ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is again gearing up for a protest movement to press the government for early elections as part of its political move to block the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to get a majority in the Senate next year.

The Senate elections are due in March next year as half of the lawmakers of the 104-member House will retire on March 11 after completion of their six-year term. The PML-N will be the major beneficiary of the next Senate elections as these will be held on the basis of the existing provincial assemblies.

While the tone of PTI chief Imran Khan is becoming very aggressive with each passing day, some of his close aides have again advised him to start a protest movement to press the government for early elections.

The PTI has already made a demand for early elections after the announcement of the Panama Papers case verdict by the Supreme Court that disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Background interviews with some key PTI leaders indicate that the major reason behind the demand for early elections was part of its strategy to block the entry of more PML-N senators in the Upper House.

In a recent TV interview, Khan indicated to come to the streets in December, “if the corrupt rulers were not held accountable”. The PTI chief’s tone has of late become aggressive and in his recent public speeches, he has threatened to go into a protest mode once again.

Some within the PTI are claiming that accountability courts were lenient towards the Sharif family at a time when it is hearing NAB’s corruption references against Sharif and his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

A PTI source said that PTI leader Babar Awan in a recent briefing to the party leadership has said that the accountability court had granted bail to some members of Sharif family, though the NAB law had no provision for bail.

PTI leaders claim that the party was demanding early elections as it believed that the ruling PML-N has lost its legitimate right to govern the country after losing the Panama Papers case. They blame that the country was facing a governance crisis at the moment and facing bad economic conditions and it has become indispensable for the government to get a fresh mandate.

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry in an interview said that some people within the PTI had talked about starting a protest movement again but this proposal had not been discussed in the formal meetings of the party. “We have not yet started deliberations on this proposal,” he said. He added that the PTI wanted to start a protest movement making a demand for early elections. The general election is due in July or August next year.

“Yes, we want that the general election should be held before Senate election,” he said. He said that the PTI was monitoring the proceedings of the accountability court and would definitely protest if justice was not done in Panama Papers case references.

If the PTI announces the protest movement, this would be the third in a row of major protests announced by the party after the 2013 general election.

The PTI held a protest sit-in outside the Parliament House in 2014 that continued for more than four months demanding for an ‘independent’ probe into the allegations of rigging in the general election. Then, Khan announced an “Islamabad lockdown plan” in November last year to push the government to hold an ‘impartial’ probe against the offshore wealth of the ruling family as revealed in the Panama Papers scandal. Khan backed off its November 2 lockdown plan after the Supreme Court took up the Panama Papers case.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 13-Oct-2017 here.