Gujranwala outburst, beginning of the end or end of the beginning?
I do not know where to begin and where to end. The PDM rally in Gujranwala was expectedly large and charged no matter what Ministers and PTI spokespersons may say. And how much one hopes they say less and think more. That city and the cities and towns around it have been PML-N country for over three decades. To expect anything else there last Friday reflected ignorance bordering on stupidity. The speeches were charged, too. Very much charged. One, particularly not even printable. So, how will it roll on from here? Where and how will it end? It is not PTI or the IK government that is the target now. The stakes are much higher. For Mr Nawaz Sharif, sitting pretty in London, the issue is not of what happens here in Pakistan today. As far as he is concerned it is no holds barred because if there is chaos and a breakdown, he has nothing to lose. He can let everyone stew until it is all over and keep waiting for a turn of events. The turn like the one that came his way following Benazir’s unexpected landing from Dubai at the end of October 2007.King Abdullah then told President Musharraf that after her return, he could no longer keep Nawaz Sharif away from Pakistan. Thus the unexpected happened and he too returned for another decade of Sharif’s rule. As Pakistani politics is full of the unexpected, one would not hazard a hasty conclusion except that this time he is not targeting the government or PTI but institutions. And I haven’t witnessed its like. Two institutions which are the country’s last hope. Specially, an institution whose members are getting martyred every other day so the country stays safe. In the past two weeks alone, scores of officers and men have laid down their lives. The country buried twenty of them on the day of the Gujranwala rally and not a word was mentioned about those martyred. Strangely, there is a sudden jump in such strikes and ambushes as it is in the political temperature. The last time Mr Sharif returned, President Musharraf was toothless. His powers had been clipped and someone else was calling the shot. Today, it is different. Those laying down their lives to keep the country from the harm’s way belong largely to the Punjabi heartland as does Mr Sharif. What will be their sentiments in a situation we are witnessing? I shudder to imagine. Way back in 1999, as Kargil was happening, Mr Sharif was on a different wave length.
Whether Kargil should have happened is not under discussion. It is the institution. Most countries would have a different attitude. In Pakistan, the state and its army are intertwined for various reasons. It is integrated because of the way Pakistan was truncated by the departing British and the resultant insecurity. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not of Pakistan’s making. Blunders were committed no doubt. But the blame has to be co-shared. Whatever the past, it is the present we are discussing and what we heard at Gujranwala in the wee hours of Saturday would be music to the ears of those on our east. Now, will the PPP and even Maulana be willing to co-share what was said from London? That and the sentiments within the institution will determine the course and progress of the PDM movement. Any political movement needs an orchestrated direction. An unified one. Here, the unity is only to the extent of throwing Imran Khan out. Beyond that nobody except Mr Sharif and Ms Maryam would know. Maulana only to an extent. The principal loser here will be PPP. Given Mr Zardari’s political skills, it is hard to believe he will rock his floating boat. As I have said earlier, it is not difficult to launch a movement in Pakistan. Keeping it in order is a rarity. It can break lose and get out of every one’s control. Let us hope and pray it does not bring everything down as Pakistan is already very stressed on many fronts.