How will the Azadi march end?

  •  The PTI has goose bumps

As the Azadi March led by the JUI-F and owned by eight other opposition parties enters Punjab the PTI government remains high-strung. Two High Courts approached to seek a ban on the march, have turned down the petitions ruling that peaceful protest was a right of the citizens. Despite several provocations by the government, the processionists were calm and peaceful as they entered Punjab after a two-day journey through Sindh. On Tuesday Punjab Home Department issued an advisory warning that the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman faces a life threat from the Indian RAW and the Afghan NDS. Many think that instead of trying to create a scare, the Punjab government needs to provide foolproof security to the Maulana who is leading the march and those around him.

The PTI government is understandably nervous over what the marchers might do once they reach Islamabad. A written agreement binds JUI-F not to enter the Red Zone. However, both Mr Khan and Maulana Tahirul Qadri had given a similar undertaking before entering the capital in 2014 only to blatantly violate it. The government has meanwhile deviated from the agreement by taking action against two JUI-F leaders, banning Ansar-ul-islam without seeking JUI-F’s views and creating hindrances in the way of the marchers coming from Balochistan. The Peshawar high Court had to intervene to stop KP government from creating hurdles in the way of the marchers.  The JUI-F’s stand that once inside Islamabad, the opposition’s Rahbar Committee will decide the future course of action is a source of worry for the government.

By ruling through ordinances the PM is in fact locking down the parliament. The approach leaves no option for the opposition other than confronting the government outside Parliament. The callous and inhuman treatment of the opposition leaders while calling any relief given to them by the courts as a “deal” leaves no option for the opposition other than going for the government’s jugular. Unless the PTI administration drops its vindictive approach, develops proper relations with the opposition and gives due importance to Parliament, this may not turn out to be the last or the most effective march against the government.