How to make APC more meaningful, avert chaos
Negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition over the accountability laws have failed as there is a yawning gap in the positions of the two sides. Although mutual contacts are still going on, there is little possibility of their being able to reach some agreement.
As a parallel move, the opposition parties plan to hold an all-party conference shortly after Eid, which is falling on August 1.
Leaders of important parties like PML-N, PPP and JUI-F have already met and exchanged views on the subject. However, whether they will ultimately demand immediate general elections or call for an in-house change will be decided at the APC.
So far, the leaders of these three parties have been demanding fresh elections because, in their opinion, the PTI government has miserably failed to solve the multiple problems facing the country.
Fresh elections and in-house change have their own implications.
Let’s try to analyze what they mean and what is in the country’s best interest.
Fresh elections will be possible only when the prime minister either voluntarily or under pressure from opposition parties agrees to dissolve the National Assembly.
But as of now, Mr Imran Khan is not likely to go for such a step as it would amount to committing political suicide. He has the mandate to stay in power for five years and will not agree to cut his term short at any cost.
This means the opposition parties will have to mount pressure, which will be possible only through a strong movement across the country. For this, they will have to mobilize people from all walks of life. Protests and strikes are two important tools of such movements and employing them in the prevailing situation will mean further ruining the already sagging economy.
The longer the protests and strikes continue the greater will be the resultant economic disaster.
Holding of fresh elections after two years will mean the PML-N and the PPP have succeeded in slashing the constitutional term of the party that emerged as the ‘third option’ in the 2018 elections.
As for the in-house change, it will be possible only by finding a successor to Imran Khan from the PTI or the opposition ranks.
At present, no opposition MP is in a position to get the majority votes required to grab the top office unless some treasury legislators change loyalties or are made to do so. The PTI definitely has the majority in the house, no matter how thin.
It is also a fact that no PTI leader is in a position to replace Imran Khan as prime minister and run the shaky system.
This leads to the conclusion that selecting the right future course in the present situation will not be an easy task.
The opposition parties, therefore, should adopt a new approach – totally new - to make the APC more meaningful and result-oriented.
They should expand the scope of the APC and, making a departure from the past traditions, invite the PTI leadership and representatives of the judiciary and the army to the moot. The judiciary and army though not constitutionally authorized to participate in political events should take part in the larger national interest.
All attendees should discuss the situation at length and see whether the PTI-led coalition has really failed to deliver or it is being targeted without justification. The representatives of the judiciary and the army should offer their frank opinion on the matter for the benefit of the nation.
In case majority of the participants are in favour of holding fresh elections, the decision should be implemented without delay. But if those opposed to fresh elections are larger in numbers, nobody should be allowed to create a law and order situation in the country. Protests and strikes should not be permitted at all as they would only destabilize the system and weaken the economy.
This is, probably, a better solution to avert the chaos which will become unavoidable if the opposition parties decide to launch a movement to pull down the government.