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EDITORIAL: Ugly scenes coming out of the Punjab Assembly all Saturday last, confirmed the fear, if it was still needed, that the country’s politics has become unbearably toxic; and the way it is spilling out on the streets ought to send chills down the spines of the establishment that runs this country.

It must now be said that the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) and PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid) clearly have no qualms about descending to tricks to disrupt houses where it’s been legally and constitutionally checkmated. And what happened in Lahore was just another version of what happened in Islamabad very recently. PTI, or allies, refusing to accept legitimate defeat, stirring up ridiculous controversies, going all the way to create a crisis and then defying court orders, only to still go on to lose the vote.

For a politician of the stature of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi to go to such lengths was particularly in bad taste. As he was helplessly, and very publicly, hurling curses at the Sharifs as he faded from the big picture, at least for a while. No doubt he’ll now look to hide his own infringement of the law behind Imran Khan’s newfound narrative attacking state institutions.

Perhaps that’s why his lament included mention of the courts as well, especially how they are ready to open in the dead of the night for the big people, and so on. But now almost everybody, including important state institutions, is realising that this charade about a mysterious foreign conspiracy and allegedly biased courts and establishment has gone on long enough.

It’s also turning out to be a big problem that at the heart of all this fuss, which is now drawing thousands out on the streets, is a supposed threat and a whole scheme about bankrolling the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan all the way from Washington; which the military has all but called not true. And that smart idea was hatched only and only because Imran Khan simply refused to accept the fact that he had lost the confidence of the house.

First, he went on a spree of U-turns that ended with throwing Sardar Usman Buzdar under the bus and placing Pervaiz Elahi at its wheel. And then, when nothing worked, came this cable, and PTI used it to block the constitutional process, defy the Supreme Court, and now we have streets and social media flooded with accusations against the army and judiciary among everybody else.

Everybody’s at each other’s throats, inside and outside parliament, and the smallest spark could trigger a head-on clash between institutions and civil society and; between different sections of civil society as well. That’s why the cable in question should be investigated at the highest level.

It’s a little surprising already that the ambassador who sent it hasn’t yet been called and questioned. Surely, this issue can be wrapped up quickly enough and then everybody will know the truth, or lack of it, in PTI’s claims and accusations.

The shock of Lahore was the lowest yet that even our political elite has dragged Pakistan’s image down to in the international media. The country they claim to protect with lotas in the assembly has become the butt of all jokes all over the world just because of their antics. That’s why it’s now important for PTI, like all other parties, to accept the result of the inquiry that will come. In case it doesn’t like what it sees and decides to roll up its sleeves even further instead of accepting the finding, then it will be asking for more confusion and chaos in the country. Already, there are too many problems and far too few solutions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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