- Peace needs to be maintained as before
Hypocrisy continues to be the hallmark of the PTI when it comes to condemning opposition’s rallies. PM Imran Khan, who is expected to act more responsibly, addressed two big public rallies early this month in total defiance of the coronavirus SOPs. Politics came first, considerations of public health second. His advice to the opposition to desist from holding public gatherings when the country was reeling under the impact of the second wave of Covid-19 therefore carries little moral weight. When the Information Minister maintains that the ‘mentality of selfish political coterie was exposed as it was playing with lives of innocent people and workers for minor political advantage’, his diatribe, which is aimed at the opposition, turns into a damning censure of Imran Khan himself.
Of the six planned rallies, the PML-N has already held four. Despite being advised not to drag army into politics, the opposition perhaps thought that it would be too much to ignore the elephant in the room. The inadequacies of the PTI leadership have forced those who helped it to come to power to volunteer to perform functions that come strictly under the purview of the elected government. This explains why sections of business class prefer to approach the COAS rather than the PM for help. Unlike in countries with a democratic system, foreign ambassadors and dignitaries call in droves on the army chief. The opposition holds army to be responsible for not only foisting on the country, a thoroughly incompetent ruling party but also of continuing to provide it support. The army is therefore regularly being discussed in the PDM’s public meetings as never in the past.
PM Imran Khan has warned of imposing a total lockdown if the opposition’s rallies continue. The Punjab government on the other hand has refused to give permission for the remaining rallies, the next one in Multan scheduled for November 30 and the last one in Lahore on December 13. The PDM leadership is however bent upon holding the last two rallies. A resort to force by the government needs to be avoided to keep the protests peaceful. One expects the PDM to act prudently. It needs to ensure that unlike at its previous gatherings, SOPs are fully adhered to in Multan and Lahore.