Imran Khan again under pressure? 

By: Hamid Mir      Published: 01:41 PM, 21 Sep, 2020
Imran Khan again under pressure? 

Nawaz Sharif’s decision to break his silence created a huge panic. The rivals made so much hue and cry that we too held our breath and started wondering whether if a lion from the Margalla Hills had started roaming the Constitution Avenue. 

But, thank God, everything was fine. Nawaz Sharif had only decided to address the gathering of opposition leaders in Islamabad. This invitation for the speech was extended by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – the young chairman of PPP – on the telephone. And those in the government were surprised when Bilawal announced in a tweet that he had extended the invitation to Nawaz.

They had been claiming every day that the opposition leadership was requesting for an NRO, but Nawaz Sharif’s speech meant a declaration of war, and Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz too were standing by him. The publicity of the speech even before the speech caused disquiet among those government members who had been subtracting Sheen out of Noon and claiming that Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif would soon part their ways. On one hand, both Noon and Sheen were united like a single entity and, on the other, Zardari too was seeming to be more threatening to the government. 

Anyways, Mr Zardari, while welcoming the APC participants on behalf of his party, delivered a speech which was actually a welcoming address, but the tone of his comments was a bit changed because he ended his speech with this verse of Saif-ud-Din Saif:

Meri dastan-e-hasrat wo suna suna k roye

Merey azmaney waley mujhe aazma k roye 

The ending of Mr Zardari’s speech was actually announcing that the time has come to make all those cry against whom the APC was organised.

And then, Bilawal invited Nawaz Sharif for his address. I had thought that I would watch this address on social media, but when I noticed the TV screen, Nawaz Sharif was thanking Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal at the start of his speech.

I wasn’t able to believe my eyes because the government ministers had announced at a press conference yesterday with an arrogance that Nawaz Sharif was a convicted criminal and the PEMRA would take action if any TV channel aired his speech.

When I watched this press talk, I recalled the PEMRA’s order during the Nawaz Sharif government in which the TV channels were told that they could not telecast the funeral of convicted criminal Mumtaz Qadri. And then during the same tenure, the PEMRA had also banned even those TV channels which were covering the Faizabad sit-in with utmost caution.

However, when almost all TV channels started showing the speech of convicted Nawaz Sharif, who had been sentenced by a convicted judge Arshad Malik, around noon on September 20, it felt like a big change had arrived in Pakistan. It seemed all TV channels had decided to stand up against the government orders and were ready to face action by PEMRA.

One message was very clear in Nawaz Sharif’s speech. He said that their fight was against those who had brought Imran Khan into the power, and not against Imran Khan himself. He said the reason behind Pakistan’s problem was not the State within the State but, in fact, a State above the State. And when he started talking about CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa, it seemed that Sharif’s speech had taken the limelight away from the APC convened by Mr Bilawal.

When the address ended, some PML-N stalwarts present at the APC started asking each other who had written the speech. The colleagues outside were being asked from within the APC hall what would be happened now? The participants of the APC could not believe when they were told that the speech had been aired by all the TV channels.

It is also necessary to mention here that although some ministers had announced yesterday that Nawaz Sharif’s speech won’t be allowed for the telecast, the government did not give any instructions when the TV channels started airing the address. Perhaps the prime minister had calculated that airing the speech on TV channels would damage the PML-N, not the government, as the state institutions were to be his main target and not Imran Khan. And if Nawaz Sharif’s views reached the ordinary Pakistanis then they would realise that Nawaz Sharif’s fight was with the state institutions, not with Imran Khan.

When Nawaz Sharif was saying that the Pakistani media was being silenced, he perhaps didn’t know that his speech was on air at the Pakistani TV channels. Hence, if the government does not take any action against the TV channels for airing this speech then the government deserves credit that it, on one hand, told the world that the restrictions on media in Pakistan were not to the extent as being claimed and, on the other, there would also be an attempt to take advantage of the speech indirectly. 

And the news is that Nawaz Sharif’s speech was aired with the permission of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif’s supporters are jubilant after this address and those backing the PTI are happy that it would multiply the problems for the PML-N.

The APC has also made some important announcements but the question is: the leaderships of the political parties attending the APC have to do their politics in Pakistan. Will the opposition leadership in Pakistan be able to exert that pressure on the government after Nawaz Sharif’s aggressive speech, which has been announced in the APC’s decisions?

In the coming days, maintaining and expanding their alliance would be the biggest challenge for the parties attending the APC. If the opposition remains successful in this test then the pressure would increase on the government. But if the opposition alliance does not sustain then Imran Khan will take advantage and the reason behind this advantage would be Nawaz Sharif’s speech which wasn’t banned.

Lastly, the only request is that the politicians shouldn’t prefer how much benefit or loss their decisions are causing to them personally. They should keep in mind whether their decisions are benefiting an ordinary person of Pakistan or not. 

Categories : Opinion