The fate of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) hangs in the balance and Pakistan needs to put on a united face during this difficult time. But sadly, as has been witnessed by the poor quality of debate within the Parliament in the special session convened on the Kashmir issue, political parties are not willing to let go of their grievances against one another. However, where members of the opposition have consistently stated that they stand behind the government, the continued arrests of opposition leaders at this sensitive time only makes the government seem more active on a domestic front, rather than on the issue of Kashmir.

The arrests of both Maryam Nawaz Sharif by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and refusal to grant bail to former Minister Miftah Ismail on Thursday tells us that the state has not relented in its bid to continue an accountability campaign against political leaders in the opposition, even when its attention should be focused on our eastern borders. Where numerous cases of graft and corruption can also be investigated against members of the current government – the many inconsistencies in the Metro Bus Project of Peshawar is one glaring example – the stance of an “across-the-board accountability drive” becomes very shaky once we see that only those that are in the opposition are arrested.

The situation between political parties is deplorable, and it becomes difficult for Pakistan to question the detention of political leaders in IOK considering that so many in the opposition are themselves languishing in cells rather than adding any positive voice for Kashmiris. The calls for unity on the Kashmir issue are meaningless if political parties cannot even lay their grievances against one another aside to prioritise on a cause much bigger than these petty squabbles.

As a state and as a people, Pakistan has constantly reiterated its commitment to ensuring that the inalienable right of self-determination is granted to Kashmiris. The consistent bickering between political parties must not be at the expense of the country, its people, or those we have sworn to protect until our last breath. The government must represent the people of Pakistan in this crucial time, and that means ignoring all else and focusing on the plight of Kashmiris. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government must set aside its agenda-based politics and cater to those that have elected it into power. Kashmir is not an issue that can be ignored, and the government will not be forgiven if it pleads for recess to focus on domestic accountability instead.