In both cricket and political terms, you’d call this a complete disaster. So far, things aren’t looking bright for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Azadi March. Of course, political parties exaggerate all the time. And some discrepancies always exist between the outcome and the claim, but the gap here is simply far too wide to be bridged with sheer optimism. PTI Chief had claimed than no less than one million people would accompany him to Islamabad in his ‘long march’ against the PML-N government. He had also claimed that upon reaching Islamabad, he would make important announcements and spend the night with party supporters present at the sit-in. Instead, no more than 20,000 people (generous estimate) made it to Serena chowk, where Imran merely reiterated his demand seeking Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, after which, he went home to Banni Gala to sleep off the fatigue, and quite possibly, the shock. Party officials had made absolutely no arrangements of any kind for the clueless deserted supporters at Serena chowk. A failure through and through.

However, the PTI leadership believes that more people will join their sit-in soon enough. Perhaps, but 900,000 more is highly unlikely. In any case, it is a fact that the party has failed to mobilize party cadres and supporters, whose heavy presence it was counting on to put forth a serious challenge before the PML-N. Short of numbers and ideas, it seems like a battle it is destined to lose. Some fear that a political setback of such magnitude may prove extremely hard to recover from. For now, Imran has promised to stay put until the PM resigns. Surely, PM Nawaz Sharif will have to see more than Imran sleeping on top of a container before he’s compelled to throw in the towel. This, what the PTI has managed to do so far, is too little and too early. It is understandable that the PTI Chief simply can’t retract completely and abruptly. The government would do well to approach him, and help him find a way out of the dead end. The best Imran can do right now is not attempt to up the ante. The worst the PML-N can do is claim victory and relax. PTI is not the only player in the national games we’re witnessing on our television screens. Not far away from PTI’s sit-in venue, there’s Qadri and allies. And between the two, reside those who must not be named. The marches still hold a nuisance value, and there is a lot that can still go wrong for the government. That being said, can the PTI recover from the poor opening? Will it be able to stay on for the entire innings or will it be forced to return to the pavilion with a duck? The party must realize that people aren’t buying what it’s selling. It’s time to change the product, and what better place to launch it then Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.