If the Opposition shows strength, will Imran Khan's govt go?
The opposition has headed to Gujranwala in the shape of an 11-party alliance called the Pakistan Democratic Movement because it says poor people are suffering, inflation has risen. And indeed this is correct.
In this one year, flour has gone up, and sugar is even more expensive. Prime Minister Imran Khan even took notice of this and formed a sugar commission which made it findings public. But this government was not able to still control the price of sugar. It was an administrative failure.
As far as the Opposition is concerned, if you offered them an NRO, their rallies would likely end. But all said and done, the people are turning out to these rallies because they genuinely are at the end of their tether.
When I spoke to people on the streets, they told me that they could not light their kitchen stoves. One man selling azarbands showed me his gas bill which had gone up from Rs310 to Rs490 in a month. And when I heard this, I thought to myself, perhaps for the people in government, who are the rulers, Rs180 probably holds no water. In fact, perhaps even Rs180 billion might not faze them. But for a poor person, Rs180 turns their life upside down. That one hundred and eighty rupees is the difference between a child who goes hungry to bed or with a full belly in that man's household.
And so it is clear to me, that Prime Minister Imran Khan will have to perform, because if he doesn't, and his administration doesn't, whether the Opposition is sincere or not sincere with the people of Pakistan, people will come out on to the streets to protest regardless. And they will do it on the Opposition's call.
In Gujranwala, the main rallies for the PPP, PML-N and JUI-F have not yet reached the stadium (when this vlog was recorded) and the venue was full. So this means that the Opposition has managed to put on a show of power. But the next question is if this bears out, then as a result is Imran Khan's government in peril? Can it go?
You will recall that when Imran Khan himself was in the Opposition he held a massive sit-in for 114 days. He was steadfast and consistent but despite this Nawaz Sharif's government did not go. It stayed. And if I were to give you the inside story, Nawaz Sharif was not the Establishment's favourite at all. His government did not go because of Imran Khan's sit-ins, despite the fact that he was not the Establishment's blue-eyed boy. Today we have civil-military leadership on the same page and a prime minister who is the Establishment's blue-eyed boy. So is Imran Khan's government at risk because of these jalsas? The answer is 'no'.
In my analysis, the government will not go. Imran Khan will finish his three years. This is my opinion. But if there is any danger to Imran Khan, it is from Imran Khan himself.
Barrister Ehtesham is the host of SAMAA TV's Sawal that airs Friday to Sunday 8pm