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PDM’s power show

The opposition-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held an impressive political rally in Gujranwala declaring war against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and setting the tone for the agitation campaign.

There can be no denying that a large number of people converged from across Punjab to the PML-N stronghold. Eleven parties are part of the opposition’s alliance and many have the capability to bring out large crowds. It was also an unusual sight to see Bilawal, Maryam Nawaz, and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on the same stage at the same time. The campaign may be off to a solid start but it needs to be seen what it will eventually achieve.

The top tier PDM leadership took Imran Khan to task as each one of them slammed the government, vowing to end it packing by the end of the year. The harshest criticism came from PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif who took a step further by personally calling out the army chief and slandering state institutions. This has raised questions of whether Nawaz Sharif is taking the matter to the point of no return. It could either lead to an uprising or the military may strike back.

Other leaders including Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal and Maulana Fazl appeared more nuanced in their speeches. There was the usual vitriol against the ‘inept and incompetent’ government and its handling of the economy. We have seen this before but the bigger question on everyone’s mind is whether it will dent Imran Khan’s government which has not even completed half of its tenure.

Federal Ministers and PTI leaders have been making statements against the PDM and its rallies. The criticism of state institutions is a cause of concern. Nawaz Sharif’s speeches may be banned from airing but there is no denying that the military is now being openly criticised. The Indian media had a field day using Nawaz’s narrative to lash out at Pakistan.

The next rally is in Karachi and we will again witness a repeat of what happened in Gujranwala. The PPP is the host this time and partly activists will converge once again. Despite the pandemic, political activities are at its peak. Will the PDM maintain its momentum until the decisive march to Islamabad or will it fizzle out under its own pressure?

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