No justification for street protests in presence of assemblies

LAHORE  - The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf will organise a rally in the provincial metropolis next Sunday (December 22) to protest against the unbearable price hike and mount pressure on the government to take effective measures to make it possible for the people with low incomes to survive.
The party plans to start the rally from Nasser Bagh and end it at Faisal Square, meaning thereby that The Mall will be a no-go area for the general traffic for several hours. Similar protests are also being planned for other cities in the days ahead.
This will be the second major decision taken by the PTI leadership after the May 11 elections, which the party alleges were massively rigged in favour of the PML-N. The first major decision was regarding blocking the NATO supplies to create a situation that the US is left with no option but to halt the unjustified drone attacks.
The blockade was started on November 23, but drones have not come to an end. The US authorities have repeatedly said that despite protests by the Pakistan government the attacks would continue till the high value targets are eliminated.
It’s true that prices of all essential items are beyond the reach of the common man and there’s need to draw the government’s attention to this issue of great public importance. But a rally is certainly not the right way of doing this, especially after the elections. The matter should be discussed in the National Assembly, where the PTI has reasonable representation – and which is also the right forum. And since PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has also supported the PTI’s point of view, his party can be expected to add its voice to the PTI’s. Some more opposition parties will also stand by Imran Khan, as a result of which the government would have to take necessary steps to bring prices down.
At a time when the national economy is already in a very bad shape and foreign exchange reserves have come down to $3 billion, a new wave of protests will further aggravate the situation. The rupee will further lose its value, pushing up prices still higher.
Instead of going for protests, opposition parties should play a positive role by advising the government as to what it should do to improve the economy and give relief to the people. This is the time for collective efforts. Unless the economy improves, no government can give any relief to people, no matter how strong its commitment.
The nation had elected its representatives so all problems are discussed by parliament, not on roads. If a party holds protest demonstrations on roads in the presence of assemblies, it only undermines the role of the elected houses.
Protests should be banned when elected houses are working.
Imran Khan rightly took notice of the prime minister’s daughter’s appointment as chairperson of the Rs 100 billion youth programme launched to give loans to the jobless. He was absolutely right when he said it was nepotism. But just like this issue was raised without coming on streets, the issue of price hike can also be raised the same way.
No doubt Maryam Nawaz is a capable woman. But this doesn’t mean that a huge amount of Rs 100 billion should be left at her disposal. This amount is about 50 per cent of the total budget of Balochistan (Rs 198.39 billion) for the current year. In other words, what the entire elected setup of Balochistan is entitled to spend over a year, the inexperienced daughter of the prime minister can spend half of that in a timeframe of her own choice.
Through the youth programme, Maryam Nawaz has been launched into politics. She will be groomed as successor of her father. Now Hamza Shahbaz is expected to confine his political role to Punjab. And it is for this reason that his father has already given him the role of a deputy chief minister.
This and all other important issues should be discussed in parliament.
Apparently, both the PML-N and the PTI are trying to attract young voters at the time of the local elections. If the PML-N is trying to get closer to voters through the Rs 100 billion programme, the PTI wants to achieve the same goal through protest rallies. Both parties should keep in mind that two wrongs don’t make a right.

on epaper page 3
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