Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

The government should engage the opposition in an attempt to take it off the streets

April 12, 2022


So, Shehbaz Sharif is the new incumbent of the Prime Minister House. But as Sharif was elected as Pakistan’s 23rd PM, it was a day of unprecedented political turmoil. The en-bloc resigning of PTI legislators from the National Assembly sealed the fate of politics to come. Though the ex-ruling party’s decision was not unexpected, what made it quite unnerving is the choosing of time.

As per democratic norms, it was widely hoped that the ousted PM, Imran Khan, will take the chair of leader of opposition, and exercise his right to criticise the new government on policy matters. But that was not the case. The PTI apparently seemed to be swept away with the overnight turnout of masses in support of their leader’s decision to what he termed an ‘imported government’ in the making. Thus, from now on it’s a one-way traffic in the house in the absence of a credible opposition. This is where the resilience of the new government will be tested as it navigates through some of the critical decisions in terms of legislative business, as well as budget-making and introducing reforms. As a good starting step, the PM-elect increased the minimum wage to Rs25,000 and made a 10% raise in pensions, both effective from April 1.

The theatre of politics, nonetheless, has now moved on to the streets. The opposition under Imran Khan, indeed, is a force to reckon with. The situation is in a flux as the future of Punjab Assembly hangs in the balance, and governors from almost all four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan plan to tender their resignations in solidarity with the ousted Federal dispensation. It is a constitutional crisis of sorts. The government cannot afford to blink. Moreover, the 120-plus resignations from PTI legislators will act as the toughest challenge for the new government, keeping it on the edge whether to opt for bye-polls or dissolve the National Assembly. With the PTI demanding nothing but general elections, the space has been thrown open for a broad-based national dialogue. The government should engage the opposition in an attempt to take it off the streets. This is how further instability could be stemmed. The ensuing confrontation bodes ill for the system at large.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2022.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ