- And demand for civilian supremacy
For more than two years the mainstream opposition parties tried to resolve their differences with the government in parliament rebuffing suggestions to take recourse to extra-parliamentary means to confront the government. What the opposition got in return were provocative statements from the PM who maintained that there could be no talks with the opposition as it wanted an NRO which he would never concede. He even dared it to lead protest marches against the government promising to provide containers to the protestors. The PTI’s hotheads in NA hurled insulting remarks forcing the opposition to hold several walkouts. The PM’s numerous spokespersons meanwhile continued a non-stop barrage of character assassination of the opposition leaders.
The opposition is now holding rallies to demand the PM’s resignation and fresh elections. After the first stage of protests when it held six rallies in the major cities of the four provinces, it has initiated a warm up exercise for the next stage of its agitation. The PDM organised a rally in Mardan which was one of the largest ever held in the city. It was followed by the PPP inviting all the PDM leaders to address its annual gathering to mark the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto. So far the opposition has managed to maintain pressure on the PTI government despite several internal differences which are common in alliances. The government is hoping that the PDM would break up on account of prevailing dissentions. It remains to be seen if the alliance’s components are able to sort these out at the meeting convened for the purpose on Saturday.
The ongoing confrontation does not bode well for the national economy, security and the attempts to control the pandemic. While it is for the PTI’s patrons to decide whether to withdraw the crutches provided to the government, there is little chance of an end to the agitations of the sort unless there is a national consensus on all institutions working within the scope provided to them by the constitution. Even if the ongoing movement fails, agitations like the MRD, ARD and the civil society’s anti Musharraf movement led by the lawyers would continue to rock the country. What needs to be noted is that over time these movements have radicalised an otherwise pro-establishment Punjab