It is now or never for the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), particularly its component party, Jamiat Ulema-I-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). Well, so it seems. The JUI-F has directed its workers to bring essential items, party flags, and banners with them. The party has also asked its supporters to remain peaceful and keep a watch on miscreants. This means the party is here for the long haul. Temperatures within the government circles have risen dramatically over the last few weeks. We, Pakistanis, have been witnessing episodes for almost the entire month. Almost every pillar of the state is on a collision course. Only time will tell what the outcome will be.
But one thing is for sure, things are getting uglier. After violent protests following Imran Khan’s arrests rocked the country, the coalition partners in the government are gearing up to stage their own. In fact, protesters from various parties in the government have assembled in the Red Zone. To be honest, the protest outside the Supreme Court (SC) is nothing more than a power show to counter the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
According to the latest reports, workers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), JUI-F, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and other parties had entered the Red Zone and set up camp right outside the Supreme Court building. They do not intend to leave the place until Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial resigns for favoring the former prime minister, Imran Khan. The road from Serena Chowk to the Parliament House has been blocked, while Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel are handling security. Around 10,000 JUI-F workers would also be manning the area.
There is no doubt that the JUI-F excels in street power, but will it or its allies achieve their objective? We will not have to wait for long to find out. The date for holding elections in Punjab lapsed on Sunday. To say that the PDM protest the very next day was a mere coincidence will be a little too much. There are rumors going around that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would be shown the door for contempt. There are also reports of the entire cabinet being sent packing. Whatever the result, it would only add more fuel to the fire.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court has taken up the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) plea to reconsider its April 4 order of holding polls, and on Monday, its three-member bench adjourned the hearing for one week. The bench wants to hear the ECP before announcing its decision. “We will hear all the parties in the case,” the CJP said.
The anger is not only being vented on the roads, but the National Assembly is also echoing with heavy criticism of the judiciary for letting Imran go. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, during his address on the floor of the house, alleged that whatever was happening within the judiciary was intended to prevent Justice Qazi Faez Isa from assuming the position of chief justice in September. He cast doubts on the unity of the judiciary and called for setting up a committee that would comprise parliamentarians, which would analyze the conduct of the chief justice and take other necessary steps.
It appears we are heading for another showdown, which would only deteriorate the situation. Are there any sane minds out there?