Freedom Of Assembly – The Nation

Tolerating polar opposite ideologies and practising different politics are only possible in a true democracy. Ironically, the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does not know this. The partys understanding of real democracy is hypocritical. When in opposition, the PTI lambasted the previous governments for creating hurdles for opposition parties protests. Now that PTI is in power, its practices are no more different than those of the parties it once vehemently criticised. Nevertheless, the Lahore High Court (LHC) setting aside the governments ban on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to hold a rally at Liaqat Bagh is welcome. The constitution grants PPP the right to assemble. And the party reserves every right to hold a rally at Liaqat Bagh to mark the death anniversary of the former prime minister (PM) Benazir Bhutto.

What the court did was the right thing to do; what the government had done before was wrong and suggestive of sidelining the opposition voices. The district administration while refusing the PPP permission to hold a rally to mark the Benazirs anniversary probably forgot that it was peoples constitutional right to enjoy the freedom of assembly. Denying political parties and people the freedom of assembly citing security reasons is not a very convincing reason. It is, in fact, the other way around. People practice their right to assemble, and the state ensures their protection and security.

Now that the PPP will mark the death anniversary of Benazir at her assassination place, will Bilawal succeed in completing the mission that his mother died for? PPPs chairman has already hinted at initiating a new battle against the incumbent government. For him, the key goal is dislodging the PTIs government and re-establishing the peoples rule in the country. But will he achieve what he aims for? How will he dismantle the incumbent government, which Moulana Fazl-ur-Rehman failed to topple? At present, the opposition is not unified; nor is there any such possibility in the future.

The rhetoric that the PPP chairman relies on sounds appealing but only to the party workers. Unlike the martyred Benazir, Bilawal has yet to grasp and exploit the common mans frustrations against the incumbent government. He cannot bring down the government with the help of jiyalas. He needs to galvanise the ordinary people. But can he do so when Sindh is the only province where PPP has a presence? Instead of bringing down the present government, Bilawal will be a source of solace to Benazirs soul if he can re-establish his party all over the country.

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Freedom Of Assembly - The Nation

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