Editorial: Back from the brink

WEB DESK: What roared like a thunder a day before ended in a whimper the night after – that’s how one would like to sum up Imran Khan’s decision in relation to his campaign to lockdown Islamabad.

One may agree, albeit grudgingly, with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali that it is a win-win for both – Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Nawaz Sharif government. After all, how else you define averting a looming apocalypse? For many days and weeks, both by word of mouth and action on ground the PTI’s preparations were afoot to lay siege to the capital, paralyse the federal government, and force the prime minister to step down.

But, unlike the past, this time the government was determined to foil the lockdown. Indeed, the stakes were very high. But something really went wrong at the Burhan Interchange on M-1 Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway – the KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak-led marchers could not withstand the police action. In the words of KP government’s spokesman: “At midnight marchers stopped attempts to break through road-blocks fearing that PML-N could commit something like the Model Town Lahore bloodshed in the darkness of night. Later during the day, PTI chief Imran Khan directed them to return to Swabi”.

And return they did. Then came the timely face-saver from the Supreme Court in the shape of an order the very next morning that there would be a judicial commission on the Panamagate. Imran, to his credit, lost no time and appeared before the media to announce, that on the “request of the Supreme Court” he has called off the lockdown and would now bring one million people to the Parade Ground to express gratitude to Allah Almighty on the apex court’s “assurance that Nawaz Sharif’s accountability will start”.

He asked the people to come to the venue and celebrate the court’s decision. Was anything missing from his plate before the court’s order excepting the Burhan Interchange experience? The answer will be: none. But politics is art of the possible, and that he seemed to have learnt now.

Granted, Imran succeeded in having what he struggled for and also granted the Nawaz Sharif government succeeded in surviving another gruelling test. But that is a win-win only for the two, and not for the general public that had to go through this ordeal for none of its fault. Consider tens of thousands of people held up on roads leading to the capital, cancellation of inter-city transport and ambulances stuck in the milling crowds. And no less unacceptable is the expenditure of nearly a billion of rupees incurred by the government to ferry in additional law-enforcing personnel, and profound loss of precious work hours.

Should power struggle in democratic ambience, which we believe we have, be as cut-throat as a battle for ascension to the throne in the ancient times? Isn’t it a darn shame that at times as critical as now in our national life the country’s political leadership should be at each other’s throats instead of putting up unity of thought and action against the enemy knocking at our door?

At another plane, as they say to every dark night there is a bright dawn. To this disturbing backdrop is a positive development in that the Supreme Court has taken up the case of the Panamagate. Let the concerned contenders for power hammer out agreed Terms of Reference (TORs) for the proposed judicial commission, keeping in mind the following: should they fail, the apex court would do it on its own.

The die has been cast and there is no turning back now. We hope it would put to rest once for all the questions whether the Panamagate makes for a court case and if so who are the guilty and what punishment they deserve.

Source: Business Recorder