LAHORE - Reports that a group of over a dozen PML-N MPAs, shepherded by the Punjab chief minister, called on the prime minister at his Banigala residence on Saturday and proud pronouncements by some government functionaries that another sizeable batch of MPAs and MNAs is going to follow suit have changed the political environment and intensified confrontation between the ruling PTI and the country’s largest opposition party.

Claims made by PTI leader Jehangir Tareen in a TV interview that a forward bloc may emerge in the PML-N and federal minister Fawad Chaudhry’s ‘generous offer’ that the ruling party may provide ‘shelter’ to the defectors will only add fuel to the fire.

As if this was not enough, the minister from Jhelum has also said that a change of government can be brought about in Sindh just in 48 hours because of the expertise of the province’s governor whom he likened to a magician.

It has been reported that the MPAs who met the prime minister discussed problems of their respective constituencies. Some legislators have, however, denied that they met the premier at all. The electronic media was not given access to the meeting because of which people could not see any picture of the visitors at the host’s residence.

As a matter of principle, the prime minister of Naya Pakistan , shunning the past practice, should act like the ‘mother’ of all legislators irrespective of their political affiliations and use all resources at his disposal to resolve the problems of their constituencies. He should not discriminate between the treasury and the opposition legislators for the sake of his political interests.

Assertions that a forward bloc may emerge pretty soon are simply abominable. The ruling party should stop projecting this like an achievement.

The prime minister should set healthy precedents which should be matter of great pride for his party and helpful in improving the country’s image at the international level. There should be no room for dirty old tactics in ‘Naya Pakistan’.

Creation of a forward bloc in an opposition party means promoting hypocrisy and opportunism. The members of such a bloc are considered part of their parent party but in parliament they support the rulers. They distance themselves from the policies of their party – in return for the benefits they receive for themselves or their constituencies.

Such blocs were created in the past too to serve some momentary interests. But there should be no room for them now. If the PTI goes ahead with this unenviable practice, then as a matter of principle it should have no objection if its own legislators sell their loyalties to the higher bidders whoever they are.

An important lesson of history is that the prime minister should not underestimate his political rivals. The PML-N and PPP bosses, facing references of assets beyond means, have enough money to purchase the loyalties of the PTI legislators.

Pragmatism demands that the PTI leadership should not waste time creating new forward blocs. It should focus on stabilizing economy, which is going down with the passage of time in spite of a variety of measures taken by the government to control the slide. Peaceful conditions are the foremost requirement for this purpose. The ruling party should not provide any excuse to the opposition parties to come on streets.

Already protests and strikes have started as a result of new taxes and increase in power and gas tariffs. Senior leaders of various opposition parties would be meeting in Islamabad today under the chairmanship of Maulana Fazlur Rehman to discuss the situation and work out future strategy. The Rehbar Committee, the body constituted after the June 26 APC, will try to exploit the situation to bring down the government at the earliest.

The PTI would get nothing by trying to dislodge the PPP government in Sindh. If Imran Khan resolves problems of the remaining three provinces, next time the people of Sindh would also like to see this party in power in this province. And extending the PTI rule across the country through electoral process is much better option than opening new fronts with unpredictable results.