December Issue 2014

By | News & Politics | Opinion | Editorial | Published 4 years ago

109 days, and he is still batting at the crease.  A very determined captain refuses to declare his innings till he has reached his coveted score: electoral reforms and an investigation into allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections by a judicial commission set up under the aegis of the Supreme Court.

While Khan’s November 30 jalsa was impressive in terms of numbers, his declaration of intent to shut down Lahore (December 4), Faisalabad (December 8), Karachi (December 12) and the whole country (December 18) was disturbing, to say the least.

Alongside, he gave a deadline of four to six weeks to complete the entire exercise.  Given that there has been little movement on that score in the last 15 weeks or so, how does the PTI expect the government to meet its deadline?

More so now, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is feeling more secure in the knowledge that the alleged script involving the role of the army and ISI in backing Khan’s dharnadoes not seem to exist and PAT’s Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri is out of the picture for now.  A confident PML-N asserts that it has already set up a 33-member Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, representing all parties, and that it is the PTI which is dragging its feet – after attending a couple of meetings, they pulled out.

Interestingly, the committee is led by Ishaq Dar, who apparently heads 32 other committees. Is the PML-N so short of competent hands? Exactly how is Dar expected to juggle meetings of so many committees, in addition to performing his taxing job as finance minister? In fact, given the deep distrust between the PTI and the PML-N, would it not have been a better option to appoint someone from the opposition benches to that post?

The government does not appear to be in the mood to cede any ground to the PTI. In fact, it has set its loose canons – the law minister and the railways minister, in addition to the information minister – on Khan and company, to counter their incessant “diatribe.” And a few days prior to the November 30 jalsa, it ran a stinging campaign against the PTI on the electronic media, allegedly costing 3 crores a day drawn from the public exchequer. With the government hell-bent on going hammer and tongs at Khan, and the PTI in an equally defiant mood, this battle of wills that is testing the country’s nerves is not about to end any time soon.

Unless, the captain of the ship, Nawaz Sharif decides to take up the matter in right earnest instead of adopting delaying tactics, and the other captain tones down his rhetoric, steps down from his maximalist position and comes to the table.

This is not a T-20 or a Test match.  The future of the country is at stake here.  And the sooner this confrontation ends, the better.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.