Azadi March

Despite the PML-N government’s announcement to hold two-weeks long Independence Day celebrations across the country and at D-chowk, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is still insistent on leading its “Azadi march” to the capital on 14th August. It just doesn’t make sense for the PTI to invade Islamabad when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is hoisting the national flag at D-chowk, in the presence of armed forces’ chiefs, foreign ambassadors, members of parliament and other key personalities. Wreaking havoc while the nation is celebrating its inception would seem like the wrong kind of revolutionary to most. That is exactly why the government has announced to throw a party of its own and plans to gather just the kind of crowd the PTI would hesitate to bother. When two are eyeball to eyeball, one is bound to blink before the other. Let’s see who is forced to change plans, even if by a day or two.

In any case, the PTI’s ‘Azadi march’ remains a massive political move capable of creating unforeseeable circumstances. We know there’s a march. We know who is leading it and against whom. But we don’t know what exactly it is supposed to achieve since no clear objectives have been defined by PTI. Will this long march have any bearing on anything of significance except for a reassurance that Imran Khan has street power? Are there in fact any goals, real or accidental, that it might achieve? The fact is that the government isn’t having the best of its days. Civil-military relations are still tense. Mr Tahir-ul-Qadri is trying to bring a revolution of his own. Certain media channels aren’t happy with the government and they are letting everyone know. All this makes for an overall unstable political environment. So if you’re Imran, and you think you deserve to sit in Nawaz’s place, what do you do? Do you sit back and wait for four years when the next elections take place and people judge you for what you have done in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa? No, you act and try to take advantage of the situation. Nawaz wants rather needs stability. You cause instability. Nawaz wants to talk over coffee. You turn him down and hold huge protest rallies , reject the elections and announce a long march instead. And you hope. That’s all this is; a shot in the dark, an opportunistic lunge. The government wants the status-qou intact. Imran doesn’t. What if the chips fall in his favour? But, for that, they must fly first, and that is exactly what the march is expected to accomplish one way or the other. There is no clear design, no road map. Just a man and his ultimate dream, and he is willing to walk in the dark and take many along with him as long as the most marginal of possibility of turning it into a reality exists.

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