The prevailing political uncertainty has taken a social, political and economic toll on the country. But even having protesters paralysed the avenue of power doesn’t seem to be enough incentive for the prime minister and his kitchen cabinet to sit up and take notice.
The Nawaz League, however, is still up to its old tricks. For a party accused of being undemocratic in its decision-making, it hasn’t changed or even tried to change over the past two months. The same half-a-dozen people who called all the shots two months ago – except the inexplicably absent interior minister – are still the ones tasked with key decisions.
For a party decried for its tendencies towards nepotism, they haven’t changed one bit. Blue-eyed boys are still ordering expensive cars, getting their relatives installed on key positions or are simply above the law.
Party MNAs and MPAs – ignored and indignant – have their own agendas and their own back-up plans. No one cares to tell their leadership that a new wind has begun to blow. The PML-N is not as popular as it once was. The mandate is shattered and the slogan ‘Go Nawaz Go’ has taken on a life of its own.
Dependence on the bureaucracy, perhaps the party’s most trusted ally in this term, has distanced them from the man on the street. So much so that even when they have tried to organize rallies to counter the PTI, things have almost always degenerated into violence and they have not been able to match the sheer appeal of the protesters’ spirit.
With every passing day, it is looking as if the PML-N leaders do not have a plan to get themselves out of the hole they have dug for themselves. Indecisiveness, hesitation, confusion and last-minute decisions have become the hallmark of PML-N governance.
They have also grown overconfident after the joint session of parliament. But even within other parties, the tide is turning. The People’s Party, faced with a potential exodus in Punjab, is looking to regroup. Criticised bitterly for siding too much with the government during the recent parliamentary proceedings, they are looking to dispel the dissatisfaction and Bilawal has personally hit the road to try and consolidate their position.
Nawaz has tried the patience of nearly every friend he could have had. The army, the courts, the international community; all are weary of his autocratic nature. People who looked to him as someone who had the panache for leadership – being a third-time PM –now stand disillusioned. Two previous terms in office, albeit abortive, seem to have taught him nothing.
The country is in the grip of a grave political crisis, but everyone, apart from the ruling party, seems to recognize that.