Unstoppable force vs immovable object

LAHORE -  The stakes are high. Both are right, both are wrong. If Imran Khan is determined to lock down the capital, an unlawful act, Nawaz Sharif stands firm on his Panama stance with no moral justification.

Pressure is mounting on the ruling party. If cool heads don’t prevail, a clash of titans seems inevitable. Who will benefit if an unstoppable force collides with an immovable object?  Even a lay man knows the answer.

Analysts believe the showdown is going to prove decisive for the two sides.

It will determine PTI’s political future and continuity or, otherwise, of the PML-N government. They don’t see any derailment of the system though, but they do foresee an in-house change if the third force jumps into the arena as mediator.

“In case of a showdown, there are other options short of a military take over.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may be replaced with another man from within the PML-N”, senior political analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi observed. 

He viewed that political career of both Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif was at stake.

“If Mr Khan succeeds to force the PM to resign, it will give him a major political boost. Similarly, if the government survives this move it will at least ensure its continuity till 2018”, he remarked.

In his opinion, the planned sit-in on November 2 will not change the PML-N’s position on Panama leaks. The issue will eventually be settled in the Supreme Court by the end of coming month, he thinks. 

PPP spokesperson, Senator Farhatullah Babar also does not see any imminent danger to the present order as a result of the coming event at the seat of power.

“Now as the parameters of holding a peaceful protest have been laid by the court, there is no justification for the lockdown”, he added. 

Babar recognised it a democratic right of the PTI to hold a peaceful protest and blamed the government for being stubborn on the issue of Panama TORs.

Though he did not deny the political significance of the event, Babar thought that Imran will not be able to turn it into a political victory. 

“Khan has raised his stakes so high that he will suffer a huge political loss if he fails to achieve his set target [of forcing the PM to resign].

He is desperately trying to disrupt the system, but I don’t think he will succeed”, he remarked.

Farhatullah Babar said that the only way to come out of the present impasse was that government should accept PPP’s four-point formula.   

Senior political analyst, Sohail Warraich stated that timing of the upcoming event is significant as it coincides with the appointment of a new Army Chief in the coming days.

“The present system will be under great stress in case there is bloodshed across the country and people take to streets”, he said when asked about the possibility of a military take over if the confrontation between the PTI and the government takes an ugly turn. 

In his view, the PTI chief will suffer a great political setback if the coming sit-in ended without any political gains for his party.

“He will have trouble organising another political gathering in the near future”, he said.

He said a constant state of confrontation between the PML-N government and the military establishment served the interest of the PTI. “If the two powers mend fences, Imran will become irrelevant”, he opined. 

Asked about the fate of Panama issue, Warraich said that it will continue to haunt the PML-N as a moral question even if the PTI’s move failed to achieve anything.

Senator Mohsin Leghari thinks that present situation had placed the government in a catch 22 position. “If it obstructs the protest, it will face outcry.

In case it gives free hand, things may go beyond its control. It is important to see how it handles this pressure”. 

According to him, the situation was uncertain but he did not see any in-house change taking place as a result of the sit-in.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha of the PML-Q was confident that there was no chance of a military takeover in the present situation.

He said that both sides had the realisation that third power may exploit the situation. “So, they are less likely to go to that extreme that might provide a justification to the Army to take charge of affairs”, he added.

“It is going to prove a make- or- break event for both the government and the PTI”, he said.

Asked about the likely outcome of the confrontation between the two political forces, the PML-Q leader said that there was a strong possibility of a new Prime Minister taking oath in the near future though he will also belong to the PML-N.

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