- Instead of statesmanship, infantile politics
The proposed change in the status of Gilgit-Baltistan is a highly sensitive matter that must not be politicized as is being done by the PTI leadership. What the Information Minister said on Sunday reveals that the party is bent upon winning the forthcoming elections. It has already announced that it wanted to make the region a province of Pakistan with due representation in the National Assembly and Senate. According to the opposition, the PTI has already started distributing health cards which is an electoral malpractice and would be dubbed by the opposition as a part of pre-poll rigging. The opposition has already rejected the move by the National Assembly Speaker inviting opposition leaders to sit with him to discuss Gilgit-Baltistan polls, maintaining that the issue does not come under his purview. According to the PML(N), it was the responsibility of the chief election commissioner of Gilgit-Baltistan to announce a code of conduct for the elections after consulting all political parties.
Making Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan will require constitutional amendments. Unless there is an understanding between the government and the opposition, there is no way the government can manage the two-thirds majority of the total membership required in both Houses of Parliament. The PPP leaders made it clear at a press conference that a meeting of the parliamentary leaders could only be called by Prime Minister Imran Khan as Leader of the House in the National Assembly. This could be interpreted as a hint to the PM to personally open talks with the opposition on the issue.
In another infantile act, two dozen protesters hurled abuses outside the house where former PM Nawaz Sharif is staying in London. This sort of activity is likely to cause further bitterness between the opposition and the PTI government. What is more, it could turn out to be a double-edged sword if the other side responded similarly whenever it got the chance. What is needed is for the PTI leadership is to come down its high horse, and create an atmosphere conducive for talks with the opposition to settle important national issues setting aside personal likes and dislikes.