The Joint Session of Parliament can be rated as a political milestone marked by the return of the PTI Members to their seats. Regrettably, the electronic media reacted to the event with characteristic criticism that ranged from Imran Khan having been duped by the PML N Government in a masterly manner, to the PTI Leadership reneging on the rhetoric from the container, during the record breaking ‘sit in’. Khan Sahib’s political opponents in the Parliament, including an important Minister could not resist hurling barbs at the PTI decision. All of this made me wonder if we will ever as a nation, discard subjectivity and for once be objective.

What Khan Sahib’s accusers are conveniently overlooking is the fact that he has all along been favourable towards returning to the National Assembly provided a Judicial Commission was formed to probe irregularities in the 2013 General Elections. In any case, PTI’s place in Pakistan’s political structure cannot be ignored and their decision to resume their seats in Parliament should be lauded in the larger national interest and objectivity. The interesting aspect to the entire sequence of resignations is the question as to why were these not accepted out rightly by the speaker. Did the PML N have a superior game plan based on an intuitive understanding of PTI psyche or did lady luck deal its cards in favour of the Ruling Party? Whatever be the case it is now imperative that Imran bashing be stopped by PML N leaders and the Judicial Commission be facilitated in completing their probe.

As far as the Joint parliamentary Session is concerned, it is heartening to see that a democratic process has been adopted to take a decision, which has all the ingredients of having far reaching consequences on our regional relationships. We have to take into cognizance the fact that our armed forces are at this very moment engaged in not only combating terrorism, but also hostile activity along our eastern borders. Sending assets to Saudi Arabia must be carefully considered, using pragmatism as a guideline. This decision must be taken with the most comprehensive advice of the Armed Forces for it is they who will bear the consequences of hasty and emotive decision making.

Meanwhile the world must ensure by all means possible that the Yemen conflict does not escalate and spread. Fighting must come to an end soon and all stakeholders brought to the negotiation table. If this is not done the situation is likely to be exploited by radical elements. For Pakistan this is a golden opportunity for a diplomatic coup. We are in a unique position of strength to act as mediator and facilitator – a position that we must not relinquish. This will require some aggressive pragmatic diplomacy and decision making - an ingredient lacking in our political leadership. However, if the promptness and efficiency with which Pakistanis were evacuated from Yemen and the no nonsense warning to the Yemeni warring factions is an indicator of change, then it is indeed a welcome one.

It was during my post graduate studies that one of my teachers taught me an abject lesson in decision making. My approach to the decision making process must have had its weaker moments for he took me aside and asked me to define the word ‘woods’. I told him that ‘woods’ or forest was a collective expression for a large area covered by trees. “Standing beneath the first tree in the said woods – what do you see?” came the next question. “Why – the tree of course”, I replied. “Exactly, but then how do you know what lurks in the forest or what paths take you to the other side? How can you take a decision or form an opinion without drawing back and looking at the whole lot of trees instead of gazing at a single one?” This was one lesson I never forgot.