ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should rescue the nation from an impending political implosion before the Islamabad lockout threatened by Imran Khan on November 2, but it required that the PM listened to reason and acted decisively, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said at a seminar organised by SDPI on Monday.
Enumerating factors rendering the current situation more complex than in the past, Senator Babar said that the country was facing a national security crisis on its borders with India and Afghanistan, the civilian-military relations were far from cordial and the declaration made by Imran Khan to besiege the capital till the PM quit his post.
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Tensions, he said, could still be defused if the prime minister dismounted from the high horse and took some concrete measures.
According to him, the PM should first announce taking effective measures such as endorsing the opposition’s bill on Panama Papers in the Senate. Then, the PM should address issues regarding the civil-military disconnect by setting up the Parliamentary Committee on National Security as promised at the time of the recent All Parties Conference on Kashmir. Lastly, decision-making should be institutionalised by appointing a full-time Foreign Minister and ending the sacred cow syndrome by addressing the issues of corruption, he said.
He reminded the audience that despite the adoption of an extraordinarily aggressive posture by Imran Khan, the PM and the government had remained eerily silent, adding that Ishaq Dar’s ridiculing of Imran could at best be termed casual and non- serious response.
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He said that the government could opt to act according to one of the two options available to it: It can sit back and hope it fizzles out just like the 2014 dharna.
But, the problem with this option is that the previous dharna was professed to be peaceful while this time, PTI had threatened to go for a total lockout of the federal capital. He said that the other option the government could exercise was to pre-empt the dharna by resorting to mass arrests and sealing off all entry points to the capital.
Senator Babar said: “There is just one problem with this option: this strategy requires the full backing of the establishment. It is difficult to assert that the establishment is willing to bail out Nawaz Sharif.”
“Although staging protest demonstrations was the democratic right of all political parties, blockading any city and shutting government business is not and PPP does not support such an extreme step,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2016.
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