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EditorialA challenge of PTI’s long march

A challenge of PTI’s long march

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is all set to embark on yet another ‘long march’ towards Islamabad from May 25. Most probably, the ‘long march’ will convert into a sit-in and claims are there that it will continue till the acceptance of the main demands of the former ruling party i.e., dissolution of assemblies and a date for general elections. Day-by-day political situation is getting tense in the country as pitched battles have already started between the PTI workers and the police in major cities. The PTI has given a call for a ‘massive’ protest in Islamabad, aimed at forcing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to step down and dissolve the assemblies, paving the way for the new general elections. Earlier, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N had faced the wrath of the PTI during its 126-day sit-in back in 2014, which culminated without any result. However, this time, the PTI leadership has expressed its determination to ‘achieve’ its demands even at the cost of their lives. According to the PTI, the formation of the current government is based on a ‘conspiracy’ hatched by the US for a ‘regime change’ and the PTI is staging the sit-in to thwart ‘foreign interference’ once and for all.

Another important point raised by the PTI leadership is that the military establishment has been clearly asked to stay ‘neutral’ during the protest, which can take an ‘ugly’ turn any time. Thus, the PTI’s ‘long march’ is posing a ‘challenge’ not only to the incumbent government but also to the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and the military establishment. Holding a ‘peaceful’ protest is the constitutional right of every citizen and the government should not deprive ‘political’ workers and leaders from excercising this right, but it has become a history in Pakistan that such protests create more unrest, violence and economic instability. Currently, the government is stating that Imran Khan’s ‘long march’ has no importance while a panic is being created through the use of force to stop Imran Khan from leading the protest march. Instead of using coercive methods, the coalition government needs to engage the PTI leadership in dialogue for resolving the present deadlock. The top leadership of the PML-N should come forward and engage the PTI in talks for a peaceful resolution of all the issues. The government has already faced the implementation of Imran Khan’s last ‘threat’ during his 126-day sit-in in Islamabad, and if it deems Khan’s fresh protest call as mere bombast, there may be nothing but ‘chaos’ in Islamabad in the coming days.

On his part, the PTI chief needs to demonstrate some patience and adopt a peaceful way of protest instead of endangering the country’s security and economy. Any protest that may turn violent – keeping large, impassioned crowds peaceful can be a tad tricky at times – is not in the interests of the country. Nobody should try to derail the system because the masses become the ultimate sufferers of the misadventures of some politicians. All political parties should focus on tackling the challenges faced by the country and its people in a rational manner. Protests and agitation only dampen the economy and common citizens get affected by these rallies. Both the sides should take pity on the masses and get in touch for the resolution of the issues. It would be better for the coalition government to get the PTI leadership engaged in talks and find a solution to end the ‘political’ crisis that can lead Pakistan to more chaos.

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