Will PTI chief Imran Khan succeed in removing Nawaz Sharif from power and get his wish to have re-elections in the country? He is leading a massive rally in Islamabad demanding Sharif's resignation because of rigging and corruption charges. Imran has given two days for Sharif to resign before he storms the inner sanctum of Islamabad.
Sunday August 17, 2014, 14:37 DST
Addressing tens of thousands of party supporters in Islamabad, and through the electronic media the Pakistani masses, Tehrik-e Insaf Pakistan party chief Imran Khan launched a civil disobedience campaign today amid calls for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.
Calling it the most important speech of his political career, Imran Khan said he was giving Sharif two days to resign or he will call upon his supporters to enter the ‘red zone’ in Islamabad where the prime minister’s residence, parliament and the civil secretariat as well as foreign embassies are located.
Citing a litany of charges against Sharif and his family, most related to corruption and how he had bribed judges, politicians, journalists, and even members of the election commission, Imran Khan said Sharif had left no choice for him but to launch the civil disobedience campaign.
Khan said Sharif had also attempted to bribe generals in order to buy their loyalty. He said he did not want the army to intervene because of political chaos and appealed to his supporters to remain calm and disciplined.
Pointing to millions of dollars worth of properties owned by Sharif’s son in London, Imran Khan said there is no way people can make such money in the UK through fraudulent means. So where did the Sharif family acquire this wealth from?
Answering his own question, he pointed out that this money was plundered from Pakistan. He said Sharif was acquiring more loans that will sink the country deeper into debt and will have to be paid through the blood and sweat of the masses.
Imran Khan announced that since Sharif had come to power through illegal means by rigging the May 2013 election, he would no longer pay his utility bills like gas and electricity, or pay taxes until Sharif resigns.
He called upon the people to do the same.
Since becoming prime minister, Sharif has failed to overcome many of the problems plaguing Pakistan: daily power cuts, a sluggish economy and deteriorating law and order situation. While he inherited these problems from the previous regime, he has done little to address them.
His more than one year in power has been characterized by foreign trips.
Soon after last year’s general elections, Imran Khan said there had been massive rigging. He called for recounting in four constituencies but Sharif paid no attention. The demand was increased to ten constituencies but again the Sharif brothers—Nawaz and Shahbaz (ruling in Punjab) dismissed these calls.
Imran set the deadline of July 31 for Sharif to heed his call but showing complete disinterest, the latter refused to respond. Imran said he would launch a long-march from Lahore to Islamabad and arrive in the capital by August 14, the country’s Independence Day.
The government started to put hurdles in the way to prevent the caravan of buses, trucks and cars arriving in Islamabad that delayed Imran’s arrival but did not stop it.
At the same time, Tahirul Qadri, a Canadian citizen, also launched his own campaign and said he wanted to bring about a revolution in Pakistan.
While the two parties are holding separate rallies, Islamabad has the looks of a city under siege. Police and other security personnel have started erecting barriers to prevent entry of the marchers into Islamabad.
Khan announced at the rally that he will stay with the people in the streets for the next two days and if Sharif did not resign by then, he would lead the march into the ‘red zone.’
There are fears that should the situation deteriorate further—one wonders how—the powerful military might intervene. This is the spin put on by Sharif’s inner circle accusing Imran of being supported by the military to destabilize Sharif’s government.
Sharif has had a rocky relationship with the military. Informed observer believe that the army chief, General Raheel Sharif (no relation of Nawaz Sharif) who is close to the ousted former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf is unhappy with the manner in which Nawaz Sharif’s government has mistreated and humiliated him.
The military looks after its own.
It will be interesting to see whether Imran Khan would succeed in his mission to oust Nawaz Sharif and usher a system of government that would serve the hapless and oppressed people of Pakistan.