Dharna politics

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  • Now Imran Khan must face the trend he established

 

The same set, same actors, but in different roles. The sequel to the dharna politics has officially been aired. Not long ago, the incumbent government flooded the streets of Islamabad demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. “We will settle for nothing short of the PM’s resignation,” Imran Khan reiterated on an hourly basis. The firebrand speeches coupled with the music systems echoed throughout the capital culminating in the unified slogan of ‘Go Nawaz Go’. As fate would have it, the roles reversed and it is now Imran Khan whose resignation is being sought.

The culture of dharna politics is widely attributed to Imran Khan and rightly so. It was his party which took to the streets every now and then, wreaking havoc while they were at it. The mode and manner of protest is more or less the same with a few changes. Imran, at the time, came out in support of Tahir-ul-Qadri, a man who may not be well liked but was out for a cause. The only mission was to avenge the brutal murders committed in Model Town. It was a slogan which would move even the most hardened men. A massacre had ensued in broad daylight at the behest of the government and no responsibility had been fixed. The demands ranged from the Chief Minister’s resignation to the Prime Minister’s.

Nevertheless, the dharnas did send out a message but didn’t achieve the desired result. Or maybe, the result itself was the popularity gained, only Imran himself would know. The resignations never came. The report of the Model Town incident was made public, pursuant to the orders of the Lahore High Court, but the hue and cry which was expected never followed. What ensued was a precedent being set to exert pressure on a sitting government. Dharna became the new norm. Politicians found a new door to steer the emotions of a common man and give it a direction so as to achieve their own ulterior motives.

It is not the Maulana’s own importance but rather the vacuum left behind by a missing leadership which has enabled the former to take centre stage. Despite the tall claims, it is unlikely that the Maulana and his supporters are going to gain much out of their protests. Threatening agitation against state institutions is not only implausible but suicidal

Having learnt the lesson from Imran himself, the opposition today has decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. It doesn’t seem to be having an effect at the moment but with each passing minute, things could take a turn for the worse. The resignation being sought is unlikely to come; however, a law and order situation can most certainly be created. Though the opposition has signed an agreement to stay away from the Red Zone yet, it appears the moment is not far when the Maulana would terminate the agreement unilaterally and give the order to march towards the Red Zone. He doesn’t seem to be having his way. As established by Imran Khan himself, you have to be closer to the corridors of power in order to get your voice heard and make your presence felt.

The Maulana would not hesitate to take a leaf out of Imran’s book and attempt to disrupt the day-to-day life within the Red Zone. As per his continuous tirade, apparently his patience is being tested and he claims to have a better plan to steer the country out of its woes. Then again, so did Khadim Hussain Rizvi. The question is, when did the Maulana become so important as to be spearheading an opposition movement with the goal to topple the government? From being a sidekick of every government to becoming the face of the opposition is surely itself an achievement for the Maulana. A definite step up in his game. But is he really after the Prime Minister’s resignation? Does he have the nation’s best interest in mind? Is the protest movement sincere in its entirety? These are certain pertinent questions, the answers to which can be taken from the historical background of the Maulana’s game.

For the longest time, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman has enjoyed a seat at the table. A seat duly provided by all the concerned quarters. In his own mind, he has always considered himself allied with the establishment. As one writer suggested, the entire quest may only be to revive his relevance in the eyes of those who matter. The ones who, at the moment, have eyes for nobody but Imran Khan. To ignite the fading love, Maulana has taken a hard course in order to regain his pertinence.

On the other hand, the opposition huddling behind him reflects the absence of much options in the present circumstances. It appears to be the Hollywood adaptation of the Batman’s Dark Knight, where all the desperate mafia bosses who had been backed up against the wall chose to unite behind a psychopath (the Joker) as the latter was the only one willing to take a step. With most of the opposition leadership behind bars and the rest facing the brunt of NAB coupled with a crippling economy, the Maulana appears to be the only one stepping forward with the rhetoric against the government. He might be there to suit his own agenda, however, for different reasons, the opposition parties some with cautious reluctance stood behind him.

It is not the Maulana’s own importance but rather the vacuum left behind by a missing leadership which has enabled the former to take centre stage. Despite the tall claims, it is unlikely that the Maulana and his supporters are going to gain much out of their protests. Threatening agitation against state institutions is not only implausible but suicidal. Even if Imran Khan did set the trend doesn’t mean it was the right one. Constitutionally elected governments cannot be and should not be held hostage at the whims of a protesting group, otherwise the likes of Khadim Hussain Rizvi would have their day in the sun.

The other opposition parties rallying behind Fazl should bear in mind that at the last minute, he is mostly likely to slither away unharmed, leaving the rest behind to face the consequences. In the words of Hillary Clinton, Fazl is indeed a cunning sly fox and all those looking to be in bed with him should avoid doing so for their own betterment.