Like an unstoppable tsunami, created by an underground earthquake in the deep depths of an ocean, the threat of a human tsunami, flooding the quiet streets of Islamabad on the 14th of August, seems to be unstoppable.
But then, as my friend, Max has pointed out, there have been many threats of tsunamis in the past, which turned out to be mere ripples, so one should not presume that this would be any different.
The government, its top ministers and other political party leaders, have tried, in every way, to persuade the PTI leader, Imran Khan and Dr. Tahirul-Qadri, Chairman PAT, to postpone or reschedule their march to another date, so that it does not clash with the government’s Quame Azadi celebrations.
But both leaders have dug in their heels, as they smell blood and see this as an ideal opportunity to remove the government and demand mid-term elections, which many political analysts feel is just wishful thinking on their part. So we have three political leaders, jostling for the top slot on 14th August. On the government’s side we have the placid and expressionless Prime Minister, while from the opposition’s side, we have Imran Khan, with his flaying hands, complaining about his usual mundane poll rigging in the last elections.
And in contrast, we have the fiery, finger waving and charismatic Dr. Tahirul Qadri, with his more realistic and rational demand for electoral reforms, strict enforcement of “Articles 3, 9, 37, 38, 39, 40, 218, 62, 254 and others, which call for holding elections after ending all discriminations, violence, efforts for buying votes of Biradaris, ensuring security of people, social justice to all, impartial and threat-free voting, balance in distribution of wealth, ending corruption, discouraging sale of party tickets and banning the entry of corrupt politicians and tax defaulters into the corridors of power.”
Dr. TQ has also demanded that the above Articles should be enforced in letter and in spirit and the disqualification of all those parliamentarians who have violated the laws of the country and has given Islamabad three weeks to announce an independent interim government, which could hold fair and transparent elections within 90 days or more if required, for the sake of meeting all mandatory constitutional conditions and obligations, in order to have an honest, sincere and trustworthy leadership to steer the country out of crises under a real democratic system.
No doubt, these demands make sense, but they seem to be a tall order, for given the present state of affairs, as at the moment, no trustworthy leader is visible and I doubt if any of the present parliamentarians will endorse or support these demands, for obvious reasons. Rejecting a perception that he was working on an agenda of delaying elections, toppling the democratically elected government and paving way for another military takeover in the country, he stated:
“Today before this huge crowd, which is reflecting a mini-Pakistan at Minar-i-Pakistan, I say under oath that no-one from the military establishment, politicians, international power corridors has supported me or my party directly or indirectly to organize this event for a military takeover, packing up the government or democracy or violating the Constitution of Pakistan”.
“We have staged this show on our own with the donation of our workers, members and the people of the country. Some of them have come here for a real democratic change, corruption-free welfare state and for the rule of law as per the Constitution after selling their gold ornaments or household articles, including cycles.”
At the moment, Nawaz Sharif seems to be struggling to keep up with the two opposition leaders and it seems that the race to reach Islamabad first is going to be a tough call. Whoever reaches there first, will have an advantage, as the media will be out in full force and the caravan that reaches the Federal Capital, will naturally steal the show and get the first media coverage. However, the government and many senior political pundits are asking as to why the opposition leaders have taken such a hard stand on the 14th of August Caravan, as they feel the country is going through a difficult time and this is neither the time for negative politics nor the time for a change in government.
But both the opposition leaders realize the fact that if this government is allowed to finish its five year term, then their chances of winning the next elections would be impossible. So for them, it’s a do or die situation.
Both leaders are aware of this fact and have warned the government not to take any foolish action, as the consequences would be disastrous for the country and we could witness another Lahore’s Model massacre of innocent citizens which happened on June 17.
The ugly and tragic incident took place after a violent clash between the Punjab Police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists, resulting in several protesters being killed by the police gunfire and scores injured.
The standoff lasted for almost 11 hours when the police squad launched an operation to remove the barriers from the road leading to the offices of Minhaj-ul-Quran and the residence of PAT founder Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in Model Town, Lahore. . (All this has already been repeated ad nauseam since the massacre – hence is redundant)
Imran Khan has even gone to the extent of warning the government that if it plans to detain him or any of his senior party workers, then he would paralyze the entire country. Already, the government has started cracking on the protestors and locked down the city of Lahore.
If the government succeeds in stopping the protestors from reaching Islamabad and the 14th of August March thus inviting a violent reaction. However, if the opposition campaign is unsuccessful and does not get the support from the general public, then both IK and Dr. TQ will have to hang their heads in shame. Dr TQ would be forced to lick his wounds and return back to his adopted home in Canada, while IK will be forced to return to the drawing-board with his team of experts to examine why they failed after such a massive build up and rethink their strategy for the coming months.
In the event that they succeed, then are both the opposition leaders really ready to carry the heavy burden of running this fragmented nation, which has become a breeding ground for terrorists, a hotbed for criminals and their warlords and a society and a bureaucracy infested with both financial and intellectual corruption?
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org