The matter of an opposition alliance to pressure the government into stepping down has been in and
out of the headlines for a while now. It seemed that whatever energy all the the participants were able
to build up dissipated once JUI-F’s so called dharna fizzled out, mainly because of lukewarm support
from the main opposition parties PML-N and PPP. Now, if sources quoted in the main press are to be
trusted, the smaller opposition parties are not happy at all with PPP and PML-N because they supported
the government in parliament over the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related legislation and now
want in writing from both parties that they will extend full support before they can get round to
convening the long delayed Multi Party Conference MPC, which will fine tune all the details.
And it’s little surprise that the meeting where the demand for a written deal was proposed was held at
the residence of Maulana Fazlur Rahman. He has been the principal architect of all anti-government
initiatives right from the time that the general election results came out in 2018. Yet, strange though the
demand for written commitment is, it is difficult to understand just how they expect the sitting
government to pack up and call a fresh election just because all of them overcame their own petty
differences long enough to badmouth everybody in power and all their policies. The maulana should
know the difficulties in pulling off a dharna and then maintaining it. There’s only so long you can say the
same things again and again to the same crowd and just hope that the government falls. Even PTI’s
famous sit-in, which the opposition now accuses of being backed by the so-called establishment, was
not able to achieve its prime aim in the end.
Democracies have very clearly defined rules for the opposition. If all the parties now out of power check
the government wherever it steps over a line, and make sure everybody knows about it, then its actions
are pretty much justified. But if its main problem is being suddenly out of the halls of power, something
that the government says has disturbed the maulana to no end, then any unnecessary criticism of the
government really earns nobody any points in the end. Perhaps that is why the more mature of the
opposition parties, PPP and PML-N, chose the path of prudence. What will become of the demand of the
written commitment, if it is indeed true, and the MPC, remains to be seen. But it doesn’t seem that the
government is going anywhere anytime soon.
Democracies have very clearly defined rules for the opposition. If all the parties now out of power
check the government wherever it steps over a line, and make sure everybody knows about it, then its
actions are pretty much justified.