All eyes are set on August 14. There has never been more uncertainty in Pakistan's recent history over the unfolding of events as now.
Amidst plenty of speculation, none of us are sure whether the government will crumble or survive.
In case things falls apart, will there be another election soon - who will take over in the interim?
If the government survives, will the Azadi March be the last attempt to overthrow PML-N’s administration, or will the frequency of attacks against it multiply?
Read more: [Azadi] march madness: 6 days to go
The uncertainty is mainly due to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s seemingly directionless approach; he has not laid out any plan on how this march will bring about the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. And even if Nawaz is taken down, what will happen after that? How will Imran ensure the next elections will be rigging-free?
Qadri, in his container sit-in, managed to hold people for almost five days, begged for negotiations at the end and ultimately, tamely, withdrew having extracted only a promise of electoral reforms.
Imran has this example in mind, hence his announcement that he will not settle for anything less than Nawaz’s resignation. And yet, there are no signs of the PTI resigning from the assembly. On the contrary, the PTI has nominated three people for the Elections Reform Committee.
Coming to the marchers themselves: while Imran’s followers will happily stage a protest from Friday to Sunday, what will happen on Monday?
They have offices and schools to go to, their real lives, to which they cannot bring much change.
Additionally, civil disobedience is risky since thanks to Article 245 and Section 144, it may involve the army as well as the police. Imagine what would happen if, even by accident, there is an altercation between a PTI protester and a soldier. This grim scenario is, however, highly unlikely because, to my understanding, all of Imran's followers were previously Musharraf fans. They started supporting Imran only when they felt the army wasn't directly taking part in the elections.
They will likely root for the army over Imran any day.
Take a look: Will PTI boycott ‘the mid-term’ polls?
Bear in mind, it seems that certain elements in the army don't want Imran to carry out this march; evidence of this coming from certain 'notorious' columnists writing against the protest.
Imran, I believe, is well aware that after all this commotion, if he is unable to bring down this government, he will lose his credibility and followers, and his Mahmud Ghaznavi style follow-up attacks will only serve to help keep Nawaz in place.
With so much obviously going against Imran’s strategy to bring Nawaz down, it seems a bit odd that he isn't backing out. There has to be something more to it than meets the eye. To what extent is the military establishment playing a role in his thinking? To what extent, if any, did the powers that be have a role to play in the implementation of Article 245 - a move that irrevocably returned the gamekeeper (read: army) back to the checkerboard.
If after the implementation of Article 245, Imran still manages to topple the government, it will be one sign that can be interpreted to read: the army was an accomplice. All this coming to pass is comparatively easy given that the army isn't the one who gets the blame in this.
So what should Nawaz do? Is surviving through massive compromise better than giving all power away?
Nawaz is, or should be, aware that a military takeover is not out of the realm of possibility no matter what ex-judges have said in the past.
International powers might have been against a military takeover three years ago, but with the Afghan exit just around the corner, the army may be a better bet than a civilian government.
More analysis: No winner in the game
Two things are for sure and Nawaz knows them:
The theory that the people of Pakistan are very resilient and have rejected military dictatorship four times is absolutely untrue. They have rejected four dictators over time, but they love the military and wouldn't mind, if not celebrate, another takeover.
The notion that the army hasn’t learnt anything from their mistakes is bogus. They have and, therefore, recognise that people do not stand against them for past conduct, but for the length they had to endure one face, one head honcho. If Army Chiefs are willing to retire and pass on the mantle of head of state from one military man to the next, people will get to see a fresh visage taking oath every two years. Fresh face, same institution; fresh hopes, same conduct.
The proof, if that is really needed, is that all those who were howling at Kayani being made COAS are now jubilant at Raheel Sharif’s appointment.
We call whoever is new, ‘The Doer.’
If martial law is imposed now, you may never see democracy again.