The ‘Azadi’ and Revolution marches have finally landed at D-chowk, courtesy the government and its unflinching commitment to finding an amicable solution through dialogue within the parameters of the Constitution. Unfortunately, neither Qadri nor Imran have shown any inclination to respond to the government’s overtures. Imran in particular, upped the ante by saying that if the Prime Minister did not resign by Wednesday afternoon, he would storm the Prime Minister House with his followers and neither the police nor the army could stop him. Qadri also remains adamant as ever, and has vowed to stage the sit-in till the culmination of the revolution. Despite his rhetoric of peace, he continues to instigate his followers to violence.

There is no denying the fact that these two gentlemen have their own agendas and the only point of convergence is the resignation of the PM and the dissolution of the Assemblies. Their movements have no ideological basis. Both of them are surrounded by people belonging to the class whom they hold responsible for the miseries of the people and elements known for their anti-democratic credentials. Imran seems to be suffering from delusional hubris which does not allow him to see reason and assess the repercussions of his actions. Qadri’s perceived revolution also bears no resemblance to any known revolution in the world.

Media and political analysts are unanimous in their view that both leaders, despite much hyped participation of millions in their marches, have failed to muster a crowd beyond a few thousand. Imran in particular, is finding it difficult to come out of the rude shock of his miscalculations. The announcement of civil disobedience, resignations from the assemblies and finally the decision to breach his agreement with the government not to enter the red zone alongside persistent swipes at a particular media group, are the antics of a frustrated man. He has put his political career on the line due to his stubbornness and dictatorial bent of mind. He has exposed himself as a man desperate to reach the corridors of power by legitimate and illegitimate means.

Reportedly, leaders within his party were not in favour of resignations and the civil disobedience but he overruled all of them. Sheikh Rashid has dissociated himself from the civil disobedience announced by him saying he was not consulted on this. His call for civil disobedience has been rejected by the FPCCI, trade and business houses, small businessmen, the entire political leadership of the country, lawyers and media organizations who have vowed to defend democracy and the constitution.  Even PTI’s coalition partner in Pakhtunkhawa, JI, has rejected it outright and expressed its disapproval of any move to dissolve the Provincial Assembly, which is probably the reason PTI has not yet decided to resign from the Pakhtunkhawa assembly, reflecting dichotomy in its approach and negation of its own claims that the assemblies were the product of rigged polls.  Even Jahangir Tareen did not heed his call and reportedly paid Rs.8 million to the government on 18th August in the heads of income tax, sales tax and customs duty. Imran stands isolated and frustrated. He needs to understand that solutions to political problems and issues regarding governance cannot be resolved through street agitations and the politics of violence. The government has already provided him a safe way to wriggle out of the blind alley he has pushed himself into, by agreeing to form the Judicial Commission and its readiness to consider his other demands within the ambit of the Constitution. He must abandon his obduracy and engage in dialogue with the government and respond positively to the overtures of committees formed and the efforts being made by the political leaders of other parties. 

Qadri is also well advised to abandon the course of confrontation and to stop living in reveries. His attempt to ignite a conflict between the secular and non-secular philosophies is not going to take off in view of its overwhelming rejection by the masses. The future of this country is inextricably linked to democracy and constitutional rule and not the whims of a cult that he and his followers represent.   The fact remains that despite his best efforts, he has not been able to muster the support of millions as he claimed. The few thousand participating in his sit-in are die hard followers of Qadri who cannot decide anything on behalf of 180 million people.

Both Imran and Qadri seem as though they are trying to take things to a point where they have a few injured or possibly even dead supporters to revive their political fortunes, completely oblivious to the fact that their machinations are pushing the country towards anarchy and mob rule. There is still time for an honorable retreat for them. They must realize that the security of the Red Zone and vital installations and buildings including the Parliament House, the Presidency and Prime Minister house have been entrusted to the army and by going beyond where they are stationed, would trigger confrontations with the army with accompanying consequences.

The impasse can be resolved through the benign intervention of the establishment behind the scenes, like it did in the case of the restoration of the judges or by the intervention of the judiciary through a suo-moto notice to check the proponent of the ‘Azadi’ and ‘Revolution marches and restrain them from resorting to unconstitutional actions to bring down the edifice of the constitutional order.  In the meantime, the people of Pakistan must show their disapproval of what these two gentlemen are doing by coming out on the streets of their cities in a big way. In any case, the government must not allow Imran and Qadri to challenge the writ of the government and the state.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.