The opposition parties staged yet another walkout from the National Assembly as a form of protest on Wednesday. The source of the consternation on this occasion was the lack of information given over the recent cases of ‘missing persons’ related to the Pakistan Peoples’ Party in Karachi and the National Identity Cards of Pashtuns blocked for unknown reasons. While both issues are entirely separate, a common element in both is the government’s failure to apprise the opposition about the facts relating to the problems and a disinterest in two very serious issues.

The recent ‘round-up’ of PPP-men – Ghulam Qadir Marri and Ashfaq Leghari were both supposedly close aides of PPP Chairman Asif Ali Zardari – has naturally raised concerns over why these men were taken, and by who. While the PPP leadership is quick to blame PML-N for this, there is no evidence linking the party to these disappearances – and the security forces of the country have been known to take matters into their own hands in situations such as this.

As far as the case of CNICs of Pashtuns being blocked is concerned, there has been no satisfying answer as to why this sort of ethnic bias is being tolerated. The Interior Ministry has issued a denial, but reports of police having instructions to keep an eye on people with Pashtun/Afghan dresses and food habits and cases of police harassment keep making headlines. In March, several tribesmen from Mohmand Agency addressed a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club about the long delays in the verification of their blocked CNICs. The Senate was also recently told that well over 300,000 CNICs have been blocked; of these, 175,000 are awaiting verification by the intelligence agencies and another 52,000 are still to be cleared by NADRA and the numbers do seem to be biased towards Pashtuns, even if unintentionally as the Interior Ministry would have us believe. A fundamental ethnicity of the country cannot be singled out in this way, and the government must clarify its position and fix the problem.

On the government’s part, there is a general lack of information, and opposition parties are completely justified in wanting to be kept in the loop with important issues that may directly concern them. The government’s silence is only exacerbating the problem – the government staying silent is a reflection of its indifference or depicts that it is also unclear on what is being asked. Either way, the ruling party must get its act together and address the concerns of opposition parties unless it wants to estrange them any further because these are serious issues that need to be resolved.