The D-Chowk is in no shape — physically, that is — to serve as the PTI’s Tahrir Square for its million marchers on August 14. It is all dug up; in fact, most of the Blue Area from the Centaurs Shopping Mall leading up to D-Chowk is in no shape to stage a march or a sit- in — all on account of the metrobus service project.
So, the best option available for the PTI’s million marchers when they arrive in Islamabad is to go straight to the Faisal Mosque for their indefinite sit-in because all approaches to the Red Zone would remain sealed off, most probably by the army. Any attempt to break these barriers would only expose the troops to potential militant attacks (sleeper cells of militants are waiting for just such an opportunity), which perhaps, Imran Khan would not like to see happen.
It is never too difficult to start an agitation, but it takes a lot of doing to take what you have started to its ‘victorious’ conclusion. The PML-N camp does not appear to be in the mood to concede anything to the PTI unless forced to do otherwise by the army, which does not look likely at this juncture. The PTI, on its part, is still pretty vague about what it would regard as victory — mid-term polls or a full audit of the last election results as is being done in Afghanistan.
To build up pressure, the PTI is also talking about resigning en masse from the National and provincial assemblies. But its coalition partner in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), has already dissociated itself from the million march, without opposing it, though. It does not also want to see Nawaz Sharif going home before completing his five-year term. In case, the K-P provincial members of the PTI resign, the PML-N would readily help the JI form a coalition government in Peshawar, with a couple of other smaller parties in the provincial assembly joining in and then conducting by-elections on the seats vacated. All other PTI vacated seats in the National Assembly and the other two provinces would likely face the same fate.
Also, oddly enough, the PTI appears to have failed to appreciate the time it would take for completing the audit of the entire May 2013 polls. In fact, one does not see the exercise coming to a mutually satisfactory conclusion before at least five to seven years, if at all. And mid-term polls without electoral reforms and/or the next national census? Not possible. Possibility of a three-year national or technocratic government backed by the army is not only unconstitutional, but also impractical.
And how does one talk about massive poll rigging without talking about the alleged role of former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and ‘his’ returning officers? By August 14, one fears, the courts would have issued restraining orders against any such public utterances. The former CJ’s 15-day notice of contempt of court against Imran is likely to end by the end of the current week, after which, more likely than not, he would immediately approach the courts for issuing restraining orders pending the conclusion of the contempt case.
By the way, those who are trying to equate the PTI’s threatened agitation with the PNA movement against ZA Bhutto are ignoring the fact that the latter’s was a struggle for uprooting the rule of a ‘secular’ Bhutto and establishing a non-secular government in its place. Mosques, all over the country, had been pressed into the service of the movement. Both Saudi Arabia and the US were known to have supported the movement. Not this time round. If at all, the Saudis appear to be betting on Nawaz, while the Americans do not seem to have any favourites.
Actually, the clash between Imran and Nawaz appears to be no more than a tussle between Punjab’s two right-of-centre political factions, one led by the Sharifs, masquerading as some kind of royalty, and the other by an autocratic Ultimatum Khan plus a couple of zeroes like the media-manufactured Maulana Inqilab Qadri, the two-some Chaudhries at the fag end of their political careers and the loudmouth- loser, Sheikh Rashid.
And finally, the army today is not being led by a General Zia, but by one who has declared war against those very culprits who had been unleashed by General Zia and his policies on Quaid’s Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.