PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif upped the ante during his address at Taxila, at the first rally of his party’s campaign to oust the Gilani government, by calling on the populace to be ready for a long march. Mian Nawaz wants Mr Gilani toppled primarily because he has been convicted for contempt of the Supreme Court, but also because the government’s record in office is poor. Mian Nawaz’s demands may be right or wrong, but the strong language he used, went beyond the parliamentary. While it might be said that the flow of feelings was such that he could only express himself by saying that the rulers only understood the language of force, this is to denigrate democracy itself, in which it does not suit the leader of the main opposition to use such language. More germane to the issue is his asking what the President and Prime Minister had done during their tenure. This is the question that all will be asking themselves as the elections, due in less than a year’s time, come closer.

It might seem that the opposition is holding this series of rallies with the elections in mind, but Mian Nawaz has his attention focused on the $60 million in the impugned Swiss account, about which the Prime Minister was so adamant in refusing to write a letter to the Swiss, that he preferred to be convicted by the Supreme Court. By promising to get this money back, Mian Nawaz focused on the issue at the heart of this campaign. If only elections were the motive, the Swiss accounts might not have figured so prominently. Mian Nawaz related this to the Constitution.

However, there is a need to carry out some self-accountability. The opposition has also to ask itself if it has done anything to help solve the common man’s problems, which range from price inflation to loadshedding, the latter becoming a pressing problem now that summer has started. The problems facing the average citizen also include deteriorating law and order, as well as a foreign policy that involves constant violations of sovereignty, shown by how the USA felt free to launch another drone attack in North Waziristan, both after its previous attack which killed schoolgirls and destroyed their school, and the supposed reset of relations after the Salalah massacre as well as the parliamentary joint sitting which was supposed to review them. Without a solution to these problems, neither government nor opposition might find it easy to interest people in the debate on democracy and constitutionalism. The issue has got to be seen by people as relevant to their concerns before they will come off the fence and join any movement trying to force the Prime Minister to obey the courts. The people have to see the government solving their problems or the government-in-waiting as having those solutions, if they are to move.