The Jamaat Islami held a sit-in on the Ferozepur Road in Lahore on Sunday, to protest the policies of the government, and the address to the sit-in of Jamaat Amir Syed Munawar Hassan did not just reiterate the many economic problems of the country, though he did speak of inflation and unemployment; he also spoke of the subjugation of Pakistan by the USA. On this theme, Syed Munawar blamed the memo at the heart of the memogate affair on the Gilani government, and demanded that those responsible for it should be stood in the dock. This reflects the questions in the mind of the people, which not only wants a thorough investigation into the matter, but also wants those responsible to be suitably prosecuted. Syed Munawar also targeted the PML-N, not sparing Mian Nawaz Sharif in his criticism, accusing him of being the same as the PPP, and not improving despite repeated turns in office.

Syed Munawar also warned the military that if it attempted to impose martial law, the Jamaat would be at the forefront of the resistance, a sign it was dealing with a public opinion that frowned on military rule. This may be considered significant, for the Jamaat’s recent history is one of support for military rulers, especially against the PPP. By predicting that Mian Nawaz would benefit from President Zardari’s mistakes, he seemed to subscribe to the view that the PML-N would win the next election. This is not an analysis that factors in the PTI, which is verging on an alliance with the Jamaat. By saying that the Prime Minister’s speech in the National Assembly proved that the memogate affair had taken place because he had given the orders, he distanced himself from the criticism it made of the armed forces.

The PPP should pay attention to the criticism that the Jamaat has made, and should not dismiss it as opposition simply doing its job. The economic and foreign policy planks are where the government is weakest, even though these are the two issues most concerning the government. The Jamaat may be destined to be a junior partner in whichever government it is part of, and it may be opposed to the PPP, but that does not mean that its analysis should be dismissed, especially when it coincides with the general opinion of the people. There is just enough time before the next election for the government to take notice of the problems the government is facing, and rectify its behaviour.