Opposition senators on Monday, while criticising the government for not taking enough measures to defuse the current political crisis, also rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s call for civil disobedience.
The senators were speaking on an adjournment motion moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) to discuss ‘an issue of grave national importance; namely the situation arising out of the convergence of the so-called ‘Azaadi’ and ‘Inqilab’ marches in Islamabad for the last three days resulting thus far in a civil disobedience call made by a political party’.
Opposition Leader in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said the government did not seem serious as ministers - Railways Minister and Planning Minister – were using strong words against both Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan.
He supported Imran Khan’s claim about the riggings, saying that general elections 2013 were massively rigged. Ahsan said he was preparing a white paper to disclose how elections were rigged in 14 constituencies.
The opposition leader said Lahore High Court (LHC) approached him to seek his opinion on the PTI’s Azadi and the PAT’s Inqalab marches. “I told them that the marches are not unconstitutional; however, the strategy to achieve these demands may be unconstitutional,” he said.
Aitzaz claimed that both the leaders had succeeded in bringing crowd to the capital but had failed to keep them for longer period and were trying to use them. “The announcement of Imran that he could not stop his supporters from entering the Red Zone shows that he wants to use his supporters as fuel,” he said.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said the balance of power had shifted from Islamabad to Rawalpindi due to some recent events and there was a real and potent threat to democracy.
“It is a bad omen for democracy and democratic institutions and it is imperative that the government gears up to hold negotiations both with the PTI and PAT to defuse the tense political situation and pull the country from the brink of destruction,” he said.
He said it was short-sightedness of the government ministers to treat Imran Khan as an insane and irrational person and not to talk with him.
“You do not dismiss so summarily and contemptuously even an actually insane person, who climbs up a pole threatening to kill himself and others,” he said.
Babar, however, also severely criticised the civil disobedience call, urging people to stop paying taxes to the government and said if urgent steps were not taken to defuse the situation then soon there would be nothing left in the hands of political forces.
ANP’s Afrasiab Khattak said Imran Khan’s call for civil disobedience was a threat to democracy.
He alleged that Imran Khan and his party swept elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) with the help of Taliban. “The elections in the K-P were also rigged,” he claimed.
Another ANP Senator Haji Adeel said Imran Khan’s civil disobedience campaign was not practical.
“If people do not pay gas and electric bill, utility companies, like K-Electric and SSGCL and SNGPL, will close down,” he said, adding that one could not deny paying GST on purchase of items and services.
The Senate also unanimously adopted a resolution moved by Senator Farhatullah Babar calling upon the government to amend the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order 2009 to empower the people of the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th,2014.