- Govt should hold talks with opposition
The PDM is finally in action. The alliance will hold its first rally in Quetta on October 11 to test the waters. After this, rallies will be held in other three provincial capitals as well as in the smaller cities of the country. With its several leaders under threat of arrest, the ten-day-old alliance has to set up an organisational structure while simultaneously conducting agitation. A steering committee comprising representatives from all PDM parties has been formed to take decisions.
The arrested opposition leader Mian Shahbaz Sharif stood for conciliation with the establishment. His incarceration has brought hardliner Ms Maryam Nawaz into action. Interestingly the initial response to Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s arrest from both former PM Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam was confined to targeting the ‘puppet regime’ of PM Imran Khan without directly criticizing the Army. A call has been made instead to those “who brought PM Imran Khan into power” through the 2018 elections to withdraw their support to him as he is avowedly “an immature, incompetent, corrupt and inexperienced person” and has landed the country in disaster.
The PDM bears a heavy cross. The PML(N} and JUI(F) can take whatever steps are needed to remove the PM including resignations from the National Assembly. The PPP has a tightrope walk ahead to retain the Sindh government while participating in the PDM’s agitation also.
The government and its patrons too face problems dealing with the protest movement. The people are hard hit by rising prices. Soon there will be gas and power shortages. This could provide street power to the PDM. Increasing confrontation with the opposition would create uncertainty in the country. The news of the arrest of Mian Shahbaz Sharif has already had a negative impact on the KSE-100 index that plummeted 960 points (2.30 per cent) and closed below the 41,000 level at 40,741. The right to protest is a part and parcel of democracy. The opposition is therefore within its right to exercise it, while it is the opposition’s duty to keep the protests peaceful. The way out is not arrests through NAB but negotiations with the opposition. Meanwhile NAB needs to be reined in from targeting the opposition leaders only.