Pressure tactics


You hear PTI representatives on TV every other day saying that the prime minister himself has forbidden any official restriction on what is after all the opposition’s democratic and legal right to protest. In fact, the PM has gone so far on more than one occasion as to offer the ruling party’s old container if needed before going on and on about his usual mantra of not granting an NRO to anybody among the “looters and plunderers” of this country. Yet the proof of the pudding lies in the eating and when it comes down to actions on the ground, it seems this ruling party is no different than any other ruling party of the past. For it is also using pretty much the same tactics that it used to attack other parties for when they were in power.
Now the anti-corruption department has gone into overdrive. Practically every day there is news of yet more cases against not just senior opposition politicians, but oftentimes against their families as well. It seems the authorities only draw the line for those relatives of some senior politicians that are no more in this world; otherwise anybody present is being charged with corruption. That should, quite comfortably, have them in the slammer somewhere while the storm of the 11-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) passes. This tactic never fails since when the most prominent party workers are absent from the scene and instead are being treated as special state guests in some police station in some corner, it becomes that much more difficult to rally workers from their constituencies.
But wasn’t that one of the things that were so wrong about previous dispensations; that they would readily use state apparatus to achieve their own political objectives? Especially when those objectives would relate to keeping others in check? The government has also threatened legal action in case the protests go ahead because of the coronavirus situation. While nobody should argue about matters as serious as this, it does seem that the ruling party is playing every trick in the book to try and take some of the wind out of PDM’ sails. These are, understandably, already pretty hard times for the government. Despite all its efforts, it has not been able to arrest rising prices, particularly when it comes to items of daily use with very inelastic demand – like staple food. Importing wheat and sugar was supposed to work where everything else failed, but that too has been able to bring only very marginal relief. At such times, an opposition gaining momentum is the last thing that the centre wants.
That explains, to a large extent, why it is doing exactly what it used to criticise others for.