- Upset by a small dose of its own medicine
Months after assuming power in 2018 Imran Khan challenged the opposition parties to hold rallies against his government if they wanted to, promising that he would provide them both containers and food. He is now no more willing to fulfil the promise. An announcement by the JUI-F to hold a protest march in Islamabad has taken the wind out of the government’s sails sending it into panic mode. Federal ministers are daily condemning the Azadi March as a conspiracy against the government and the state. Ali Amin Gandapur has served a Rs50 billion legal notice in damages on JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman for making “anti-state and derogatory remarks” against Prime Minister Imran Khan. KP CM has warned that no JUI-F rally would be allowed to pass through the province. Several Punjab ministers are condemning the march scheduled to start on October 27, on all sorts of pretexts, some of them quite frivolous.
Another sign of panic is recourse to fake news through social media in the form of an unbelievable directive to the participants in the march that was immediately disowned by the organisers. While the PTI denies its authorship, its ministers are using the contents of the so-called directive against the JUI-F.
Imran Khan held Islamabad hostage from 14 August to 17 December 2014 with the aim of overthrowing the elected government through street power. The PTI workers then occupied the Red Zone, closed Parliament’s main gate, laid siege to the PM House and ransacked the Civil Secretariat and the PTV headquarters. They also fought pitched battles with police, injuring several police personnel. Mr Khan called upon the people to put electricity bills on fire and get prepared for civil disobedience.
Why is the PTI so upset with a small dose of its own medicine? The party knows very well that the common man is extremely unhappy over rising prices, unemployment, and the failure of the government to fulfil any of its election promises. It fears that tens of thousands of disgruntled people might join the march.
Parliamentarians often take to the streets when their voice continues to be stifled inside the House. The PTI leadership has neglected the NA and resorted to browbeating the opposition. Despite all this, the PPP and PML-N have tried to dissuade the JUI-F from the march. The PM was supposed to discuss Kashmir and CPEC in China. Speaking at a trade forum in Beijing on the first day of his tour he said he wished he could follow President Xi’s example and put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan in jail. Vindictiveness of the sort can only lead to retaliation. If the animus on the part of the government was to remain unmitigated, it could force the entire opposition to follow the course chosen by the JUI-F.