The mob has taken charge in Islamabad and the role of the leadership has become secondary as the two crowds, separately led by Imran Khan and Allama Tahirul Qadri, have joined forces near the parliament house on Tuesday.
After an initial less-than-expected strength in Imran Khan’s show, the fortunes reversed on Tuesday as the gathering started gaining strength. With the merger of the two separate movements into one greater critical mass, the protest has become impressive and too potent to be crushed easily.
The crowd in the Red Zone appears to be charged and determined to stay there until their goal is achieved. The protesters have braved rains and later hot and humid weather during the last one week but remain undeterred.
It does not seem that the protesters will disperse voluntarily out of fatigue, especially when the smell of success is in the air and is constantly being fed to the mob. The supporters of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri people have been pouring in from all across the country. The mob is likely to swell today.
The synchronized protest of Imran Khan and Allama Tahirul Qadri now seem to be no coincidence. It is a well coordinated move to force the removal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Both the leaders adopted an inflexible position that they would not end their protest unless Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stepped down. They refused negotiations with the interlocutors sent by the PML-N government.
The Nawaz Sharif government has two options: (a) Nawaz Sharif stands down as prime minister and Shahbaz Sharif quits the position of chief minister; (b) to crack down on the protesters by using tear gas, baton charges and firing in order to dispel the mob.
So far, the PML-N government has dismissed the possibility of PM Sharif’s resignation or holding of a mid-term election. This leaves the government with only one option of dispersing the mob with the use of force if it has to restore the government’s business.
The government has been reluctant to use force against the mob fearing it might lead to casualties and injuries like those that occurred in Model Town, Lahore on June 17 and compound the government’s woes. It has been reported that the police has been ordered not to use force against the protesters without the approval of either the PM Nawaz Sharif or Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar.
On the other hand, the government’s inaction would paralyse the government for another week or so. The federal capital is already at a standstill for more than 10 days. How can the federal government function in these circumstances?
The PML-N government can break the impasse by offering Tahirul Qadri the registration of the FIR of the Model Town incident of June 17, which an Additional Sessions Judge had also ordered. The law also requires that the deceased’s heirs have the right to lodge the murder complaint – something which was denied to them by the police on the pressure of the sitting government.
CM Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation may also serve as a bargaining chip to defuse the situation but the Sharif brothers do not seem to be in the mood to leave power.
With positions hardened on all sides, this situation will resurrect the fears of an extra-constitutional intervention.
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