Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 02 September 2014/07 Dhul Qa’dah 1435

Pakistan’s power struggle crisis reached yet another low overnight when anti-government protesters stormed the broadcaster’s Islamabad headquarters and, reportedly, forced PTV management to cut transmission. This nation – rallied by, chiefly, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) – has, since August, been agitating for the resignation of Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister. In charge since June 2013, Sharif, now refusing to quit to pave the way for fresh elections, is accused of stealing votes.

Supporters of the PTI, under the leadership of Imran Khan, have joined forces with those of other political parties. When vote-rigging accusations were raised by Khan, who also suggested a recount, noted political analyst Ahmed Quraishi, Sharif skirted the issue. From this angle, argued the analyst, Sharif’s problems were “self-created” and people will now accept nothing short of fresh elections.

“It’s a political crisis. It’s basically the opponents of the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, getting together. Parties from different backgrounds all coming together. Mainly two groups, of course, one is the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader Imran Khan, the same as the spokesman. And then there’s the firebrand cleric Tahirul Qadri and his group…. Both of them coming together to bring down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” Islamabad-based independent political analyst Quraishi told Cii Radio this morning.

“The Prime Minister has been in Pakistani politics for 29 years – him and his family, the Sharifs. The prime minister, of course, runs the country. He runs the federal government. His younger brother runs the province of Punjab. He’s the chief minister there. The job of course, is very important in political equation, because it has the largest number of seats in the federal parliament,” explained Quraishi.

Members of Sharif’s extended family also hold key political position, with some serving as members of parliament and others are in provincial assemblies. Broadly, added the analyst, the rather wealthy Sharif clan – which has been in charge for decades – is facing its biggest challenge now with the likes of PTI and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), under Qadri, joining forces to “clip the wings” of or bring down the Prime Minister and his family. “It’s a major challenge for them,” Quraishi said on Sabahul Khair.

After days of scuffles between the protesters and the police, confined to the capital’s Red Zone, home to government buildings, Quraishi said things are returning to normality but it is still difficult to travel in and out of Islamabad due to heavy military presence. In the meantime, three people have been killed and 500-700 injured during this period but the analysts suspects the numbers could be higher. Media reports note that protesters have gate-crashed one of the government buildings. Further, 2,500 police officers, explained Quraishi, defied orders to crackdown.

Asked what’s the connection between Qadri’s PAT and Khan’s PTI, for them to join hands, Quraishi said it was simply a “meeting of interests” and laughed off what he said were conspiracies doing rounds. “Taharul Qadri has been… speaking about a need for political reform,” he said.

“Although he’s more focused now on his Dawah and more religious work, that he does, but he has been an elected member of Pakistan’s federal parliament (for almost) 20 years, he kept interest in Pakistani politics.” The cleric, added Quraishi, felt the nation’s politics had become too corrupt and pushed for political reform and transparency. “I think he found an ally in Imran Khan.”

Quraishi told Cii listeners that the situation and this level of activism in Pakistan, which won its independence in 1947, is unprecedented. Looking ahead, the analyst believes that the army – whose policy is that of non-interference in politics – acknowledges that Sharif has a political problem that he ought to address without inappropriately using military force. Amid this, a lot of Pakistanis who voted Khan last year, observed Quraishi, are “asking, the military, very openly, to stage a coup and bring down the government of Prime Minister of Sharif.”