Second round

 
October 20, 2020

The second leg of the PDM’s rallies against the government has gone ahead in Karachi. Even in the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif, who did not speak this time as he did in Gujranwala through...

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The second leg of the PDM’s rallies against the government has gone ahead in Karachi. Even in the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif, who did not speak this time as he did in Gujranwala through video link from London, the political rally – described by most as well-attended and well-represented – carried considerable weight and offered some strong and clear messaging from the opposition, even though those seen as too radical with their views were largely censored by mainstream media.

The fact the government and the state must realise by now is that resorting to censorship or mimicry or mockery will not really be of much use. Especially since the people can easily access speeches online, and also have a ready arsenal of previous statements given by the current prime minister on such issues. Will we ever see a time when the words spoken by those that are censored are taken seriously by the rulers that run this land? Political leaders coming from some of the country’s disadvantaged areas represent those whose voices are usually ignored in the larger scheme of the powerplay between the country’s mainstream parties and power structures. Apart from some hard-hitting political and ideological speeches, the Karachi jalsa also saw a focus on what is foremost on people’s minds – financial security. As many have pointed out, the PDM can get much leverage from the fact that people are indeed burdened under an unforgivable economic crunch. For the movement to use that was but natural and that is what Maulana Fazlur Rahman kept his focus on for the most part of the Karachi jalsa – speaking on the economy and the impact it is having on people who are literally unable to buy food.

Although government representatives, including the prime minister, have dismissed any talk of being disturbed by the protests, their actions seem to suggest otherwise. Given the PM had taken to mocking Bilawal Bhutto and Maryam Nawaz, it was only natural that Maryam Nawaz in her Karachi speech would say something about being a grandmother – which she did, and seemingly to good effect. From PM Khan’s very obvious jibes at the PDM to government ministers and advisers’ statements to the PDM Karachi gathering to the bizarre manner and story of Captain Safdar’s arrest (and consequent bail) to the no-holds-barred press conference by the PDM after Safdar’s arrest – things now only seem to be heating up here. We now have even more acrimony than before on the political spectrum. We also see a country where many lines are being redrawn. Where this leads the opposition parties and the government is a question many are attempting to answer but in the face of a constantly evolving situation, the answers vary from one extreme to the other. For now, we wait yet again for the next link in this very quickly shifting situation. In the meanwhile, the lady health workers protesting in Islamabad still wait for the government to listen to their demands.



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