- From showdown to sustained pressure
The Azadi March has shaken an arrogant government to the core. The sit-in that followed has given it another jolt. However, any further continuation of the sit-in would be counterproductive and might lead to bloodshed. Feeling the need to change the tactics and evolve a joint strategy, the JUI-F chief invited his opposition allies for consultation.
Meanwhile the hubris ridden PTI leadership has finally decided to enter into talks with the JUI-F chief. The PML-Q’s Chaudhrys too are trying to fish in the troubled waters with an agenda of their own.
Both the PPP and PML-N have in the past strongly opposed the removal of an elected government through coercive moves that include sit-ins. Despite their designation of Mr Imran Khan as a selected PM, they are wary of taking resort to extra-constitutional means to remove him. With former President Zardari and former PM Nawaz Sharif both in jail, the two mainstream parties presently find it difficult to mobilise their sympathisers. While with PML-N VP Maryam Nawaz getting bail, the party is likely to take increased role in protests, the PPP does not want to take confrontation to a point that might led to the dismissal of its Sindh government.
The APC is meeting to take the political struggle to the next stage. While the call for Imran Khan’s resignation is likely to remain at the top of the agenda, there are other important issues that concern the opposition like an end to rule through ordinances, empowerment of parliament which has been virtually shut down by the PTI, change in NAB laws through parliament, end to the persecution and torture of the opposition leaders through arbitrary NAB laws and freedom of press and electronic media.
While government change should only be affected through constitutional means, the opposition is within its right to hold peaceful protests both inside and outside parliament. While the JUI-F is likely to be dissuaded from a prolonged sit-in, the parties would like to keep up the momentum of the historic march. For this they might give the government a timeframe to meet the oppositions demands along with a reiteration of the steps that the opposition would take if these are not accepted.