ISLAMABAD -  A panel comprising three major Parliamentary parties have expressed its agreement that democracy must not be derailed but the right to protest against the government must also be respected.

The speakers said that all political parties needed to play their respective roles to uphold democratic values in the country.

Speaking at a seminar on “Evolving political situation in the country” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday, the representatives of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), PPP and the PML-N gave their perspectives on the evolving political situation.

Shaharyar Afridi,MNA belonging to the PTI said that the present regime had lost its credibility as it had been avoiding accountability.

He said that the government had failed on every front including in the field of international diplomacy and could not present the case of Pakistan effectively, especially with regard to baseless allegation of abetting terrorism. 

Afridi said that the PTI was left with no other option but to come out on the streets as the people of Pakistan must not be ruled by the “corrupt“.

“We would remain peaceful during the PTI’s November 2 protest but the actions of the government would determine whether or not it wants confrontation with our workers,” he said.  Our struggle is to establish a transparent and corruption free governance in the country and peaceful protests against the government should not be seen as a threat to democracy, the PTI leader said.

PML-N MNA Rana Muhammad Afzal said that when the Supreme Court was hearing the case on the Panama leaks, the PTI’s protest was uncalled for.  The notice taken by the apex court heralds that the judiciary is functioning, Afzal said.

He said that instead of employing such negative methods, the PTI should have helped the government in introducing genuine reforms to curb corruption had it been sincere with the cause. 

While terming the call for blockade of the capital city, Afzal opined that such actions would set wrong precedents for the future course of action regarding respect for democratic norms in the society. 

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar on the occasion suggested that to defuse the scenario of political unrest and confrontation, the Prime Minister should announce before November 2 that the government was willing to consider the bill Opposition had moved in the Parliament.

He said that any pre-emptive actions such as arrests of the PTI workers and leaders might not work as the government lacked support from security establishment.

Babar said that the civil-military relations at present were strained and needed long-term solutions.

The formation of Parliamentary Security Committee could lay the foundations for sustained and balanced civil-military relations in the country, he added. Senator Taj Haider also shared his views with the participants and said that the government should not be afraid of accountability.  He said that democracy in the country could not flourish until equal opportunities were not provided to the poor.   

Defence Analyst, Lt-Gen (Retd) Amjad Shoaib, was of view that the government was responsible for unleashing negative propaganda about the role of the Pakistan Army.  He said that the government was actually up to protect the extremists and terrorist elements by harbouring them in Punjab. Shoaib dispelled the impression that the military played shots on the foreign policy front.

He made it clear that the military leadership had no intention to come to power rather it supported the elected governments.

The political government should also play its due role, he said.

SDPI Executive-Director Abid Qayyum Suleri earlier presented an overview of the public perspective on evolving political situation.

He said that as an independent research organisation, the SDPI respected the right to protest which was in fact the essence of democracy.

“However, our prime concern is protection of the right to movement of the citizens, especially the residents of Islamabad, in case the situation in the City gets worse,” Suleri said.