PTI, PAT preparing for final push LAHORE: Opposition parties are planning a post-Eidul Azha push and considering it “the last chance to oust the Sharifs” and the government, though playing cool, fears the rivals may try to create a ‘civil war-like situation’ to achieve their ‘ulterior’ motives.
The second phase of the campaign will be announced soon after Eid. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has cancelled even his Haj plan to remain accessible for all important strategic consultations and decisions, apprehensive of the short time available before the beginning the month of Muharram.
Muharram will start from Oct 2 and during this month political activities are usually put on the back burner.
Background interviews with leaders of both the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) reveal that they are looking for at least a big victory against the rulers if not their removal.
A senior PTI leader admits that the party is struggling to keep the cadre and vote bank intact for the next one and a half years. He says that to give the party activists a morale booster, early polls are necessary. And the issue must be settled during the post-Eid protest drive, otherwise it will be too late.
However, they are content with the results so far achieved in their anti-government campaigns.
“We’ve got what we’d planned for this phase of the movements,” says a leader who coordinates between the PTI and PAT on the anti-government strategy.
“That’s what, we’d expected in the first phase aimed at mobilising the public in general and workers in particular.”
Leaders of both the parties have rejected a perception that they could not assemble a good number of people during the Saturday shows in Rawalpindi and Lahore.
They say that only workers from Lahore and adjoining districts of Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Nankana, Kasur and Okara in the case of PTI and Rawalpindi, Attock, and Chakwal in the case of PAT were directed to join the protest rallies.
The workers from far off districts, they say, were not mobilised to save their energies and of course resources for the second phase in which supporters from across the country will be asked to join in like in the 2014 sit-in.
The parties are yet indecisive on selecting the venue for the next phase. Though the PTI and PAT have announced making Raiwind as their venue for the next protest, insiders say that Islamabad cannot be ruled out as the destination of the protesters.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) seems not bothered by the arch rivals’ protests as is suggested by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s body language, selection of words in his public meetings and undertaking a foreign tour from Sept 16.
But the elders are conscious that their political foes are looking out for a blunder by the ruling party.
They fear that the opposition, in frustration, may try to create a “civil war” like situation by encircling the Raiwind residence of the prime minister as PML-N activists’ reaction to such a move could lead to fights between supporters of the two sides across the province, if not in the country.
Unlike in 2014, the party is not afraid of even any unconstitutional move. “In 2014, we don’t have much in our balance sheet to carry it before the masses in the next polls. But, now a number of mega projects are going to complete either before the 2018 general elections or soon after it,” a central PML-N leader says.
“A pre-mature removal in anyway will give us political martyrdom as the responsibility of failure in completing some projects will also shift to the opponents or the forces behind the removal.”