Notwithstanding the fact that the Turkish ambassador in Pakistan in a meeting with the PTI leaders had requested them to revisit their decision to boycott the joint sitting of the parliament to be addressed by the visiting President of Turkey, the party chief stuck to his decision to stay away. It is an internationally established norm that whenever a visiting foreign dignitary addresses the parliament of the host country, all the parties represented in the legislature ensure their presence as a mark of respect to the guest, in spite of their political differences with the ruling party. The PTI conduct is against all the diplomatic niceties and will send a very negative message to the international community. The party should have revisited its decision after the request of the ambassador of a brotherly country like Turkey. It is amazing that Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who has been the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, could not understand the situation and advise his chairman against this unwelcome indiscretion.
The reason advanced by Imran Khan for the boycott was that since the Prime Minister had become controversial therefore PTI could not attend the session. That seems absurd in view of the fact that he has been saying the same during his sit-ins and demanding resignation of the Prime Minister and when the sit-in fizzled out, he along with his companions reappeared in the parliament under the same leader of the House. Nawaz Sharif was also the Prime Minister when Chinese President XI Ping Jing addressed the joint session of the parliament and PTI attended it. There is no logic in this kind of self-contradictory stance except that it reflects temperamental politics devoid of rationality and sense of proportion. Dragging the friendly countries in the internal politics is not a wise move at all. Boycotting the address of the Turkish President is extremely discourteous on the part of PTI and Imran Khan. PTI regrettably remains an outcast.
Turkey and China are the two countries with whom Pakistan’s relations are beyond the normal diplomatic relations. They are people to relations which have grown from strength to strength irrespective of the fact who ruled the three countries. With Turkey, apart from the historic political bonds the religious connection also lends strength to the overall relationship between the two countries. Pakistan and Turkey therefore have always stood shoulder to shoulder with each under all circumstances. Both have been supporting each other’s causes at the international forums and have always been striving to take their relations to new levels, mutually beneficial to them. The visit of the Turkish President was meant to further strengthen relations between the two brotherly countries, which presently are also in the process of signing a trade agreement. By boycotting the address of the Turkish President, Imran has not only insulted the genius of the people who voted for him but has proven the fact that he never deserved their trust. Turkish President deserved a rousing welcome and unqualified courtesy by the people of Pakistan as well as their representatives in the parliament.
Imran and his MNAs have stayed away from the national assembly most of the time and wasted good two and half years of the nation in politics of agitation and boycotts, in complete disregard to their obligations as legislators. Imran’s focus only has been on politics of self-aggrandisement and he has shown the propensity to go to any length to achieve his objective even at the cost of national interests. He boycotted APC on Kashmir and the address of the Prime Minister to the joint session of the parliament in the backdrop of the Indian threats to Pakistan, which surely did not endear him well to the people of Pakistan.
Imran would be doing a favour to himself, his party and Pakistan by getting rid of his impulsiveness and the streak of self-righteousness. He must learn to respect the mandate given to him as well as to the other political parties by the people. The way to the corridors of power in a democratic dispensation leads through the ballot. Instead of finding other means to clinch power, particularly though the umpires, he must believe in the power and sanctity of the ballot box and presenting his case in the court of the people.
It has been repeatedly established at different forums including the Judicial commission that the mandate give to the PML-N was genuine reflection of the public will and there was no systematic rigging in the elections as alleged by him, which in other words meant that he got whatever his worth was in the eyes of the people. But he still refuses to accept that reality. He calls the legislature a fake entity and yet remains a member of it. He does not accept Nawaz Sharif as the legitimate Prime Minister in spite of the fact that his mandate has been authenticated by the judicial forum and by the people of Pakistan in the Local Body elections as well as AJK polls.
Pakistan is confronted with grave challenges that demand complete national unity and their resolution through collective wisdom of the representatives of the people. There is unanimity of views in regards to changing the system of governance, the way we elect our representatives and seriously focusing on curbing corruption. These are issues which need to be deliberated and decided in the parliament, instead of settling them in the streets through undemocratic means and consigning the country to a perennial political instability. But regrettably this has not been done during the last three years due to the political storm whipped up by PTI. No reform worth the name could be carried out, and even the attempts by the government to legislate in regards to curbing corruption and setting up an across the board accountability mechanism have been scuttled. It is an irrefutable reality that corruption in the country during the last three years has been in a nose-dive as corroborated by the Transparency International in its three consecutive annual reports.
Perhaps it would be pertinent to point out that the PML-N government, even before the Panama Leaks revelation, had initiated a move in 2013 to sign OECD Agreement which would enable Pakistan to seek and exchange information with member countries of the organisation regarding tax evasion and investments made in the off-shore countries. That agreement has recently been signed after fulfilling all the formalities. The agreement would become operational by the end of 2017 and would be a great help in dealing with issues relating to tax evasion and investments made in the off-shore companies.
There is a need for all the political parties to join hands in bringing the desired reforms in the system and plugging the avenues of corruption. Imran can surely play a significant role in this regard provided he revisits his political strategy and decides to remain relevant to the future political landscape of the country.
The PTI conduct is against all the diplomatic niceties and will send a very negative message to the international community.