The “Azaadi Jalsa” organised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) on Sunday failed to mobilise a large number of people. Despite their claims of outdoing the poor show of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) by gathering 100,000 people, reports suggest that only around 8000 people came out in support.

PML-N on the other hand, was not only able to mobilise a huge number of people but also used this rally as a proof of retaining the voter base in Punjab. Despite the expectation that the Supreme Court (SC) verdict would damage their political standing; it has not changed at all. And a major chunk of the population still believes that PML-N’s developmental policies can actually put Pakistan on the path of progress.

Despite PTI’s general disagreement of PML-N’s policies, they cannot blatantly disregard the support for other political parties in the populace. Parties like PML-N and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) have spent years learning and relearning the tactics of mobilising people.

Their online presence does not equate to the reality on ground. And this is what exactly happened on Sunday. A lot of people did not show up because of the extreme weather, but the majority did not come out because of a lack of internal planning and coordination. Verdicts do not push people to come out, it is the push of their leaders that urges them to join in. When the city president of PTI, Chaudhry Mohammad Asghar, had left the country a week ago and given charge to the general secretary Chaudhry Adnan; it says a lot about the priorities of the party members. Chaudhry Adnan is also a former AML worker, and focused more on gathering AML workers rather than PTI workers. It is reported that three PTI members – Ijaz Khan Jazi, Arif Abbasi, and Rashid Hafeez – of the Punjab Assembly were also kept out of the planning phase.

It takes the right amount of political expertise to use a bad scenario to gain political advantage; something that PTI is struggling to achieve even without grand setbacks similar to Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification.