It is now two weeks into the protests in Islamabad and the battle of nerves still appears to be on. The only thing that stands clear is that neither the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), nor the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) have gained on the public perception index.
The plot is only thickening further. The sudden appearance of former additional secretary ECP Afzal Khan flinging accusations against a range of officials with a role in the 2013 elections’ process is still baffling if not downright suspect.
What’s notable though is that Afzal Khan’s admission of not having evidence to support the allegations has gone largely ignored in the national narrative – or at least the one pumped through a significant chunk of our (unsurprisingly) willing airwaves.
Read on: Ends may not justify means
Followed by Afzal’s so-called disclosure (that rings perfectly with the PTI’s rigging allegations) came the shroud-threatening, 48-hour deadline from Dr Tahirul Qadri who will, in his own words, stop at nothing short of the Sharif brothers’ hanging.
For someone who is not known for following up on his deadline notices, the dynamics that have developed after Qadri’s recent harangue are particularly worrying when seen in the context of other political developments.
A panicked statement from MQM chief Altaf Hussain, the subsequent sudden shuttling of Punjab governor and Nawaz’s trusted lieutenant Chaudhry Sarwar to Karachi and what is increasingly beginning to seem like a not-so-innocent-day-to-day meeting between Nawaz and Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif have hardly helped to silence the alarms going off in many a head.
Also read: Dangerous trends
The presence of a lingering crowd at Constitution Avenue – although meaningless compared to the real threat which is beginning to rear its head – keeps the uncertainty at fever pitch, becoming a source of strength to the real powers who are after Nawaz.
What has also become apparent in recent days is the precision with which the prime minister has been pushed into a corner, an anarchic dispensation where the elected representative have been shaped into fair game for just about anyone to take potshots at.
And the scenarios that are being painted on what the future holds and how the crisis will unravel are unsettling to say the least:
Will Nawaz resign? Would that be the end of his political career?
Will Nawaz go down a fighter? Would the PML-N win fresh elections?
Has Musharraf’s treason trial been his undoing?
Will the final stone be cast by the slaughter that transpired at Model Town?
What if Nawaz doesn’t resign? Despite all the calls for a ‘sacrifice’, Nawaz after all came to power as a result of a landslide victory and none of his detractors, including the skipper’s admiring rabble, have been able to change that.
So what if he decides to stay put like Iftikhar Chaudhry did in 2007? And if he does, will Nawaz be pushed out and humiliated more than what the current fanfare has subjected him to?
With the ideas of a national government carefully being accommodated in the current discourse, what will such an experiment mean for the gains made in the past several years and the attempts at strengthening the country’s democratic dispensation?
And the most disquieting question that has been on many a minds: What’s brewing in Pindi? With its recent, intrusive political statements, is the military establishment in fact preparing to do what it shouldn’t?
Or are we all just out of sorts, what with judgments impaired by dangerously contagious revolutionary zeal; by a past that never seems to let us go.