As the deadlines issued by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) near their end, we invited The Express Tribune‘s former Executive Editor M Ziauddin to provide some insight into developments surrounding the ‘Azadi’ and 'Inqilab' marches.
M Ziauddin needs no introduction – you can read all about him here.
Below is a transcript of the interactive session held between M Ziauddin and The Express Tribune readers:
Q: PAT’s deadline is approaching fast. What do you think will happen once it expires?
MZ: Qadri will announce country-wide sit-ins but would refrain from ordering his followers to violate Red Zone where the Canadian embassy is also located.
Q: SK Niazi @skniazi7 Which one, PAT or PTI is more of a threat for the government?
MZ: None of the two. Both have brought few thousand protesters to Islamabad and demanding the government to go home. Such unconstitutional demands do not pose any serious threat to the government.
Q: Faizan Yousaf asks Why do you think the government has not used force to handle this chaos?
MZ: Both PTI and PAT have the democratic right to take out protest rallies, launch long marches and sit ins. That is why force has not been used. Of course if they break the written agreement of not entering the Red Zone the government has the legal right to use force but perhaps even then the government is likely to use the minimum force.
Q: And if force is used, what consequences do you see for the government?
MZ: It is a political matter. The government needs to tackle it politically. If force is used then perhaps the government would lose its democratic right to rule.
Q: Do you think the PTI and PAT will combine forces? And if they do, what impact will it have?
MZ: I don’t think they will combine. If they had wanted to they would have done it on the day the two entered the capital. Their objectives are different.
Q: Can Imran Khan be charged for high treason based on civil disobedience comments last night?
MZ: He can be. But he won’t be. He is likely to fade into political oblivion if he does not do something quickly to retrieve the lost ground.
Q: Farooq Khan (@Eff_Am_Kay) what do you think is the future of Pervez Musharraf after this drop scene?
MZ: Musharraf is not going any where. He will be facing the consequences of violating the Constitution.
Q: What, in your opinion, will be the repercussions if Imran does cross into the Red Zone and what does he stand to achieve?
MZ: He will be taken into custody before he crosses into the Red Zone and his followers will face tear gas. This is the face-saver he is trying to manufacture before throwing in the towel.
He is preparing ground to use women and children as human shields when he finally takes the plunge to enter the Red Zone, if at all. I still doubt if he would commit the blunder.
Q: Why was it Shah Mehmood Qureshi and not Imran Khan who announced such an important decision of resigning from the assemblies?
MZ: Perhaps he wants to announce something more drastic when he addresses his supporters later.
Q: What do you make of PTI’s decision to resign?
MZ: Decision to resign from the three provincial houses and the NA by the PTI is the logical consequence of Imran’s decision yesterday to launch a civil disobedience campaign. Imran appears to have pushed himself and the party into a political tailspin.