Opposition’s flip-flop

Editorial Board
Thursday, Nov 25, 2021

On Tuesday, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) announced that the opposition alliance would meet again on December 6 to announce important decisions after making a final policy. PDM head Maulana Fazlur Rehman evaded some questions and had vague answers for others when asked about a long march against the government, the PDM’s plan of staging anti-government protests and the possibility of resignations from assemblies. He did, however, say that the opposition would not allow pre-poll rigging by allowing the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next elections.

The opposition seems a bit disjointed after the government was able to bulldoze more than 30 bills during the joint session of parliament. And, while the way the government did it was a mockery of democratic norms, at the end of the day the government was able to outsmart the opposition. We saw that the entire opposition was united when it came to defeating the government’s proposed bills but even that unity did not matter much in the face of some outside help. The opposition is still divided, as is evident by the PPP’s stance on the votes of the independent senators from the Dilawar Khan group. It was their votes that had led to Yousaf Raza Gilani being elected as the opposition leader in the Senate. The same group votes for the treasury benches when it comes to important legislation where the opposition votes against the government. This seems like a farce and most are well aware of it. There are also rumours that there may also be differences between the strategies being proposed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the PML-N leadership in the PDM. The opposition will need to get its act together in order to challenge the government.

However, this does not mean that everything is going well for the government either. The country is going through one of the toughest economic crises. From the rate of the dollar to the increase in prices of petroleum products to gas that is nowhere to be found, we have agreed to the IMF’s tough conditions, which will lead to even higher inflation in the country according to economic experts. Unfortunately, the government seems more worried about Nawaz Sharif addressing the Asma Jahangir Conference and the funding of the conference, which is a matter of public record, rather than focusing on issues that need its attention. Is it because the government fears Nawaz Sharif or because the government really believes in rule of law? The government says an absconder cannot address a public conference but when another absconder – Ishaq Dar – was interviewed by BBC’s Stephen Sackur, his interview was aired on local media too. Back then, the government had no issue with an absconder as it served their own purpose. Will we eventually reach the ‘good absconder’, ‘bad absconder’ level – a distinction we as a country seem to excel in? Both the government and the opposition are busy with their own prioritised agenda while the common person suffers from rising inflation and struggles to make ends meet. These are the people who vote for political parties so their chosen parliamentarians can raise their voice for them. Instead, we see a disinterested treasury and an opposition that is trying to weave its way through its own complexities.