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A shot in arm for PML-N?

Updated July 13, 2018

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LAHORE: Reports of province-wide mass arrests of PML-N workers may prove a shot in the arm for the party to mobilise workers for today’s rally and the ballot which is just 12 days away.

“The detention of our activists has removed pressure from us to show that the masses are supporting the narrative of our Quaid by coming out on roads in large numbers for welcoming former prime minister,” a senior party official says.

“The situation has changed as the arrests are making headlines in the local and international media. Now we aren’t under pressure to show a sizable number of activists on roads on Friday (today).”

Requesting not to be named, he admits that the police action has also helped them hide their shortcomings in making Mr Sharif’s welcome a success and cover up the fact whether people are with the narrative being built by the Quaid.

Political scientist Dr Amjad Magsi endorses the view that the treatment being meted out to one of the major stakeholders of the electoral politics will help strengthen the narrative being built by the N League that selective accountability is being practiced in the country.

“This will enable the PML-N to play the victim card and win sympathies of voters,” asserts the scholar from Punjab University’s Pakistan Study Centre.

“Unlike 2007 the results won’t evaporate before the polls because elections then were months away while this time there are just 12 days to go to polls,” he says, referring to the Musharraf regime’s clampdown on N Leaguers to prevent them from reaching the Islamabad airport for receiving their leader, who was coming to end his over seven-year exile in Saudi Arabia.

“In 2007, the match was between a dictator (Musharraf) and a political leader (Nawaz). But now supposedly a neutral caretaker government is there to ensure a level playing field for all parties, therefore, the polarization being created now will sow seeds of instability for the governance system in the post-July 25 era,” he warned.

Meanwhile, PML-N media coordinator Muhammad Mehdi says that the “state oppression” aimed at discouraging the party activists has worked the other way and emboldened them to come out on roads to show solidarity with their leadership.

In a statement, he says the masses know that the party is fighting for the cause of supremacy of civil rule and they will support the party Quaid and his daughter when they land at the airport on Friday evening.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018