- The level of hostility is fearsome
With the opposition preparing for rallies in Multan and Lahore, Prime Minister Imran Khan accompanied by the Punjab Chief Minister and others called upon PML(Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in a bid to pacify the annoyed allies who had skipped Mr Khan’s luncheon earlier this month. A meeting was also held separately between the PM and Ch Shujaat Hussain and Punjab Assembly Speaker Ch Pervez Elahi, indicating that some sort of understanding had been reached between the allies, at least for the time being.
At a press briefing in Lahore, Mr Khan dilated on what he considered the successes of his government. The twin deficits created by the previous governments were overcome; the textile industry was running at full throttle and was now facing a shortage of labour; the country’s exports were increasing at a faster pace, leaving India and Bangladesh far behind. Minus paying loans and interest installments, Pakistan’s income had surpassed its expenditures, he claimed, forgetting that the loans accumulated during the last two years exceeded all previous records of any two years. Mr Khan also mentioned the distribution of unprecedented cash assistance among 15 million poor people to save them from hunger.
What irks the people most are rising prices of food items, back breaking utility charges and unemployment. There was bad news for them but this was to be conveyed not by Mr Khan but the Information Minister and the SAPM on Petroleum, who told media that there was soon going to be another increase in utility rates which was to be passed on to the hapless consumers, even when it was caused by the inefficiencies of the distribution companies.
The PM knows the opposition will raise these issues in public meetings. So the opposition is not to be allowed to hold the meetings in Multan and Lahore. Over the last more than two years Mr Khan had enough time to initiate talks with the opposition to evolve a modus vivendi without endangering the system. He wasted the opportunity, sadistically enjoying the suffering of the opposition leaders in NAB custody. Even now he continues with his rhetoric about ‘no NRO’. The situation badly needs to be defused but there is no facilitator or mediator seen to be neutral. Meanwhile, one can only remind the opposition to act responsibly by ensuring that SOPs are followed during its rallies.