The revolution that could not happen | Pakistan Today

The revolution that could not happen

What went wrong with PTI’s wishful plan?



It was not a revolution by any means. It was never meant to be. It had some precursory elements of it, some bizarre incidents to fuel it and a long history of injustices too, but Imran Khan (or TahirulQadri) failed to generate the mass national appeal that could translate into a street movement significant enough to overthrow the whole system.

For some people, this movement led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek could only achieve success limited to an ‘academic’ extent; ensuing electoral reforms, strengthen the democracy, etc. But for a vast majority, mainly the somewhat politically aware lower and lower-middle class, there was actually some hope in all this. The hope that the Pakistani people have always attached with every new leader, every popular movement and regime change. The hope that the system would finally change and start serving the common people it was supposed to serve rather than watching out for the interests of the selected few.

That hope is diminishing now. Although the sit-ins in Islamabad are going on despite rain and thunder, the fervor that they once enjoyed is evaporating. From the word go, Imran Khan had attached the hopes of deliverance to the departure of Nawaz Sharif’s government. But centering the movement on such an audacious demand meant success was never going to be easy.

However, PTI has still managed to achieve a lot more than many felt it was capable of. There also came a point when representatives of the government hinted that Nawaz’s resignation might really be a possibility.


There were moments when the protestors had the upper hand and then there were times when the government seemed strong. The latter case, however, now trumps the former. Considering the past few days, Nawaz Sharif looks as strong as he has been since the crisis erupted. He is not under pressure by the military, is backed by America and unanimously supported by the parliament — or whatever is left of it. And the movement that set out to send him home is still without success. The election commission is still the same, no inquiry into rigging allegations has been started and no minister has been sent home. The civil disobedience did not really work out and more importantly the numbers in the sit-in seem to be fizzling out by the day.

The answer to why the movement, so far, has not been as impactful as Khan (or Qadri) had hoped it to be is not very hard to find. Throwing over the governmentis not a task that can be fulfilled by one and a half political parties. Even if Tehreek-e-Insaf (and Awami Tehreek) enjoyed popularity, there was only a limited extent to which it could be translated into street power. This was made very clear when Khan could not manage to pull out one million people that he aspired to march on the capital with.

When you are in for the long haul, you cannot take the fight on all by yourself and this is what PTI, as a political party, could not realise. It has so far failed to bring any other party on the same page to increase pressure on the government. Rest aside, its own coalition partner Jamat-e-Islami is reluctant to support it. An even more counterproductive effect was cast by Khan’s own speeches in which he criticised almost every party in the system in the same tone, alienating PTI further. It paved way for the parliament’s joint session which, to say the least, has multiplied Nawaz Sharif’s confidence. It made his worst adversaries stand by his side and made him the single most important symbol of whatever is political, constitutional and democratic in Pakistan.

But Tehreek-e-Insaf’s blunders did not stop there. When PTI MNAs also decided to make a final appearance in the assembly under the leadership Shah Mahmood Qureshi, it perhaps harmed more than it helped their cause. Qureshi’s apologetic speech that was mainly aimed at explaining his party’s stance to the parliament, whose very legitimacy PTI refuses to acknowledge, was nothing short of ironic. As the whole nation watched; Qureshi missed an opportunity to discredit the parliament that PTI believed to be bogus, and rather went on to justify its stance to the same who had been vehemently criticising PTI and its workers.

PTI and PAT have still achieved a lot. They might not have been able to bring Nawaz Sharif to his knees, but they have managed to bring him to the national assembly.

However, PTI has still managed to achieve a lot more than many felt it was capable of. There also came a point when representatives of the government hinted that Nawaz’s resignation might really be a possibility.

“PTI has actually been successful in using its street power to pressurise the government”, said Naseem Zehra, a senior media anchor.

Talking to Pakistan Today, she said that even though the government appears strong, PTI “can almost have all but one of its demands met”. Zehra also believes “PTI is still in the game”.

Hassan Askari Rizvi, a seasoned analyst, also said that even though the government has the upper hand at the moment, the situation can change. Any breakthrough, such as the resignation of MQM from the parliament, “can build pressure on the government”. He added that “it is premature” to call it over yet.

The movement is battered and bruised but it is far from dead. Whenever enthusiasm begins to sink, Imran Khan reiterates his slogan of “deliverance or death”. As long as the sit-ins in Islamabad continue, it is too early to write-off anything as a failure. PTI’s blunders notwithstanding, Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, however improbable, is not an impossibility. Any significant breakthrough at this point can reinvigorate the movement and pressurise the government.

That said, PTI and PAT have still achieved a lot. They might not have been able to bring Nawaz Sharif to his knees, but they have managed to bring him to the national assembly.


  1. Maqsood Ahmed Soomro said:

    Quite Honestly i really do not like the style of the writer. As what he has stated is quite VAGUE and failed to crux the core issue – Which is the support of parliament, Due to which government is able to withstand the pressure from the protesters.

  2. jamshed kharian-pak said:

    in Ir Pakistan Around 10-ten millions babies childrens no schools! no clean water not enough drinking water! no health cares if place in school they find with surprise the language they learn in school is alien to them! the Zionist clique in govt office is maybe to replace either friendly or by Force, colors are changing everyday differently maybe something in the Making! inshaAllah

  3. imran ali said:

    At least PAT and PTI gave shivering in the spine of the powerful corrupt elite,they can not ignore it further even the S.C looked irrelevant at time

  4. aamix said:

    The author seems to be pro- N league and let me tell you Mr. Writer it is easy to criticize and comment. Whatever allegations of corruption Imran Khan put forward are all true. And who doesnt know that all the corrupt political shitheads have now got together in the Parliament to save this Sham Democracy.. I bet you are so naive of whats the reality. You only can see one side of the picture. Why dont you have the guts to speak about the corruption and ills of the society. Can the N league change the Patwari system, free police from political control and really make better reforms??? Everyone is criticizing Imran Khan for what I dont understand.. How can You change the status quo??? Perhaps you dont possess the vision and you want to be part of this shit system which has been prevailing since 67 years. Please try to come up with much more positivity than this bullshit.

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