Ever since Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri announced his plan to organize a long march in case the electoral reforms he had proposed were not accepted, the government, opposition and Parliament have been caught up in a dilemma about formulating an adequate response. The reform package received a big boost when MQM chief Altaf Hussain announced his party’s unconditional support and asked party workers to prepare the long march scheduled for Jan 14. The government met with a setback when Interior Minister Rehman Malik failed to persuade Mr Hussain to stay away from the march. He was told to contact Dr Qadri instead.

President Asif Zardari has constituted a committee headed by the prime minister to review these developments including PML-Q’s pledge to support Dr Qadri’s long march. Saner reaction has come from PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif who has said that the long marchers would face no hurdle from the Punjab government. His demand for the announcement of election schedule makes a lot of sense. He believes that that would end the prevailing state of confusion. Dr Qadri appears to have started believing that the long march would be successful. It was this in mind that he said if interim setup was announced before the long march, he would not accept it. Interesting days are ahead and one needs to monitor the situation carefully.