Nowadays, I get asked the same question everywhere I go: how many people are participating in Imran Khan’s long march?
“What do you think?” I ask them. I’m not on the container, and I’m watching TV at the same time as you are. I concur with whatever perception the camera and screen give you. However, they claim that each camera depicts a different crowd size. They are accurate. My personal opinion is that the atmosphere of a long march could not be established because of the extended driving time on GT Road. A rally that is restless and anxious to get there is one that is on a long march.
There isn’t that in this drawn-out march. Imran Khan appears to be only holding rallies in the towns and cities along the GT Road before travelling to Islamabad, not inciting a protest movement. Following a long day of speeches at long march demonstrations, Imran Khan goes home.
The size of the audience has little bearing on the long march. Even Imran Khan’s most ardent detractors must concede that the majority of our population currently finds him to be quite popular. In the parties, there isn’t a talismanic figure like the Tehreek-e-Insaf chief.
The Tehreek-e-Insaf is in charge of Pakistan’s most populous province. Imran Khan will disseminate stories that support this idea when he returns to his ancestral home in Lahore’s Zaman Park after speaking at a rally thanks to the environment that has been established since the start of the Long March, according to the federal government. Recently, a significant news conference conducted in Rawalpindi on Thursday seemed to imply that Imran Khan and they have crossed a line. Imran Khan will now be required to demonstrate flexibility following the news conference, but the former prime minister will be unable to do so.
In the rallies, Imran Khan’s favourite topics are the press conference and the torture of Senator Azam Swati and Shehbaz Gill. No matter how many more press conferences are held in his defence, according to PTI Chairman Imran Khan, “anyone who does a press conference will be humiliated in public.” In an interview, Imran stated that the country had made up its mind and would be supporting him in response to a query on another potential news conference against him.
The question is when those who forced this interim system upon us will realise this, he continued. I cannot comment on Imran Khan’s comment at the DG’s press conference, but the serious claims made by Azam Khan Swati against two senior officers of the country’s premier intelligence agency demand an explanation from the highest levels of the armed forces. The FIA detained Swati earlier this month after he sent a contentious tweet criticising the military leadership.
The PTI senator took a bold step, and came forward, accusing two top ISI officials of torturing him physically. Now, PTI leader Imran Khan raised the subject as he began his “long march” from Lahore, saying that the two intelligence personnel Mr Swati mentioned ought to be fired.
The Senate recently enacted a law criminalizing torture while in custody, perhaps keeping in mind this sobering truth. All security organisations, including the police and intelligence apparatus, must make the commitment to end torture as part of their SOPs in order to uphold the rule of law. The Azam Swati event can serve as a test case; let the authorities look into it, and if his allegations are confirmed, those accountable must appear before the court.
Because they are the protectors of the law, state institutions must set an example. The reality is that violence and torture are commonplace in Pakistan, from neighbourhood thanas to the “safe houses” of the security establishment. Even while this disgusting treatment of the common people occurs routinely, it makes headline news when politicians and other members of the elite are tortured while in detention.