GVS Analysis |
Imran Khan has, in recent days, been holding rallies with increasing frequency. Since 8th Oct the PTI chief has travelled across the country addressing large crowds in Buner, Peshawer, Sehwan, Upper Dir, Mianwali, Mandi Bahuddin, Dhur Kot, and Kot Adhu, Muzaffargarh.
This sudden increase in PTI’s outreach efforts has attracted much speculation as to what will be Khan’s next step.
Pundits have been discussing what lies behind Khan’s aggressive campaigning. Is this PTI chief’s way to consolidate his political strength for the 2018 general elections or is there an immediate short-term PTI plan brewing?
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal tweeted on Friday: “IK rallies look part of plan for Dharna III episode to derail democratic transition through scheduled elections in Aug 2018 just months away”.
IK rallies look part of plan for Dharna III episode to derail democratic transition through scheduled elections in Aug 2018 just months away
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) November 3, 2017
Mr. Iqbal is implying that Imran Khan is trying to build political pressure in order to force snap elections before the scheduled 2018 polls.
Yet, political analysts have repeatedly pointed out in the past few days that only the ruling PML-N would benefit from snap elections.
Early elections would act as a binding agent on the uneasy PML-N ranks. It has been widely reported that serious fissures exist within the party with regards to who will inherit the mantle of leadership from Nawaz.
Firstly, it would take the spotlight away from the accountability proceedings in which the Sharif family is currently embroiled in. This would give Nawaz and Co. much-needed breathing space and may even present them with an opportunity to negotiate a deal with the establishment.
Secondly, early elections would act as a uniting influence on the uneasy PML-N ranks. It has been widely reported that serious fissures exist within the party with regards to who will inherit the mantle of leadership from Nawaz. Early elections could prove to be a godsend for the party as it would force them to come together and retain their political capital.
Reportedly – at the recent London meeting of the uppermost hierarchy which included Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal – Nawaz had categorically stated that party leaders who were asking for a conciliatory tone towards the establishment could not be considered his supporters. If true, this statement sharply contrasts with the defensive strategy that many senior PML-N stalwarts have been in favor of adopting.
Nawaz seems to be looking to create a louder racket in order to extricate himself from the grip of the accountability court.
Nawaz is also said to have asserted that he will maintain his position as the leader of the party. However, if he fails to find relief from the courts then Shehbaz Sharif will be party’s candidate for the Prime Minister after 2018 elections.
Read More: Iqbal vs Nisar: The deepening internal war?
The current highly charged political scenario resembles a high stakes chess game. Nawaz seems to be looking to create wider chaos to extricate himself from the grip of the accountability court. This diversion could take the form of early elections or even a military takeover but both would serve the same purpose. Imran Khan, on the other hand, seems to want to play the role of a “gyro”, stabilizing the system while it performs its function. The political pressure and presence that PTI is cultivating acts as fuel for this gyro. The challenge facing PTI is to deny Nawaz the possibility of dissipating the public pressure – built initially by PTI’s movement.