its backers were confident that the bill will easily pass through even before it was tabled.

A poorly organised and a highly demoralised opposition poses no threat to the government at least for the time being. That is why Khan is becoming increasingly intolerant, aggressive and bordering in personal insults by the day.

Every day that passes he is becoming more intolerant towards any form of dissent. Media persons are constantly under threat of being made a horrible example of. As a result, journalists feel adequately intimidated not to call a spade a spade.

In any case, a majority of media owners do not have any ideological commitments to freedom of the press and are quite willing to take the easy way out. Most media houses are in in dire financial straits hence are quite happy as long as their financial health keeps on improving.

A lot of hype has been created about the opposition’s grand show. But proof of the pudding is in eating it. Bilawal Bhutto, as a prelude to the APC, has been taking quite a strident line against the government.

Whether the PPP leadership will be able to walk the talk is yet to be seen. Zardari is the co-chairperson of the party, a master tactician; he keeps his cards close to his chest.

Although it sounds difficult to imagine that the APC could prove to be another damp squib. But this is what might happen the day after.

To give some hype to the APC, Nawaz Sharif is expected to address the moot through video link from London where he has been under treatment (the more intense and invasive part of which is yet to begin) since November last year.

Sharif has nothing much to lose after being declared an absconder. It is yet to be seen if the government will allow the PML-supremo to speak.

According to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Dr. Shahbaz Gill, PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) will take action if ‘fugitive Nawaz’ is allowed to speak at the APC. In all likelihood the section where Nawaz speaks will be blacked out by the channels themselves, those who won’t, will probably be fined.

This is the extent of what PEMRA can realistically do, but what the action will expose is the government’s insecurity when it comes to Sharif becoming more vocal, that too addressing an APC.

If Sharif is able to address the opposition’s much hyped moot through video-conferencing without interruption it will prove to be a big boost to the opposition’s sagging fortunes. Nevertheless, instead of throwing the book at the opposition or try to block Sharif trough force or intimidation, the government should show some restraint in the matter. The proposed APC will get a big boost one way or the other.

It is a conundrum for Khan. If he blocks Sharif it will provide grist to the opposition’s propaganda mills exposing the PTI’s already badly tarnished democratic credentials.

At the same time however the ruling party is well aware of the fact that the opposition’s unity is very fragile. JUI-F’s failed dharna notwithstanding, each party has its own agenda that pulls them in different directions, rendering them virtually incapable of organising any meaningful street agitation.

Even if somehow, on paper, the opposition can generate the required numbers, those who allow such shows of power to go forward are in the government’s corner and that in itself is not only a source of confidence for Khan and his party but a barrier in the way of the opposition’s effectiveness.


  1. Winston said:

    This guy is a beneficiary of the old system. Never believe anything he writes because he will only write stuff which will benefit Nawaz, zardari and ultimately himself

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