As these words are being written, TV screens are showing images of people being led by their ‘leaders’ towards the Red Zone. Containers being moved by a private crane, Imran screaming, “Nawaz, I am coming!” from the top of his container, and other scenes of utter chaos. Despite promising otherwise, PAT Chief Tahir-ul-Qadri and PTI Chairman Imran Khan are now attempting to shift their sit-ins in front of the Parliament. The two marches have enjoyed exemplary co-ordination so far. They kicked off on the same date, held sit-ins not too far away from each other, and are now moving towards the Red Zone at the same time. Perhaps it is just an unfortunate coincident. Maybe, it is not. Either way, these are desperate people taking desperate measures. Having failed to bring the millions they had promised, they were faced with two simple options: accept failure, negotiate and return, or raise the stakes. Unfortunately, they seem to have settled for the latter.

Tahir-ul-Qadri, being a non-political entity, isn’t surprising anyone. He’s a saboteur at work, and this what they do. His bizarre antics, such as holding a “people’s parliament”, make perfect sense to those who can see through the façade. Since he doesn’t enjoy either mass support or credibility, only chaos and unrest can help him achieve his objective. But, the harder he tries, the more exposed he stands. The real disappointment is Imran. Unlike Qadri, he is the leader of a major mainstream political party. The PTI is leading the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and has a presence in Sindh and Punjab provincial assemblies as well. The fact that his tactics and rhetoric have become increasingly difficult to distinguish from Qadri’s is his loss, and the loss of the millions who votes for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the 2013 general election. This was to be the party, which would uphold democratic values, the rule of law and keep others honest by performing well. As of now, it is failing on all fronts; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is being ignored, the party is completely focused on negative politics and is relying on a few thousand charged supporters to force an elected Prime Minister to resign.

However, the role played by most political parties during this episode has been encouraging. MQM, JI, JUI-F, PPP, ANP – all have taken reasonable positions and stood by the democratic government. Things would’ve been much more difficult for the PML-N had other political parties not acted maturely. On way or the other, the drama in Islamabad is going to end. One hopes that once the dust has settled, the Parliament and democracy will emerge victorious.