In his face-saving, Qadri has said that he came to end the government by changing the nation’s way of thinking. The tour will be visiting different cities however, and Qadri has vehemently denied any deal making with the government. But what of Imran Khan? Will the exit of Qadri leave Imran in a weaker or stronger position?

It is way past time that Islamabad be vacated. The movement was losing credibility and simply put, the people were tired. What had not been achieved in two months was not going to be achieved with more time, and Qadri understood this. Imran should do the same, but we have always known Qadri was the smarter man. Sure, Imran wants votes recounted and elections re-held, but Qadri’s people were the ones brutally murdered in urban Lahore. During his sit-in, Qadri’s agenda, demands and political clout appear to have widened. His supporters have been steadfast, as much as was possible, and PAT might become a serious political force. He already has the Q league with him, and Musharraf’s APML might join him. Imran khan’s stubbornness on the other hand, has cost the PTI 34 seats in the National Assembly plus election reforms. Being honest and wanting it bad enough, is not enough. He needs to have more foresight than this, instead of being a placeholder for the future headlining act: Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

So what now for Imran, with his political companion packed up and gone? Qadri’s strategy was bound to change. Even though the PTI seems to still be sticking to its one point agenda, the nationwide rallies show that even Imran knows something in his act has got to change. With his copycat Qadri gone, Imran’s discourse could gain more political credibility, and undivided attention. The exit further removes the PTI sit-in from the establishment narrative and civil-military nexus, which weakened the party stance. In the end, it will be a little lonelier on D-Chowk, but by and large, the PTI should use the PAT exit to its political advantage. Qadri did Imran no favours; the night of August 30th, and other incidents of violence attributed largely to the PAT maligned the PTI too, in the public imagination. The rest of the country, the PTI, and one could reasonably assume, even Qadri’s own supporters, should breathe a sigh of relief. The circus has left the capital.