- An impressive and charged gathering
The opposition has taken to the streets not out of choice but out of compulsion. For over two years it made several offers to the government for cooperation in vital legislation and formulating a joint economic policy. The moves were interpreted by PM Imran Khan as attempts to seek reprieve for opposition leaders and were promptly turned down. Meanwhile PTI’s inexperienced lawmakers took recourse to unseemly remarks about the opposition leaders often couched in provocative language. On occasions this turned the National Assembly into a fish market. Recently NA Speaker disallowed the leader of the opposition, in violation of parliamentary traditions, from speaking before voting on some of the FATF related bills. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari too was not permitted to speak. Meanwhile, PTI ministers and spokesmen were encouraged by the PM to pour scorn on the opposition on a daily basis
Thousands of opposition activists converged on Gujranwala’s Jinnah Stadium defying threats of arrest and negotiating road blocks set up on intercity routes. The first rally by the PDM has turned out to be successful because people are fed up with increasing unemployment, rising prices of food items and hike in power and gas charges.
The PTI has never been tired of reminding the opposition in particular and the common people in general that it was on the same page with the army. The statements amounted to implicating the military establishment in PTI’s foibles and misadventures. As the establishment made no effort to dissociate itself from the PTI’s policies, it came under criticism at the rally
Unless the PTI government undertakes measures to bring down the prices, not only of wheat flour and sugar but of the whole gamut of essential kitchen items and reduce the power and gas rates, the harried people will continue to throng the opposition rallies. As long as the establishment fails to ensure its impartiality in the opposition’s tussle with the government, it will face public criticism. In case the PM continues to ignore the public’s suffering and does not engage with the opposition he will remain the PDM’s target. The opposition’s rallies may not lead to government change but would nevertheless exhaust and enfeeble the PTI administration.