ISLAMABAD: Reaching the Constitution Avenue by breaching Red Zone was a big psychological barrier for PTI chief Imran Khan (IK) he finally crossed on Wednesday evening to attain peak of his agitation campaign in a bid to test nerves of an under-pressure Sharif government.
Thousands of protesters knocking the very doors of the power corridors in capital. Claims and counter-claims apart, all this was not achieved without background assurances given by both the march leaders as the Sharif-led government decided not to use force against marchers. After failing to nail down the PML-N government through sheer strength of the march, PTI’s strategists are now hopeful, some say naively, to bring the PML-N dispensation to its knees through days long physical occupation of the Constitution Avenue.
It was precisely for this moment that IK kept on shifting posts, increasing demands and prolong party’s sit-in, taking risks as marchers dwindled emotionally and numerically, at times. Still, the Sharif camp hope against hope as IK remains unapproachable. Premier’s informed aides, as they secretly concede, claim a face saving for IK and his party in the days ahead may come through a negotiated package of elect oral reforms, reduction of the government tenure – PM Sharif’s resignation not inclusive. Dr Qadri’s loaded agenda wrapped in heavily piled up demands, may still remain non negotiable, except some surface measures on macro level, in the foot prints of PPP-Qadri deal. Chaurdhrys of Gujrat, they say, still remain the main hitch.
As the protesters stay put, a final walk towards the PM House, and if the protesters demand to enter it, or for that matter Parliament House, will however be the red line for the emotionally charged marchers. The only fear that persists in the government camp at the moment revolves any chances of any mishap, violence, terrorism. But even when they maintain their separate distinction till date, opponents feel IK and Qadri are following a script carefully planned by an amalgam of advisors comprising ex-military officers, intellectuals, technocrats, lobbyists and media strategists.
The earnest desire of this group is to install PTI through fresh elections. PAT, they feel, is a mere tool — nothing more. Even then, inherent, apparently unbridgeable personality clash between IK and Qadri that holds ground till date is still a sour aspect of this anti-government campaign. But the final leg of this campaign may see convergence of demands, through intermediaries on both sides, and way forward by PAT and PTI to achieve their political goal – end of the Sharif era.
Will PTI and PAT combined be able to make Constitutions Avenue even a mini Tahreer Square of Pakistan? Interestingly, any body’s guess, especially when one sees only thousands, much less then promised million each by PAT and PTI. The government, on the other hand, also prepares for a long haul to face the situation in the wake of categorical assurances from military establishment that both PAT and PTI would not be allowed to physically occupy any sensitive building along this important road. Rules of engagement were clearly spelled out by both IK and Qadri as they led their workers towards the destination Wednesday night.
Emotions of Qadri’s captive religious followers, and over stated-rated artificial anger in the rank and file of IK’s rag-tag youth apart, many feel the present scenario may compel the current political impasse towards its logical conclusion – for good or worse. As IK desperately eyes PM’s resignation, Qadri plans to return with nothing less than the removal of Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif for killings of his dozen plus workers in Mode Town, two months back. For now, IK wants to keep the workers charged and motivated, can the hope alive in them , squeeze space for the government to function properly and send across a subtle message to international community that he is going to call the shots in Pakistani capital soon – through fresh elections, but with tacit yet unnoticed approval of the military establishment.
On the political front, he wants to send a message across to his emotional, young, educated middle class urban voters that he is relentless and a fearless campaigner who could achieve goals even in adverse circumstances. In his quest to become a quick fix replacement of the Sharif dispensation, IK also wants to send a convincing message to the seemingly “politically neutral” military establishment. Let’s see how he negates his distracters who think in absence of a visibly thumping success in KPK, the garrison is not yet ready to accept a jittery, over emotional, egoistic Imran Khan as prime ministerial material.
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