What were once ambiguous demands have changed into sinister? And yet, even at the current scenario, there is a minor lucidity regarding what Imran Khan’s real goal is: electoral reforms or something more?
The ambiguousness extends to the senior leadership of the PTI itself, with some members discussing about reforms, others talking about elections and all proposing that the ultimate demands would be left up to Mr Khan himself. What is obvious so far is that PTI is dogged to push the government a far away – and probably all the way over the edge too?
Vexing as the PML-N’s conduct has been in some instances and while recognizing that as the incumbent power, there is massive responsibility resting on the shoulders of the PML-N leadership, the PTI cannot absolutely run away charge for the enhancing sense of crisis and probably even ominous to the system.
The most important perplexity from a democratic perspective is not that Mr Khan wants to hold another massive procession or that he is arguing that the May 2013 elections were not as free and fair as the best democratic standards expect. The essential issue is that Mr Khan seems unconcerned about the impact of his tumult on basic national political stability and the space his ascending threats of street disturbance is producing for anti-democratic forces in the country. It is certainly a question of significance. To what extent is political discontent possible before the real fault line in Pakistani politics – democracy or something else – is re-disclosed?
It is not sufficient for Imran to definitely assert that he and his followers will never permit the democratic system to be discarded – when decisions to relinquish the democracy system have been taken in the past, there is no civilian is no civilian political entity that can simply reverse the decision. Once the trigger is pulled, after the circumstances have been made, it is all but impossible to put the anti-democracy bullet back in the chamber.
Yet, it is not just the probability of the conclusive anti-democratic measure, threatened by Mr Khan, which the whole civilian political perspective has to bother about. Already, in minute though inevitable ways, the civil-military imbalance has down further in favor of the military. Part of this is clearly the government’s mistake, given its bothering reactions to the PTI’s rally scheduled for Aug 14. Besides not a single person outside the government sees the invocation of Article 245 of the Constitution to be sensible political move.
However, in the always critically significant sphere of civil-military relations, Imran and the PTI’s acts have already, even if not intentionally, mounted the pressure on the government to somehow placate the army-led security establishment and do nothing on the policy front that would irritation. Certainly, a government so much on the back-foot can do little to further the metamorphosis to democracy.