POLITICAL protests, rallies and movements are the democratic rights of the people and their representatives and, especially given the paucity of democracy in this country’s history, ought never to be impeded or blocked, so long as the programme stays within the parameters of the law. Yet, while it is well within the PTI’s right to launch some kind of new movement — or is it just a daylong protest? — on May 11, there are many questions that Imran Khan’s latest foray into protest politics has left unanswered so far. What, for example, is the point, if any, to May 11? That the leader of a party which won a significant number of votes in the last election and now runs the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is willing to plunge into protest mode without it being entirely apparent to the non-partisan observer why and to what end is slightly worrying from a democratic perspective. At the very least, it is puzzling.

From the few dots that can be connected, it appears that the PTI wants to use the anniversary of last year’s election day to reiterate its unhappiness with the credibility of the vote-counting process — or perhaps even to outright reject last year’s results. Yet, the PTI’s message has gone beyond just the election and taken on an anti-government, anti-judiciary and anti-media (or at least a specific section of the media) colour. Then there is the linking up with Tahirul Qadri, who shot to fame, or perhaps infamy, with his attempt to stave off elections last year. All of that adds up to a rather peculiar mix — with the potential to fizz around in any direction or even several directions at the same time. Meanwhile, there are voices of reason within the PTI, such as Javed Hashmi who has dismissed the possibility of mid-term elections. Other PTI members privately accept that even if irregularities from last May are now proved, it would not change the overall election result. Certainly, the election process needs to be made more transparent, free and fair — a significant step up from the present bar of acceptable and credible results. But can that really be achieved through street power instead of from inside parliament? Imran Khan has many questions to answer.

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