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Pakistan Today Editorial – 19th May 2016

One step forward

No time for breaks

The speeches by Khurseed Shah and Imran Khan indicated that the opposition had returned to the Parliament only in the larger interest of the system. The questions raised by the opposition (on the one hand about Prime Minister’s wealth and the taxes paid, and on the other about the money trail leading to Sharif family’s offshore companies) still remain unanswered. What is more: the PM’s address to the NA has raised many more questions that have to be answered. The two opposition leaders made it clear that peace would not last long if answers were not provided by Nawaz Sharif to the queries made by them.

Meanwhile the agreement between the government and opposition to form a twelve member committee to formulate the ToRs provides a ray of hope. A new battle is likely to be fought over the scope of the committee. The Opposition would like to focus on the Sharif family which is understandable in view of the revelations made in the Panama Papers. Once an agreement is reached on this, the opposition will have to concede to the demand for the accountability of those involved in corrupt practices like taking kick-backs and getting loans written off. This is necessary to make the process of accountability look even-handed and fair.

Political rivalry is a permanent and healthy feature of the democratic system. While competing with one another however, the political parties have to abide by a code of conduct. Every leader is within his right to criticise the policies of his rivals. But the criticism has to be fair and the language used in public brawls has to be avoided. There is a need on the part of the parties in power to realise that their policies are bound to be criticised by the opposition both inside and outside the Parliament. Those wielding power have to patiently respond to criticism instead of indulging in bitter verbal attacks or resorting to punitive measures against the critics.

Rana on the loose

What possessed him?

There is no telling what possessed Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to come out so openly and rule out legal action against JuD and JeM because the “state itself is involved”. Surely, being a politician for so long, he realises that his words in capacity as minister reflect upon the government he represents; especially when he is talking about extremely sensitive matters. But, then, it’s not as if Pakistani politicians have not been known to promote their own smart ides on live TV, and then regret it soon afterwards.

Still, Sanaullah is too high on the PML-N food chain to be out of the loop regarding the kitchen cabinet’s plans. It was for a reason, after all, that the party made sure he was reinstated as law minister after the Model Town disaster. So it was either a calculated move to stir up a measure of timely confusion. If so, it was in poor taste and poorly timed. Or it was a case of Rana sahab being more correct than political on a matter of national importance. But if that were the case, why return to his trademark political correctness about South Punjab’s militancy problem? Why not be just as straight forward about the back yard and PML-N’s suspect linkages as well?

Interestingly, Interpol has issued Red Corner Notices against JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf in the Pathankot Airbase case; at New Delhi’s request, of course. Perhaps Rana Sanaullah would remember that this incident drove a decisive wedge into the negotiations. And now, with its ‘internationalisation’, it is sure to raise further controversy. For Punjab’s law minister to raise provocative remarks, that too in an interview with a foreign news service, is irresponsible if not a lot more. This is, in fact, a good time for the government to show its commitment towards settling irritants like JuD and JeM once and for all; not just for international diplomatic optics, but for its own present and future.

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