APC attains more importance after joint session
The opposition’s all-party conference scheduled for Sept 20 has grown in importance because of the events of the recent few days. These events provide the would-be participants enough ammunition against the government, although patriotism requires them to keep national interests supreme in all situations, giving secondary importance to their personal ones.
The way Wednesday’s joint sitting of parliament passed Financial Action Task Force-related legislations, bulldozing all amendments moved by the opposition, the absence of as many as 36 opposition parliamentarians from the crucial sitting, issuance of non-bailable arrest warrants for three-time former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif by the Islamabad High Court rejecting all excuses offered by his counsel, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s insistence that despite court orders his elder brother would not return home without completing his medical treatment are expected to be among the major subjects to be taken up at the APC.
The absence of three dozen legislators from a session when every single vote mattered should be a matter of serious concern because of which the opposition parties must find out from the “absentees” what kept them away from the session. Their likely contacts with the government for whatever reason should also be looked into.
All governments try to weaken the opposition by causing defections. The use of any “carrot or stick” by the PTI government to keep three dozen legislators away from the session cannot be ruled out.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s allegations from the floor of the house on Wednesday should be responded by the APC participants for the sake of awareness of the nation and to set the record straight.
For example, he insisted that after the passage of a few FATF-related bills, the opposition had demanded an amendment to 34 of the total 38 clauses of the National Accountability Bureau law, which, if accepted, would mean burying the anti-graft watchdog.
The APC attendees must let the nation know how their amendments would not amount to burying the NAB, or were not an attempt to blackmail the government.
According to the premier, the opposition sought to exclude money laundering from the NAB law under the cover of FATF-related legislation in order to hide corruption of their leaders who owned precious foreign assets. He particularly referred to Hyde Park-1 and Mayfair properties in London.
The PML-N and PPP leaders should clarify their position and establish that the prime minister was making just baseless allegations against them.
They should also explain facts about the volume – and justification – of loans acquired by them during their respective tenures.
The premier had held the PML-N and PPP governments responsible for five-fold increase in external debts during their respective tenures.
The two parties should come up with their respective points of view on the subject and also let the nation know whether the PTI government is taking foreign loans without any justification.
The APC would be an exercise in futility if it comes up with a routine statement that the government should step down without delay as it has failed to deliver on all fronts.
The participants must bear in mind that the government has full backing of the military establishment and there is little possibility of it getting aside or agreeing to fresh elections.
There is also little possibility of any opposition movement succeeding in such a situation.
Therefore, the APC participants should not waste time on such an exercise.
The JUI had tried this option long ago and had failed to get any result.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had led the abortive movement, wants to use other opposition parties for his own agenda.
But other parties should seriously consider whether the country could afford to go for another venture in the prevailing situation.