The drone issue and PTI

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Beating the PML-N with the stick crafted by it

Unlike cricket, at politics Imran Khan has not really been a quick learner. In fact, he has actually been quite slow on the uptake, to the extent that he is now synonymous with naiveté. But as far as brinkmanship on the drone issue goes, in its first stint in power at the provincial level, it has not done as poorly as it is generally expected to. Having taken a leaf out of the PML-N book – enjoying the spoils of power in Punjab and yet simultaneously staying in opposition so boisterously against Asif Zardari and PPP – it is similarly painting the Nawaz League in a corner on the country’s critical relations with the US, while threatening to block the latter a corridor for its immense traffic over the next year. And the PTI is doing all this without putting its own hold on the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government in jeopardy – at least in the immediate terms. To the federal government’s dismay, with Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in tow, it is also putting Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s JUI-F at bay as well.

The PTI rationale behind this protest is simple: our land, our rules. It believes that there is a serious need to hold an APC and review the situation afresh because the US was bent upon violating ‘our sovereignty’. The provincial government, he said, was of the opinion that Pakistan needed the leadership to take a bold stand against the US aggression. By posing as a strong opposition party, for PTI is in opposition in all other governments, it wants to gain ground in other provinces. For this very purpose, it is accumulating support from other political parties as well. Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) has already lent its support to the PTI’s cause. Meanwhile, the decision to stage protests in KP has been taken by the PTI, not by the KP government, thus avoiding a possible constitutional showdown with the federal government.

The PTI parliamentarians are meanwhile reaching Islamabad to protest in front of the National Assembly and US Embassy and Consulate. This too is a symbolic protest as neither the US nor the federal government is going to give in to PTI’s demands, at least not without serious government level discussion between the Pakistan and the US. Even so, the US would like to achieve its objectives in the region which include an end to terrorists’ sanctuaries in tribal areas and withdrawal of its forces and equipment within a year.