It is a theatre of the absurd playing out in the country. Amidst the imposition of Section 144 that prevents the assembly of more than four individuals while it is enforced, a procession of activists of the JUI(F) descended upon the capital. Estimates about crowd size may be contested, as they often are in Pakistan, but even the most conservative of estimates puts their number much higher than four.
After that, they proceeded to forcibly breach the gates of the Red Zone in Islamabad and protest inside against what they call the Chief Justice’s partisan attitude towards the PTI and its Chairman.
This is all in stark contrast to the treatment being meted out to the PTI, whose activists are being picked up left, right and centre and, if the party’s allegations are true, being kept in some rather deplorable conditions.
This stark contrast isn’t the only problematic aspect of the protest. Across the world, it is usually considered a little awkward for sitting governments to stage rallies and protests. Many political observers would go on to cite it as one of the signs of fascist regimes. Yes, the government might say that this is its right as a political player, and that it feels the judiciary isn’t being impartial but these qualifiers still don’t take away from their awkward position.
It is way overdue for both sides to start talking to each other in earnest and show some flexibility. Yes, the PTI has got a valid argument regarding what the constitution says about elections and that should be respected. But about all else, it would do the party a whole lot of good if it starts listening, for a change.
Similarly, other institutions of the state should also know their place as envisioned in the constitution and stay within their domain. The judiciary, for instance, knows better that justice should not only be done but also seen to be done.