After much deliberation the PTI has confirmed its march to Raiwand. What started out as a covert threat to Nawaz Sharif’s personal residence was toned down to a peaceful sit in at ‘Jati Umra’ only to be declared a rally which would be held a reasonable distance from the PM’s palatial abode. In the process the PTI has lost long time trustworthy members and almost all of the opposition party’s support for the rally.
Saifullah Niazi resigned from his post and Justice Wajihuddin resigned from the party’s basic membership citing irreconcilable differences with new entrants who have become close to Imran Khan causing the party to deviate from its core values of being a force of change in the political arena. Both were close aides to Imran Khan prior to the 2013 elections.
The situation with the opposition that was supposedly together on the singular issue of Panama is similar. The biggest crowd puller, Maulana Tahir ul Qadri decided to pack up and go to London to pursue his Model Town case in international courts. PML-Q deemed the politics of sit-ins at a party leadership’s residence going a step too far. The PPP and KP alliances never expressed any desire to join this rally in any case.
The PML-N has promised security and safe passage. The Raiwand march will likely be free of any major incidents of violence if workers of both parties behave. The real question for Imran Khan is what next? If he remains fixated on badmouthing the Sharifs without a comprehensive strategy to gain the votes of the undecided, at best he will face a situation similar to 2013. The party itself is divided as the decision making is severely centralized with the shot callers having Imran’s ear 24/7 while the older lot is pushed aside. Imran should pay more attention on intra party affairs and develop a more comprehensive strategy in order to better compete in the 2018 elections.