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Sigh of relief for Sharifs, for now

ISLAMABAD: PTI Chief Imran Khan seems to have finally conveyed his warning wrapped message to the Sharifs-led PML-N government, but stopped short of launching a full-fledged anti-government campaign, for now. 
Though Khan would not say it for obvious reasons, people close to him are sure their leader is impatiently eyeing mid-term elections. Ground realities of present day politics coupled with the harsh summer weather of the next few months seems a major stumbling block, much to the relief of PML-N and allies. 
Strange enough, despite announcing weekly agitation outside the Election Commission building till his demands are met, Imran guided his much touted ‘tsunami’ away from the power center Islamabad towards the settled environs of central Punjab. Opponents immediately claimed he has diluted the euphoria as the latest episode of ‘tsunami’ never came close to the pre-election gatherings Khan had amassed in big cities as well as country’s capital. For now, the PTI leader wants to settle in for the election reforms and an immediate and independent investigation into the alleged election fraud. He also wants a new election commission and a neutral caretaker set-up for the future. He has indicated to gather those political parties who have complaints of fraud and rigging in the last elections. Does it mean Zardari-led PPP, Asfandyar-led ANP, Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led JUI, and Altaf Bhai-led MQM? Jamaat-e-Islami is already his ally, and, strangely enough, it only sent a low-level delegation to the PTI moot. Who else will gather round him?
A stone’s throw away from the center of power, Khan adopted a somewhat conciliatory tone. While focusing on corruption, inflation, load shedding and everything else under the sun, he stopped short of addressing the issue of Taliban peace talks he has always termed number one problem of the country. This was the top most converging point the PTI enjoyed with its political rival, the PML-N, during the last one year. The same Khan and the PTI lot avoided to mention in their speeches, perhaps after gauging the mood of the military establishment in the wake of latest TTP attacks and end of ceasefire the organisation announced last month.
For the time being, as a political leader who landed his party with second highest popular votes in the last general election, Khan seems to have applied a much-needed reality check to his unbridled-cum-politically confused agitation strategy unfolded a few days back. His opponents think he was lured into a rosy picture of imminent change at the national level, partly by invisible forces or from those within his advisory set-up who think 2018 election is a long wait. And Imran admitted this in so many words when he told his followers at the D-Chowk that he was ‘getting bored’ since May 11 last year. 
Lately, he seemed to have been overwhelmed by the recent civil-military tensions coupled with a large media group-top secret agency episode continuing till date. But in absence of a credible patronage from the garrison, the whole conspiracy theory of an imminent change seems to have died down, at least for now. It was perhaps for the same reason Dr Tahirul Qadri didn’t bother to make a 13-hour sojourn from the pleasant environs of Canada he told his followers on Sunday through a countrywide televised speech he can undertake any time in near future. But what kept Dr Qadri away from homecoming and carry out a decisive push against the Sharif-led dispensation is a big question mark on his loud claims. 
Strictly following the Qadri line, old political guard Sheikh Rashid had nothing new to offer. In a short speech, wrapped in nothing but political rhetoric, a somewhat necessary political fodder for such a public show, Rashid was still trying to lure in Khan to a dark alley of mass resignations from the present assemblies. Having strength of one seat in the National Assembly and that too of his own, Sheikh termed the current government and assemblies as ‘fraud’ in one go without specifying the roadmap, many think he would come up after consultation with his hidden yet disciplined advisors-cum-political guides.

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