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Imran Khans’ Long March: Expectations and Apprehensions

By General Mirza Aslam Beg – :
The Chinese leader, Chairman Mao Tse-tung led his ninety thousand strong army on a long march of over nine thousand kilometer, consistently attacked by the enemy, yet he could reach the destination with only seven thousand survivors, who became a symbol of extreme courage, sacrifice and devotion to the nation. People rallied around them to win the battle for freedom. Imran Khan has earned no such laurels to claim victory at Islamabad. In fact due to his shifting demands and with some unexpected decisions he has made it appear, that “he may well loose the battle, before it is joined”.

The primary aim of Imran was to expose the rigging in the elections by Punjab Government. Nawaz Sharif agreed to the appointment of a supreme court commission, to probe into the matter, but Imran Khan declined and made new demands that Nawaz Sharif must resign and a technocrats government should be formed”. These demands are totally un-democratic and unconstitutional, while there is a sitting government, supported by an elected parliament. The court order has warned Imran that the law of the country would not allow such a move, thus putting Imran Khan on the back foot and liable for legal action.

On reaching Islamabad with about thirty thousand or so followers, Imran demanded: “Nawaz Sharif to resign, now, because there was always a limit to patience and his followers may get out of his control, and the Sunami may sweep across the red zone, reaching the parliament house”. This is an open threat of use

of force, which the government will counter, using the police and the rangers, and if they fail, army will be called-in to restore peace. And that is what Imran Khan wants, i.e. to precipitate a situation where army takes over as it had done in the past, ending up with military take over and regime change. But the circumstances are now different. Armys’ hands are full, dealing with insurgency in the North Western Region and Baluchistan. Under article 245 it will respond to maintain law and order, in Islamabad but noting beyond it, Army wants that, courts of law, the government Imran and Qadri should settle the matter between themselves, as the constitution demands. The Army is at the centre stage of this juggernaut, yet ready to throw cold water on the ambitions of our charismatic leader of freedom and revolution.

Imran appears to have reached some understanding with Qadri, which was not becoming of him, because, Qadri has no political standing, and not a single seat in the parliament. He is mainly an agitator, supported by his Madrassas. With an agenda in hand he came to Pakistan last year, to ensure that the general elections were not held, so that Nawaz Sharif was not elected. Mr. Zardari, somehow was able to convince him to go back, as it was not the opportune time to show his hand. Now he is back on the job. Whereas “Imran is trying to enact the Ikhwan, at Tahrir Square in Cairo, which he is not, nor Nawaz Sharif is Hosni Mubarak”. He has an elected parliament, backing him up.

Imran made no arrangements at Islamabad for the sit-in by his crowd, which by now appears to be thirty to forty thousand strong and could hardly muster upto a hundred thousand or so, and no more. Bad weather and lack of arrangements, would force Imran, to seek decision in a few days time, which makes his job all the more difficult and risky. Imran has made no efforts to protect his “sunami maneuver” from external threats. He is challenging the judiciary, the government,

the constitution, the media, the major political parties, and the weather, at the same time. This is bad strategy, seeking failure. And the residents of Islamabad are cursing, both, Imran and Qadri, for the permeating filth and foul smell caused by the so called revolutionaries and freedom marchers. However, there is a ray of hope for Imran, because we have seen Nawaz Sharif at official functions, glum and gloomy, as if he is under depression because of Imran and Qadris’ harassing demands. That is the pressure point, for Imran to focus, with his bouncers.

Qadri is “in Pakistan with a job”. And the job is to actualize the secular and non-secular conflict in Pakistan to the desired end. The political Islam in Pakistan is not acceptable, as it was unacceptable in Bangladesh, Gaza, Algeria and Egypt. This may lead to a grim struggle, yet we can find an amicable solution, only through the democratic process of elections, filtered through a fair free and transparent electoral process, demanded, both by Imran and Qadri. And this seems to be taking place with the Supreme Court Judicial enquiry commission to investigate and report on rigging in 2013 elections. Hence the urgent need to correct the electoral process, and the modalities ensuring inclusiveness and transparency of the elections.

(Writer is former Army Chief of Pakistan)

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