The Prime Minister has observed that the days when undemocratic forces could usurp the rights of the people were over and that the country’s entire political force, irrespective of party affiliation, would join hands against any attempt at upsetting the applecart of democracy. He was talking to the official news agency APP at PM House on Saturday. His warning reflected the ruling setup’s apprehension that the judiciary, with its verdicts being persistently sidestepped by the PPP-led government, might collude with the army to derail the democratic exercise. Let us accept the fact that in a country with a history of military takeovers, it is inevitable for rumours of an impending coup to make the rounds whenever political forces in power clash. And as the two-and-a-half-year long standoff between the government and the Supreme Court appears to be coming to a boil, such rumours find fertile ground to grow and proliferate. The best way to quash such speculation, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Raja must appreciate, would be for his government to shed its resistance to the judicial pronouncements. For, the charade of ‘respect for the judiciary’ and, at the same time, persistent defiance of its clear orders is inconsistent with the cause of democracy.
Prime Minister Ashraf also announced that he would always be ready to engage in talks with the opposing political elements on issues of importance to the country. This is a welcome sign suggestive of political maturity. Pakistan, as ill luck would have it, is not short of crises, by any means. For example, the daily massacre in Karachi, where coalition partners enjoy overwhelming support defies commonsense; if the partners in power cannot resolve such issues, it is difficult to believe that the government and opposition can amicably get over their differences. For instance, Punjab’s constant complaint of discrimination in the supply of electricity goes unaddressed. The critical juncture at which Pakistan stands today calls for all political parties, whether the government or the opposition, to approach matters of national import with the sole objective of resolving them in line with the demands of national interests.