All roads lead to Parliament

  • But the government must make it possible

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser is busy holding meetings for the holding of a new session of the House, including one with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The logic, which Speaker Qaiser is pushing, is that Parliament is the best forum for settling all national issues, so the opposition PDM should take its protest off the street and bring it to Parliament. Obviously, for this to work, Parliament must be in session, not least because it will take away many leading figures off the streets, who are presently busy being the ornaments of PDM rallies. It also feeds the PTI narrative of not negotiating with anyone who is not a member of Parliament, a move meant to exclude not just PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman but also PML(N) Vice-President Maryam Nawaz.

In this context, former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry’s remark that both government and opposition need to step back from their existing positions is perceptive. If there is to be any result of a negotiation, then both parties must be ready to move away from their stated positions. The government has already shown its concern with whom it will talk to, but the Maulana and Ms Nawaz are being pushed forward by the government itself, for the Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif and PML (N) leader Kh Asif are both in NAB custody. The government insists on not talking to those who are corrupt, insistent on deciding who is corrupt, and eagerness to designate as corrupt all those in the forefront of the opposition, means that it may soon find itself with no one to talk to. The essence of calling a Parliament session is so that voices expressing opposing opinions are all heard.

The calling of Parliament is basically a requirement, as there are a certain number of days of meeting to be completed each year. The House must be in session for the Senate elections, especially for the Senators to be elected from Islamabad. If Parliament is to meet, it is too much to expect it not to deal with the opposition’s movement, which has convulsed the nation. However, if there are to be any results, the government must get off its high horse and stop being so self-righteous.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]
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