PDM Peshawar rally


Despite the COVID-19 and terrorism threats and ensuing ban on public rallies, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) went ahead with its scheduled rally in Peshawar and renewed attack on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, calling the establishment to “withdraw its support for the illegitimate” government of PTI and publicly disown it”. The tone and tenor put up by the opposition alliance and the reaction from the government camp shows that there is no ceasefire in sight and neither camp is ready for reconciliation. The turnout was massive, which is indicative of the acceptance of opposition’s stance among the public but this does not justify the toppling of the government through some “unconstitutional” means. The opposition should use the platform of parliament and the options available in the rules of business to change a government. Of course, we are talking about a no-confidence move. The government party has a managed simple majority in the parliament with the help of several smaller groups and parties, which see an opportunity in such movements and start pressuring the government to cave into their demands. We can see the statements from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leaders which show their grievances. As the government has lots of resources to win back their allies, the opposition may not succeed in a no-confidence move.
The other option available with the opposition to pressure a government is public rallies. Seeing massive turnout, the government has started highlighting the COVID pandemic threat more vigorously. The threat, no doubt, is genuine, but this was the government which stood undecided on lockdown and enforcement of SOPs in March last when the first wave was taking its hold across the country. Then, provinces took their autonomous measures to control the pandemic. This time, however, the federal government has shown extra efforts on the virus control but when it comes to the PDM rallies, the whole issue becomes political. This is the time both the opposition and the government sat together to talk out the contentious issues. That is, however, easier said than done. The government will be the first to reject the idea of sitting with the opposition. The PDM is also determined to “end the puppet rule, standing on a stolen mandate”. The PDM is an alliance of diverse political ideologies. This is good for democracy but the PDM rallies may not be good for public health at this time.