Or will Nawaz survive another storm
So the final battle between the status quo and forces of change will kick off from November 30. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party claiming to make ‘Naya Pakistan’, will take on a tag team of all the parties currently sitting in the National Assembly, led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The PTI has been warming up for the final battle by holding various successful public gatherings in different parts of the country, attracting huge crowds. Large numbers now are a new normal for PTI gatherings, and the same is expected of its November 30 show.
People showing up for a few hours jalsa and people travelling all the way to the federal capital for a dharna are two different things. Undoubtedly, Khan’s political gatherings are impressive, but if he is expecting people to travel all the way to Islamabad just at his call, then he is living in a fool’s paradise. PTI depends on its ‘elected’ leadership at UC and town levels to motivate people to attend the party’s gatherings, but when it comes to sit-ins, things are different.
Though Khan has been claiming that the November 30 protest will remain peaceful, his close aide and self proclaimed ‘encyclopaedia of politics’, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed seems to have a different plan on his mind, which can be anything but peaceful
I was one of those who accompanied PTI’s Azadi March to the capital on August 14, along with various presidents of UCs and towns. To my surprise, many of them left the march and went back when the rally had only reached Shahdara because they felt “too tired”, shattering Khan’s dream of a million man march to the capital. By August 18, most of the local leadership was back in their home cities.
What is about to happen?
Though Khan has been claiming that the November 30 protest will remain peaceful, his close aide and self proclaimed ‘encyclopaedia of politics’, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed seems to have a different plan on his mind, which can be anything but peaceful. While addressing the PTI’s public gathering in Nankana Sahib, Rasheed enticed the masses to put an end to the ‘corrupt system’, of which he has been a part for years.
Interestingly, one thing which can be established from Javed Hashmi’s blabbering and Sh Rasheed’s irresponsible statements is that political maturity does not necessarily come with age in our Islamic Republic. Political wisdom and shrewdness is a god-gifted skill. With Khan and many of PTI’s top leaders lacking this skill, they need to understand what they are stepping into. Asking people to gather at a place is one thing and having the ability to control and give a direction to their emotions is an art; an art which Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri is a master of. Though Qadri won’t be in Islamabad to support his political cousin, his political activities during the last week of November will somewhat indirectly affect the turnout at PTI’s gathering. He may still surprise everyone, like he did on August 10 by announcing that his Inqilab March would leave for Islamabad on August 14 with PTI’s Azadi March. Expect the wildest of the wild from a man who, by merely fluctuating the pitch of voice and a making a few hand gestures, can manipulate the emotions of a huge number of his followers. He may call for a temporary dharna once again at D-Chowk to reinforce PTI’s sit-in. Maybe, a London Plan 2.0.
A lot depends on the PML-N’s threat analysis and what steps it takes to deescalate the situation. Having a reputation of axing his own foot, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has surely passed the first test of Azadi March
A lot depends on the PML-N’s threat analysis and what steps it takes to deescalate the situation. Having a reputation of axing his own foot, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has surely passed the first test of Azadi March, with parties in the parliament throwing weight behind him. But things are different this time. Khan’s rhetoric, claiming PML-N and PPP feathers of the same bird and his plans to take two wickets with one ball, has dented PPP’s political stature as well.
PPP, having extremely scarce presence in Punjab, has also been challenged in its home ground Larkana, where Khan was able to pull a good crowd which not only chanted ‘Go Nawaz Go’ but also ‘Go Zardari Go’. With Khan’s increasing popularity in interior Sindh, and the burden of the Thar deaths, PPP will think twice before standing behind the PML-N government again. And without PPP’s support, PML-N will be left as weak as a lamb that can’t stand the weight of its own wool.