With less than a month left till the Independence Day celebrations and the Azadi March to be held in the same place, Nawaz Sharif has dubbed protest politics an archaic political tactic, and claims that his government cannot be destabilized by protests held by the minority. But with this statement the Prime Minister reveals his ignorance of the democratic process. It is not something that reveals itself once every four years, after which the people must sit silently and wait for the next term before they can make themselves heard. It is in fact, this constant holding to account that is the hallmark of a democratic style of governance. It is the constant influence of the people on political decisions, and having the right to question and express one’s displeasure against the government.

Has the PML-N government managed to uphold its responsibility to its voters in the past year to any degree? The energy crisis still looks to be as unsolvable as when the PML-N came into power. On matters of security, the army’s operation in North Waziristan is apparently going well, although no independent reports exist to confirm this. Added to this, the government’s failure to treat the PTI with due dignity, has exacerbated the issue of rigging- now with the likes of notorious former President Asif Zardari joining the chorus and likening the Premier to a monarch.

Which brings us to protests and the PTI’s Azadi March. What was to be a march to make the government start the recounting of votes in four disputed constituencies has now evolved to a complete audit of the general elections of May 2013. The Prime Minister must realise that no matter what the demand, if the third largest political force in the country is pushing for it, then it requires proper addressing. Protest politics is just the new word for exercising a democratic right. As far as the need for a transparent system goes, the country recognises it is there, but as far as the timing is concerned, the PTI has ill-timed its movement. For one, Imran Khan must look towards what should be his immediate priority- hundreds of thousands of IDPs- sitting in his province. This is his opportunity to prove his leadership, and many look on with knowing cynicism, as he pursues the Azadi March on the capital. Whether he is power-hungry or the great electoral reformer this country needs is irrelevant. How he is perceived now, is most important. And right now, amidst the political instability, the war and humanitarian crisis before the nation, he isn’t the saviour; not even relatively speaking.