Avoid a no-holds-barred confrontation

Abide by Constitution

The PML(N)-led ruling alliance is within its rights not to concede PTI chief Imran Khan’s demands for the dismissal of the National Assembly and early elections, deciding instead to rule till the end of the National Assembly’s tenure. What worries one however is the govt’s decision to use the state’s coercive machinery to block the PTI’s self-styled Azadi March. The government has gone even a step further to invoke the colonial-era Section 144 in Punjab and Sindh to disallow public gatherings. It has also resorted to night raids to arrest PTI leaders and activists One did not expect the PML(N) and PPP, which have themselves suffered from oppressive measures of the sort, to employ them against the PTI

The right to protest and participate in any political activity is a fundamental right of every citizen of Pakistan. A government claiming to be a standard bearer of democracy is not expected to hinder the activities of any political party as long as these do not violate the law. The practice to block roads cannot be justified as it hinders freedom of movement and harms economic activity.

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There is a need on the PTI leadership’s part also to do some soul searching. PTI chairman Imran Khan claims his party has never broken the law. Weren’t the Pakistan Television (PTV) headquarters and parliament attacked during the PTI’s 2014 march? Wasn’t SSP Islamabad Asmatullah Junejo severely beaten by a group of violent protesters on Constitution Avenue? While the PTI has not expressly called upon its workers to resort to violence it has worked hard to promote hatred among its workers against political opponents calling them thieves, dacoits and traitors. This can provoke PTI workers who have been told again and again that they are fighting a jihad, to undertake violent acts on a much larger scale than in 2014. Again the PTI leaders continue to threaten civil war if their demands are not accepted There is a need on the part of both the ruling alliance and the PTI to bring down rhetoric and promote a culture of tolerance.

Independent media has undergone unprecedented pressure and harassment under the PTI rule. Despite this it continues to support every political party’s right to peaceful protest while vigilantly watching if the rules of the game are being followed.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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