PTI in conciliation mode

  • The government-opposition relations

It was all smiles and sunshine during the National Assembly sitting on Tuesday before the presentation of the amended finance bill. Shah Mahmud Qureshi supported the opposition’s demand for a parliamentary body to probe the charges of rigging in general elections 2018. During the debate on the issue, Qureshi withdrew from his earlier position of the committee having proportionate representation from the treasury and opposition benches conceding to the opposition’s demand for equal representation. Imran Khan pleaded for the right of citizenship for the children of the refugees who were born in Pakistan but agreed to take a decision on the issue only after discussion with the opposition. A resolution to build Bhasha and Mohmand dams was passed unanimously.

A confrontation in the Parliament does not presently suit the PTI. The party is wary of the impact of its budget on the public particularly among the low income groups. What is more, a semblance of peace at the home front will strengthen the hands of the PTI government as it enters into talks with other countries and international financial agencies. For this the federal and Punjab information ministers who were on the offensive against the opposition have been reined in. How long the PTI is capable of restraining its aggressive tendencies remains to be seen.

There is a vital difference between the functions of the party in power and the opposition. By exposing the flaws of the ruling party the opposition provides it a chance to improve its performance. In case it fails to heed, the government receives its comeuppance in the form of the election defeat. The PTI being a ruling party is expected to deliver on its pre-election promises and display patience for the opposition’s criticism. While the accountability bodies and the courts deal with the cases against political leaders irrespective of their party affiliations, the government must not be seen to be indulging in witch hunting. The opposition on its part should use all forums available to it to criticise the government while avoiding a recourse to confrontation at the cost of social peace. Hopefully the PTI and its opponents will abide by the rules of the game.