So badly did PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his party stand exposed in their bid to unseat the government by day-break yesterday, even their sworn opponents were shocked. Not even their worst enemies could have imagined the scale of their political ineptness. Such was the magnitude of mistakes coming thick and fast atop a hollow narrative, their A teams in the media were running for cover by early morning. Dr Moeed Pirzada and his current co-host, Fawad Chaudhry had all but sent the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif home only a day earlier.

Around 6.30 a.m. on Saturday morning, Mr. Chaudhry had tweeted of the way Imran Khan and the entire PTI leadership had abandoned their supporters a couple of hours earlier on the roads of Islamabad, “Such a blunder leaving people under the sky... whole PTI leadership vanished... such a disastrous end of revolution. It’s over for PTI...”

Meanwhile, Dr. Pirzada while recognizing the element of exhaustion in a long march wrote a long note on Facebook around 6 a.m. on Saturday as well, “..But the way it happened has disrupted whatever momentum they had generated…by suddenly disappearing from the ‘pandal..’

Express News, where the gentlemen work as analyst-anchors, together with a couple of other media houses including ARY, had been providing rose-coloured coverage to the anti-government campaigns ostensibly launched by Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahir-ul-Qadri, with not even a hint of editorial neutrality. Yet, such appeared the scale of the disaster at 4.30 a.m. on Saturday, that both Chaudhry and Pirzada were forced to abandon ship in great haste.

Whilst the calls they made early yesterday morning were the only logical and sensible conclusions to draw after the fiasco of suicidal proportions, I am genuinely concerned about Imran Khan’s future attacks on them for the remarks they made. Precisely in the fashion Mr. Khan accused the Geo and Jang group of ‘rigging’ for broadcasting the Prime Minister’s acceptance speech on the night of the 11th of May, 2013, he is not unlikely to accuse them of ‘puncturing’ his Azadi march with premature calls of failure.

Backing their verdict of failure is an ignominious series of unfortunate events and blunders leading up to the sudden vanishing act by the PTI leadership at 4.00 a.m. on Saturday, from the site of the PTI sit-in (dharna). By all independent estimates, Mr. Khan left Zaman Park, Lahore with no more than an embarrassing 6000 to 7000 headcount, and did not muster more than 15 – 20,000, at the maximum, at the zenith of the march-dharna. Hence, all of 15,000 – 20, 000, out of the 45 million who voted in last year’s general elections, could be gathered in Islamabad for the start of the historic dharna to gain us freedom from ‘monarchy’ and ‘dacoits’, and entry into Khan’s Utopia via the military GHQ.

Next, supporters from KPK including IDPs who had arrived a night earlier (Thursday night) under the leadership of his Chief Minister in KPK, were abandoned by the Chief Minister and left to fend for themselves all night on the capital’s roads without any boarding or lodging arrangements, for the comfort of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad. Reportedly, many of those left in disgust the next morning with no intentions to return.

But ordinary Pakhtuns that Mr. Khan holds so dear and on whose lives he politicked at election time, and the people from Tribal areas he campaigned on the back of before May 2013 elections, never really had a chance if you consider what he did to Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed. Mr. Rasheed was riding in Mr. Khan’s car when he reached Islamabad. He is an Azadi coalition partner of Mr. Khan’s, and has been supporting his every call with the utmost obedience. To the utter shock of everyone late Friday night, a news channel broadcast news of Mr. Rasheed having been abandoned by Mr. Khan on the roadside whilst answering a call of nature in pouring rain. Reportedly, mid-business, Mr. Khan drove off sans warning and Mr. Rasheed was rescued by a van of said news channel. I salute Mr. Rasheed, for he managed to get to the stage in time riding the van, and was the first speaker to open the string of speeches meant to obtain Azadi for us. But then, his choices are limited and one can understand that he took the only course open to him.

And then, early Saturday morning by 4.00 a.m., Mr. Khan had abandoned all the rest as well: all those who had travelled from Lahore and other cities who were there for the freedom dharna. Never mind Mr. Khan’s proclamations of doing the sit-in with his supporters, of eating what they ate, of sleeping where they slept till the government fell, he and all senior party ‘leaders’ disappeared after calling on the crowd to be present at 3 p.m. again on Saturday afternoon when Mr. Khan would return! All this without a thought to leaving hordes of people in the midst of a monsoon storm without any shelter or other arrangements. Mr. Khan headed out to his palatial house in Bani Gala whilst the other ‘leaders’ to five star or equivalent accommodation.

Scenes of confusion, disappointment, and frustration ensued, with hungry and directionless people drenched to the bone wondering what to do next – many thousands perhaps were from out of town, having travelled in on a wing, a promise from their ‘leader’.

The icing on the cake came with the federal government then scrambling and putting in action administrative machinery to provide drinking water and hot food to those who had come to the capital to topple it. With this rather unusual stroke of good sense, the PMLN scored much opportunistic political capital, whilst at the same time rubbing the PTI’s nose in the dirt.

Mr. Khan’s followers should indeed gain freedom after this experience. If they’re lucky they will become free from mirages he erects, from the ever broken promises he makes, from the false narratives he clothes his petulant grab for power in, and from delusions about his intentions and abilities.

To be continued..

The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.