As the itinerary of the less- (or much-)awaited long march of Imran Khan, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), has been made public, there is less hope of any reconciliation between the former prime minister and the incumbent coalition government. Mr Khan told a press conference in Lahore that the long march would begin on October 28 at Liberty Chowk in Lahore and leave for its (snatched) destination of Islamabad. Imran Khan had been delaying the announcement of the long march date for quite some time, fueling the rumours that backdoor channels were on between the two sides to resolve the issue. The PTI has one-point agenda: new elections, instant elections. Meanwhile, the government never put up any serious effort to engage the toppled prime minister and instead, fiery and provoked statements were issued by the ministers on the long march. They should have been reminded that four long marches were organised during the previous government’s tenure by the opposition but the government of that time never tried to disrupt them. As one can question the conduct of the government side, the same way, one can question the PTI leader for the objective and timing of the long march, when Pakistan is experiencing severe economic difficulties and 33 million people affected by the monsoon floods are still in the phase of rehabilitation.
A Supreme Court bench has rejected a government’s plea to call Imran Khan for violating the court’s order in the previous May march. It is the responsibility of the government and the PTI to maintain law and order and there should be no disruption in the march from any side. The long march will hit the usual destinations through Muridke, Kamonki, Gujranwala, Daska, Sialkot, Sambaryal, Wazirabad, Gujarat, Lala Musa, Kharian, Jhelum, Gujar Khan, and Rawalpindi before arriving in the capital on November 4. As Imran Khan calls its long march a soft revolution, it is the turn of the government to show its soft side.