The political scene in Pakistan appears to be heating up once more, with PTI’s show of force in Lahore, which frankly speaking was a wee bit of a disappointment. Both the Punjab Government and the PTI must have heaved a sigh of relief when nothing untoward occurred at the event. While PTI workers and supporters demonstrated exemplary discipline and dispersed to their homes in an orderly manner, one must give credit to the Punjab Government for showing political tolerance and allowing the public gathering to proceed unhindered in spite of the fact that Section 144 had been imposed in Lahore. While the demonstration was labelled as a protest against inflation and spiraling prices, the true purpose of the event appeared to be part of PTI’s Local Body Election campaign strategy.

In Sindh, the Opposition anger against, what it calls pre poll rigging through a redetermination of constituencies, appears to be going through a series of fits and starts. Although the situation has united opposition parties on one platform, what remains to be seen is the extent these parties are prepared to go in order to press home their demand. A portent of things to come was discernable in MQM statements issued during the protest outside the Press Club, wherein a couched threat was issued which pointed towards escalating the agitation.

The FIA team obtained Air Marshal (Retired) Asghar Khan’s statement in the long outstanding case filed by him sixteen years ago amidst news that the PML-N Government would very much like the case to be closed. This may well be true for the subject case is likely to open a Pandora’s Box with substantial embarrassment for the ruling party leadership. It may be well to recall that Air Marshal (Retired) Asghar Khan had filed a case alleging that Inter Services and Military Intelligence Agencies had distributed money to politicians in a move to influence election results during 1990. Mr. Nawaz had been elected Prime Minister as a result of these polls. On October 19 last year, the Supreme Court had issued a 141 page verdict, directing authorities to initiate a transparent investigation and subsequent trial if sufficient evidence was found to exist against, amongst others, former Army Chief Gen Aslam Baig and former head of Inter-Services Intelligence Lieutenant General (Retired) Asad Durrani.

There are whispers to the effect that Federal Cabinet changes are in the offing. There are many guesses as to what these changes are likely to be, but sources say that we may not have to wait very long for the cat to come out of the bag. Another whisper doing the rounds is that PML-N may try to delay the local body elections in Punjab, KPK and Sindh, because it finds itself on a fairly unsteady footing with the electorate as a result of disillusioned voters and the inability of the Government in alleviating issues like inflation, CNG and loadshedding. It is also being said that the Government is awaiting funding from donors as this will be used to improve dollar parity and launching of high profile development schemes to secure grass roots electoral popularity.

Another whisper came our way from KPK, where Jamaat-e-Islami and PTI are embroiled in a behind the scenes struggle to wrest control of the Local Government Department currently with JI. Sources say that this is because of PTI’s desire to delay the Local Body Elections in order to spruce up their act and secure a victory. JI on the other hand can smell blood and want that the polls be held without delay.

There are some quarters that are citing the verification of thumb prints case as cause enough to unseat the Ruling Party and pave the way for a midterm election. While I am in favor of using NADRA technology to ascertain the veracity of controversial election results and unseating candidates on case to case basis, the prospect of midterm polls may be a single point ‘wish list’.

Whatever our political cauldron may brew up, we are passing through a critical period of democratic evolution. To be able to successfully negotiate a passage, we need a sustained demonstration of maturity, tolerance and selflessness from our political leadership, for anything to the contrary will be irrevocably disastrous.

The writer is a freelance columnist.