The politics of Sit-ins

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Naeem Kandwal
The politics of sit-ins has been on the rise in Pakistan for some years now. The history of the practice of anti-government movement is not very old. It started in the previous PML-N government. It would not be wrong to say that the current ruling party PTI is the founder of sit-in politics in Pakistan. This time the Pakistan Democratic Movement is holding rallies and protests against the government in different cities. The question arises: What is PDM? and why is it protesting? The Pakistan Democratic Movement or PDM, is a political Revolutionary movement of political parties in Pakistan against the government of Imran Khan. It is a coalition of 11 political parties. It is led by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, the leader of the Islamist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and supported by the two parties who have previously led Pakistani politics, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party. PDM claimed that the 2018 Pakistani general election, which was won by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was rigged. The PDM movement has taken a new turn. The PDM is now demanding that the ECP bring the case against the PTI to a final conclusion. The foreign funding case against the PTI was filed in November 2014 by Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the party. The case relates to allegations of undisclosed foreign funding of the PTI. Pakistan Democratic Movement protested on Tuesday outside the Election Commission of Pakistan office in the capital against delayed proceedings in the foreign funding case against PTI. Addressing the protest  rally, PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan had received funding from Israel and India. “He (PM Imran Khan) has attempted to delay the proceedings 30 times. If you weren’t involved in theft, then why did you ask for the proceedings to be delayed?” she asked. The ECP failure has become a “punishment” for the people, she said, asking why when the Results Transmission System (RTS) was disrupted, did the ECP not take notice. Slamming the ECP, she said that if an “incompetent” person was made the ruler by “robbing people’s votes”, then why did the institution not speak up. “Inflation is rampant today,” she added. PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal, PPP’s Raja Pervez Ashraf, PKMAP’s Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Akhtar Mengal addressed the crowd in turn. Pakistan’s interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said only 3,000 people attended the PDM protest. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has strongly rejected Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)’s protest and criticism against delayed investigation of the foreign funding case against PTI. Responding to the PDM’s protest, the Election Commission said that the national body was fully aware of its constitutional and legal responsibilities and it would not come under any pressurs. ECP said that despite the coronavirus pandemic, lawyers’ engagements and the retirement of a committee member, progress was made on the foreign funding case. Moreover, the scrutiny committee has been directed to meet three days a week. The statement said that the Commission was ready to hold general elections, senate elections, local government and by-elections. ECP also announced that the foreign funding case would soon be brought to a logical conclusion. The politics of sit-ins and protest have done a lot of damage to Pakistan. All the political activists sitting on the PDM stage spoke only of their own interests. No one spoke of national interests. Inflation is on the rise in Pakistan. Unemployment is rising day by day. The politics of interests has weakened our country. Opposition leaders have announced a long march towards Islamabad. All political activists are only talking about their power. The politics of interests have destroyed the living standards of the people. Unfortunately, the politics of sit-ins, conspiracies and accusations have become Pakistan’s destiny. Both the opposition and the government are unaware of their responsibilities. The role of the opposition is very important in a state. The job of the opposition is to help the government in all matters. The job of the opposition is to point out the wrong and anti-people actions of the government. But both the opposition and the government seem to be failing in their duties. On the one hand, the opposition is pursuing a policy of protest and accusation, on the other hand, the government is not serious about talking to the opposition. The government and the opposition are the two main pillars of the state. In this conflict between the government and the opposition, only the poor people are being harmed, which is a moment of reflection. In this battle of the elite, only the poor are losing.