‘Awami Astifa’, or a public forced resignation, is an interesting concept. After the Panama case verdict PML-N leadership is constantly provoking the public to decide. In case of moral bankruptcy most governments resort to such tactics to gain time. Pervez Musharraf used the term ‘silent majority’s support’. Law of necessity coined by Justice Munir to justify Martial Law also referred to the de-facto acceptance by the public if they are not protesting on the streets. Ultimately, the people will have to prevail. In parliamentary democracy the parliament should lead and resolve matters of public importance in which it has badly failed.

Had people taken to the streets in October 1958 as they did in March 2007, the country’s history would have been different. Dictators have to be toppled but democratically elected government should avoid confrontation and seek negotiated settlement using dialogue. It seems no lessons have been learnt despite several debacles.

When the 1977 elections were disputed, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was advised by the saner party members like Abdul Hafiz Kardar and Dr Mubashir Hasan to go for immediate re-elections. An elected politician should never shy away from the ballot in order to retain his credibility. The so-called electables who had been elected through manipulation wanted to retain their seats. The protests continued. As always, Lahore was the battleground. ZAB himself took charge of the city and personally directed the law enforcement agencies from the Governor’s House. Finally local martial was imposed which was over tuned by the Lahore High Court (LHC). He then started negotiations with a team of PNA (Pakistan National Alliance) leadership but by then it was too late. The damage had been done. Zia who was waiting in the wings decided to topple a weakened Quaid-e-Awam rest is history. Pakistan has yet to recover from this debacle.

When the student uprising started against the first usurper the Government College was the last to join the protests. Being a premier educational institution there was a touch of elitism on the campus. A gift parcel of bangles (choorian) was sent for the Ravians, it proved to be the turning point. The insult forced them into action and they become a part of the movement.

Despite daily provocations of the PML-N leadership for an ‘Awami Astifa’, it seems the ‘Awam’ needs a gift of bangles to spring into action. Where are the students of Lahore who will have to fight the final battle? The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) has taken the lead by giving a seven-day ultimatum for the Prime Minister (PM) to resign or face protests.

Lahore is the ultimate battleground. ZAB understood the importance of the city and termed it the Leningrad (Saint- Petersburg) of Pakistan.

He was both crowned and deposed here, that is why Zia picked up a Laborite to neutralise the political influence of ZAB and his party. His daughter Benazir Bhutto landed here triumphantly in 1988 to lead a movement to topple the dictator.

PML-N is not an ordinary political party. Mian Nawaz Sharif was inducted into politics by the Zia ul Haq led GHQ. Today it is a politico-corporate empire with total control of the administrative set-up in Punjab together with financial and muscle power. They do not rely on moral authority or people’s good will to retain power.

Most judges do not touch them. If the verdict goes against them it is not implemented. In his last stint in power Mian Sahib toppled the President, Chief Justice and Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

When he tried to sack the COAS the second time around he was captured. Since then he has learnt to respect the men in uniform. In reciprocity, the Khaki’s are also focused on their core duties leaving the political rogues and their roguery behind.

A politician without the support of the ‘Awam’ is like fish out of water. Mian Sahib has lost the backing of the people yet he refuses to resign, which calls for an ‘Awami Astifa Movement’ with Lahore as the battleground. All political parties should get to gather on a one-point agenda of resignation, followed by a neutral ballot with biometric verification of voters. Protests should be peaceful. Either Nasir Bagh or compound around Punjab Assembly is a good area.

Punjab Police will be let loose. Legal teams have to be ready for necessary action. Once this private force of the Sharif’s is over powered the “Khakis” will have to be called in. ‘Takht-e-Lahore’ will then be seriously threatened. The protests can then be expanded to the Civil Secretariat and Chief Minister’s House located on Club Road. The civil society and the lawyer associations will also join in. Only once PML-N roguery is challenged will Mian Nawaz Sharif think of resigning or calling early elections.

Electoral reforms are moving at a snails pace as no one seems interested. Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) may be new to the country but biometric verification technology has been in use for a long time. PML-N strategy is to gain time and delay electoral reforms. So far they have been successful that is why they keep provoking the voters. It is the law of nature that the powerful act stupid to dig their graves. It is time to call their bluff. ‘Awam’ must show their strength by coming on the streets till the PM steps down. There is a Persian saying that in case of looming death people willingly accept ailment. Mian Sahib has to be cornered and then toppled creating space for an honest ballot for the will of the people to prevail. He deserves what he has asked for an ‘Awami Astifa’ so that we can all rest in peace.