THE political situation in the country is getting tenser by the day. The anti-government campaign by the opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, has raised the temperature and triggered a fierce reaction from the government. The war of words is escalating dangerously and the nature of mutual accusations is getting inflammatory. On Sunday, while addressing a gathering in GB, Prime Minister Imran Khan used harsh language against the opposition and once again accused them of promoting the enemy’s narrative. He lashed out at them for criticising the chiefs of the army and ISI, saying this proved that he had appointed the right people. The prime minister also dangerously insinuated that the statement by PML-N leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq amounted to treason. On almost similar lines — and perhaps more dangerous — was the statement issued by Interior Minister Ijaz Shah. In a speech in his constituency, the retired brigadier said the outlawed terrorist group TTP had in reaction to the ANP’s policies on terrorism attacked and killed many of its leaders, adding he prayed for the safety of those following the PML-N narrative. These remarks were widely seen as threatening in nature and condemned vociferously by opposition parties.
There is a trend evident here. The top leadership of the PTI is increasingly resorting to rhetoric that is both irresponsible and dangerous. Equating opponents with the enemy’s narrative, hurling accusations of treason and warning of a blowback from terror groups — all this can amount to incitement to violence. It is shocking that people occupying offices of responsibility are indulging in such crude tactics to pressure their opponents. It appears the government has adopted a no-holds-barred approach towards the opposition regardless of the consequences this may accrue. It is perhaps in line with such a strategy that the PTI has decided to hold public rallies to counter the campaign launched by the PDM. The first rally is scheduled to be held in Hafizabad and the prime minister is expected to address it. This will further fuel tension and escalate the level of confrontation. With both the government and opposition hitting the streets and increasing the tempo of their rhetoric, the situation seems primed for some mishap.
It is a pity that in this deadly game of one-upmanship no one is willing to take a step back. There is no individual, organisation or institution that can step in the middle and disengage political rivals before they fall off the precipice. What makes this of greater concern are the charged times we live in. The Gilgit-Baltistan elections later this month are providing all parties a platform to ratchet up their rhetoric, and in another two weeks the PDM will resume its jalsas. Sanity must prevail on all sides before the situation reaches a point that becomes unsustainable for our already weak and compromised system.