Pakistan’s politics has always been a rollercoaster and most governments only have a year of a honeymoon. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, however, from the very start has been in doldrums and it appears like those problems are set to increase in the coming months.
According to Fahd Hussain, resident editor of Dawn in Islamabad, over the next 60 days. First, the PPP and PTI are set for long marches in February. “Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will lead his march from Karachi in the last days of February and move north through Sindh into Punjab. PTI’s Sindh president and federal minister Ali Zaidi will gather his forces in Ghotki and march southwards towards Karachi in a move aimed at countering the PPP’s campaign against the PTI government.”
Next, all this is happening “at a time when parliament is cooling down. The big excitement of the mini budget is over, as is the scare that a move against the government in the two Houses was picking up steam. It is not. There is little indication that anything like this could rear its head again this month. With no major legislation in the offing, and no big controversy brewing inside the National Assembly and Senate — other than the usual acrimony and an occasional clash — the attention will be focused on the looming battle of the long marches. Get ready for plenty of ‘split-screen’ action on news channels.”
Phase three, according to Hussain, “will begin when the PTI long march reaches Karachi and the PPP march reaches Islamabad. What will they do? Camp outside Bilawal House in Karachi and on D-Chowk in Islamabad? These parallel mega events will whip up passions and generate heat and light which will — as per their respective calculations — accrue political dividends for both parties by charging up their base. Phase four would be the final conclusion of these events and on what terms they finally end. There is so much that could go awry in these phases.”
Hussain concludes by noting “As the PTI, PML-N, PPP and JUI-F start warming up for the upcoming round of hostilities, they know full well there’s no chance of a draw. Such definitive binaries linked to outcomes from projected events makes planners nervous. They can also make them reckless. In a state like such, unforeseen errors happen. In today’s charged political environment, no contestant can afford errors, and none can avoid them. Something is going to go down.”