Democracy is the best revenge. The creator of this phrase in Pakistani politics was the one and only late Benazir Bhutto. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who used to believe that revenge is the best revenge, seems to have undergone a fundamental change.
But old habits die hard. While he refrained from applying the dirty tricks of 1990s, he failed to be humble in dealing with political allies and adversaries.
Decisions on the basis of emotions or fear are not decisions at all. Add a pinch of ego, and that will make a perfect recipe for disaster. The real enemy of Nawaz Sharif is Nawaz Sharif himself. Still grappling with his own ego, he made decisions on the basis of emotions and fear in the first year of power.
[quote]Imran Khan has wagered everything in the hand he plays on August 14[/quote]
Surrounded by opportunists and sycophants, he shrugged off Imran Khan’s demand of opening four National Assemblies constituencies for investigation against the alleged rigging. He was also scared that it might generate a snowball effect. Meanwhile, the sweeping victory in 2013 general elections made him decide he must stay unchallenged until 2018.
The audit and re-election in four or more constituencies would take several months if not years. It would have given the prime minister and his cabinet a much-needed breathing space.
In the run-up to government formation, the PML-N strategists advised the prime minister to let Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) form a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. They argued it would suck Imran Khan’s energies and shift his focus from the real power centre – Punjab. It was a smart move but had to be supplemented by several subsequent moves on the chessboard. They simply failed to turn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa into Imran Khan’s Waterloo.
The severity of PTI’s demands increased day by day. And when Tahirul Qadri returned for his so-called Green Revolution, the prime minister’s advisors conceived another hypothesis. They thought if Qadri’s so-called Green Revolution and PTI’s so-called Azadi March converge at some point, it would politically damage Imran Khan. Having seen their dream materialize, they now strongly believe the crisis would pass without fatal injuries to the PML-N government.
It is true to some extent. A few senior PTI leaders were wary of what transpired from fiery speeches of Tahirul Qadri. The PAT-PTI alliance is what Tahirul Qadri is looking for to dislodge the Nawaz government. The two protesting parties have a common goal of getting rid of the government. It makes them an odd couple with very little similarities. The enemy is common, but broader objectives and goals aren’t.
They are poles apart what to do next.
A senior PTI leader said Tahirul Qadri’s expected inclusion in PTI’s Azadi March would harm their cause. Besides, the government would indiscriminately deal with the workers of both the PTI and PAT if they march towards Islamabad together.
They disapprove of the recent statements of Tahirul Qadri. “I had said they should kill Imran Khan and I if we turn back from our great mission,” explained a sober Tahirul Qadri last Monday. A day ago, on while commemorating his ‘Martyrs Day’, he was not specific. Charged with emotions, he had told his followers to kill anyone who would turn back.
[quote]Tahirul Qadri has nothing to lose and that makes him dangerous[/quote]
He gave them the license to kill the male members of the ruling Sharif family in case he was killed. A few awestruck leaders of the PTI momentarily realized they were doomed.
Tahirul Qadri had suggested to PTI provincial leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed that Imran Khan should join him in his bulletproof container, according to my sources. He also wanted Sheikh Rashid, the Chaudhry brothers and other like-minded politicians to storm Islamabad while traveling with him in his container.
The PTI leader refused to take that message to his chairman. He informed the PAT chief that Imran Khan would rebuke him when he listens to all this.
Tahirul Qadri has nothing to lose and that makes him dangerous.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan have high stakes in the game and that makes them vulnerable. While Qadri is setting the mood and the news agenda, the PML-N sounds defensive and apologetic and the PTI fears its legitimate campaign is being hijacked.
Pakistan is bracing for a different type of Independence Day this year. To prove their patriotism, the warring parties are accusing each other of dishonesty.
Imran Khan has wagered everything in the hand he plays on August 14. The PML-N ministers are accusing him of becoming the B-team of Tahirul Qadri. The campaign to discredit PTI’s Azadi March dominates the public and media spheres.
Analysts Shahzad Chaudhry and Hamid Mir say the only way out for the government is to allow Imran Khan to reach Islamabad and negotiate with them when he is there. Any attempt to stop the march with force will backfire. And although the army chief is not likely to act like Gen Musharraf, he may act like Gen Kakar.