Riddle me this: Why August? | Pakistan Today

Riddle me this: Why August?

Do historical significance and symbolism always win the game?

 

As far as the involvement of a ‘third party’ is concerned, it is ‘possible’ but there is no clear indication. There is no chatter in media, no meetings, slogans or campaigns but they are definitely watching the process, says Moeed Pirzada.

 

With the start of August, the opposition is active on the political front and the stage is ready for the political demonstrations. The opposition parties, including Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Tahir ul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have already announced to kick off their protests from August 7 and August 6 respectively, which is likely to be joined by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

The month of August has its own significance in the history of Pakistan. It is the month of independence, the month when Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crashed in 1988, when National Assembly was dissolved and Benazir Bhutto was dismissed in 1990, when Pervez Musharraf stepped down in 2008 and PTI gave its famous ‘126-day dharna’ in 2014.

Yet again, August is chosen by the opposition parties to arrange another dharna. This time, against the government to accept its Terms of Reference (ToRs) to probe the Panama Papers but the demands of the three parties are somewhat different. PTI wants Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to be accountable, PPP does not want to disturb democracy while PAT has its grievances regarding Model Town incident.

It has almost been four months since the Panama Leaks surfaced, but the opposition at once got active in this month when the retirement of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif is just around the corner. The harmony in this particular timing is dubious. Is there a third party’s hand (or what Imran Khan calls the ‘umpire ki ungli’) behind this particular timing and August protests or this is just a co-incidence?

In case the protests are a success and investigations are held, it would not take long to gather the facts but the question is: Will any investigation ever take place in Pakistan and will it be completed?

To address this question, DNA talked to various analysts so they can put some light to what might be the factors to delay these street agitations.

The opposition has the opportunity of Panama Papers and they will not let this opportunity run out of its hands. First it was Ramzan, Eid and hot weather and then PTI had to wait to frame out ToRs while on the other hand, it was busy for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections, said Moeed Pirzada, a renowned analyst.

As far as the involvement of a ‘third party’ is concerned, it is ‘possible’ but there is no clear indication. There is no chatter in media, no meetings, slogans or campaigns but they are definitely watching the process, Pirzada added.

“The government has built a narrative that it has a threat from military when COAS is their own man,” he said, adding that this propaganda helps.

He said the government has its confrontation with PTI only, that they will surpass. The PTI gave so much time to the government that the Panama issue has completely fizzled out. Now the PTI will have to create a momentum but there are no chances that this street agitation would be a success.

“Corruption has never been proved against anyone in the70-year history of the country,” Pirzada said.

The government has no pressure. It has handled tougher situations before and the Panama issue was easily passed during the prime minister’s illness and surgery, he added.

Defence analyst General Talat Masood said, “At the moment, this demonstration will disturb the democratic stability,” adding that there are other avenues like Parliamentary speeches where the opposition can voice their protest. It is very unlikely that coming to roads will have a good effect as we are going through a fragile political process, he said.

“The weather is relatively better now and I don’t think it has a connection with COAS’s retirement,” General Masood said.

He said the army leadership is somewhat neutral about the issue and they do not want to disturb the present balance. This protest is least likely to succeed, rather it will distract the government from the core issues, he added.

All the major protests are held near the extension or appointment of the COAS and the political opponents try to aggravate the situation, says Sohail Warraich

Another analyst Sohail Warraich, on the other hand, said that all the major protests are held near the extension or appointment of the COAS and the political opponents try to aggravate the situation. This timing is important because of COAS Raheel Sharif’s retirement.

“Opposition thinks if the government would go uninterrupted, it will win the next general elections as well and the opposition’s future will be bleaked,” he said.

About the time taken by the opposition to launch a protest, Warraich said that it is justified as they wanted to make an inquiry commission and plan the ToRs.

Warraich was of the view that every politician selects a timing when the situation is in their favour, this strategy is followed all over the world, saying “Barishon kay mausum mein hi pakoray khaye jatey hain” (fritters are eaten in rainy season).

The analyst further said the opposition protest campaigns are like a referendum; if more people will come out on the roads to join the protest, they will succeed. It depends which angle of the issue is picked by the opposition. For now, we do not know which strategy they will use, he said.

According to the analysts, the government does not have much of a pressure and they will find a way out from Panama probe. The opposition’s protests are less likely to succeed and there is a little influence from establishment.

In case the protests are a success and investigations are held, it would not take long to gather the facts but the question is: Will any investigation ever take place in Pakistan and will it be completed?

With frequent sit-ins in the month of August, it seems like it has become the ‘official month’ for dharnas. However, this year’s march has not been given a name yet. Whether it is Azadi march, Tsunami march or Inqilab march, let’s see if PTI reaches its benchmark of 126 days or it has to discontinue it for ‘national unity’, when Imran Khan’s cousin Tahirul Qadri fies back to London and what PPP does to save the democracy.

It would be interesting to see if history repeats itself or this protest will have a positive outcome. And on a parting note – let’s hope that these protests will not make the citizens suffer in long traffic jams due to road blockades in this humid weather of the month of political drama – August.



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