The protests and the government


And endgame of the endgame?

How the N league has had to wriggle to avoid the axe; especially from protests it ruled out as insignificant from the beginning. PTI was the only proper political party agitating. And the core demand, that the PM accept one party’s verdict on the election from a year ago, and resign in shame, did seem a little far-fetched. But two weeks into the Khan-Qadri sit-in and they weren’t laughing anymore. There was even chatter doing the rounds in Islamabad, at a point, that the prime minister might actually go. Conspiracy theories spoke of the military finally ‘raising the finger’, of dissension within the ruling party, of a realisation that Imran had taken them to the cleaners and finished their credibility. Yet the opposition sided with the PM – even if the PPP relished in taking a few jabs in the process – and the military clearly ruled out any interference. For all intents and purposes, the protests seemed to have fizzled out.

Yet the government is still forced into round after round of negotiations. And, for some reason, it continues to keep some space between its promises and actions, continuing to give the dharnas more reasons not to trust them. Initially they talked about accepting five-and-a-half out of PTI’s six demands. But it soon became clear that while they had agreed to a lot verbally – like putting a 30-day time limit on the probe – things would turn out different, repeatedly, when written documents were exchanged – like leaving the probe open ended. Even Ishaq Dar’s latest, that an agreement is again close, finds no confirmation with the other side. Who, then, are they posturing for? And what demands does Khan’s team look to settle on, especially since the chairman is still thundering about nothing doing without the resignation?

Surely, by now much of what could be said, and offered, is done a number of times already; verbally and in written form. All sides must also be aware of limits others can be pushed to. And since politics is the art of the possible, and this is the biggest political debate at the moment, it behooves the government and its opponents to exhibit a degree of political maturity and finally end the endgame that has been lingering for a good two weeks now. PTI must be more flexible in its terms for the probe. And the government must now be willing to take responsibility if it is exposed as illegitimate. And the deadlock must now end.


  1. We know, through experience, that Nawaz Sharif is not going to relinquish his corrupt, manipulative ways.
    The demand that he resign is non-negotiable. It is ridiculous to say this is not being mature; politics is the art of the possible, but then again people always say it is impossible till it actually happens.
    To be flexible on this point would be to hand the political process over to corruption and cronyism; this is not what the marches were for.
    Let Nawaz Sharif resign; or let him get used to the protests, and everything they entail.

Comments are closed.