Islamabad October 24, 2016: The ball is in the court of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to extricate the nation out of the dark shadows of an impending political implosion before the threatened lockout on November 2 of Islamabad by Imran Khan but it required that the Prime Minster listened to reason and acted decisively.
This was stated by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar at a seminar organized by SDPI in Islamabad on current political situation-the way forward Monday evening.
He said that three factors made the current political situation far more complicated than in the past.
One, there is a situation of national security crisis on borders with India and Afghanistan. Two, the civil-military relations are far from cordial, a reality highlighted by a recent newspaper report of a security related meeting in the PM house. Three, the declaration by PTI Imran Khan to lay siege to the capital till the Prime Minister resigned.
The tension can still be defused and the risks averted if the Prime Minister dismounted the high horse and took some concrete measures, he said.
First, the PM should announce taking effective measures like endorsing the opposition sponsored Bill in the Senate to pursue inquiry in the Panama papers to its logical conclusion. Second, issues in civil-military disconnect be addressed by urgently setting up Parliamentary Committee on National Security, promised at the time of the recent All Parties Conference on Kashmir. Third, decision making be institutionalized by appointing a full time Foreign Minister and the sacred cow syndrome be ended in addressing issues in corruption, he said.
Farhatullah Babar said that Imran Khan had laid bare his cards and declared that the siege will continue till the Prime Minister resigned otherwise the whole cabinet will have to go and fresh elections held. Imran has also warned that the dharna will continue at all cost and that the PM will be responsible if the democratic system got derailed.
There has been a deafening silence by the government until now and when finally the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar broke silence he did so in a very casual and non- serious manner. Dar ridiculed Imran as jealous of Nawaz Sharif and said that Imran was not fated to become the Prime Minister of the country. There was not a word about how the government intended to respond to the challenge, he said.
He said that there were two options available to the government. It may sit back and watch it fizzle out as at the time of the August 2014 dharna.
However, the problem with this option is that the previous dharna was professed to be peaceful while this one is threatened to be a total lockout of the federal capital.
The other option is to pre-empt the dharna by mass arrests and sealing the entry points to the capital. The problem with this option is that the success this strategy requires full backing of the establishment. It is difficult to assert that the establishment is willing to bail out Nawaz Sharif, he said.
Farhatullah Babar said that holding of protest demonstrations was a democratic right of a political party but blockading the city and shutting government business was not adding that the PPP did not support such an extreme step.