It seems to be all sound and fury signifying nothing. This seems to be the state of talks between the leaders of government and Imran Khan. The political discourse is full of promises from both sides to end the deadlock but there is no substance in the claims. It is more of a status quo state.
However, there is another angle to the political state and that is both sides appear to have taken extreme positions, switching to their mainstays for a show of strength. Both sides are testing the waters to measure their political and popular strength.
On one hand, PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaking from his comfortable container has vetoed talks but PTI leader DR Arif Alvi repeatedly says in his TV talk shows insists that his party has never closed its doors for negotiations and blames the official party for backing out. On the other hand, Parvez Rashid, throws the ball in Imran Khanâ€™s (PTI) court by saying â€œLet the PTI leadership decide the time and venue for talks, I say on the record that the governmentâ€™s negotiators will meet them,â€ added Mr. Rashid who is also the spokesman for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The argumentative logic is the same from both parties. We are ready to let the other side approach us but in the process also blaming each other for the stalemate. The sum total of more than a dozen or dirty dozen meetings is nothing above zero.
As the force of Imran Khanâ€™s political rhetoric changes from educated politician to the level of Sheihk Rashidâ€™s language, Dr Alvi of PTI defends it by asserting: “The government has refused to budge even an inch from its stated position and shown no willingness to accept our demand of a meaningful investigation into election results.â€ At the same time, the government had resorted to a crackdown against PTI workers, he alleged. As a sequence, the party is left with no alternative but to go to the people and talk in their language and so does Imran Khan. This is what makes PTIâ€™s chant â€˜Go Nawaz Goâ€™ reaches the top of the charts for the last several weeks.
It seems that the keenness earlier shown by the government with the possibility of a visit by the Chinese President is no more there. The interest in urgent dialogue to resolve the issue now lacks urgency as far as the government is concerned. It remains to be seen if any party has lost its bargaining power due to this agreed delay. It seems both are playing for a draw as the government feels there is nothing more to lose but feels that now Imran Khan and PTI may be at the losing end because of their stubborn attitude in the continued PTI Dharna.
The added attraction of the PTI Dharna and the star attraction of Imran Khan Khan are beginning to fade. How long can a young person stay away from work, family and other duties of life? D-Chowk is now a spot which is marked by people as places to be seen. So now it is not the only place but one of the places. Nawaz Sharif must be in some comfort zone with the leaders from Zardari to Mahmood Achakzia behind with full democratic support and for some time ISPR is also silent. This does not provide channels to predict and prophesy about any role of the army in the continued political mess. The government has accepted the D-Chowk dwellers as one of them and has decided to move on with its daily routine business,â€ he quipped when asked whether Imran Khan and fellow protesters would be removed.
The expanding circle of Imran Khanâ€™s political demography from Islamabad to Karachi to Lahore and then to Mianwali satisfies staunch PTI/ Imran Khanâ€™s supporters. â€œWe believe Imran Khan is striking a chord with the masses and the party has decided to keep building pressure until the government listens to our demandâ€. We hope to hear very soon but Imran Khanâ€™s intention of holding public meetings in Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa and Fata. It may hold good for PTI and Imran Khan in the next elections but an immediate removal of Nawaz Sharif is a far cry.
Neutral observers get a feel that both the parties are buying time. Imran Khan is of the view that the government’s resolve is gradually breaking down and soon it will collapse. However, the view of the government is also not very different. They think that people at the Imran Khanâ€™s PTI Dharna are getting frustrated, bored and have lost their initial spark. Their slogans are getting dimmer and people come and go talking of Nawaz Sharif but nothing serious. So let them play for some more and soon they will fade away is their vision of the situation. People in Islamabad have also learned now to live with the situation. It is a routine affair rather than a special one. Therefore, the ambiguity of the situation keeps PTI alive, with hope every day that tomorrow is another day.
Meanwhile, the Jirga that got some importance in their role of shat UNO Peace Keeping Forces seems to be sidelined by both Imran Khan and the government with some respect. The extreme stands taken by both the opposing forces do not much room for even negotiators like Rehman Malik much to manipulate.
By coincidence, Eid-ul-Azha served as a drinks break in a highly contested cricket match between India and Pakistan. This Eid is symbolic of sacrifice where Hazrat Ibrahim offered his son. It remains to be seen what Imran Khan and the government can sacrifice for the true love of Pakistan and for the poor and downtrodden people. The duration of the PTI Dharna is still to be decided by the captain, Imran Khan, whether to plat a test match, ODI or a twenty-twenty match.
So, eyes are set to see the post Eid-ul-Azha political canvas of Pakistan and the emerging picture. We all love â€˜whatever happens must happen for the goodâ€™ of the people who have suffered, suffered and suffered only to keep these leaders alive. The nation still hopes that may Imran Khan, his party and the government drawdown to some sane and peaceful conclusion.