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Raza Rumi’s balanced analysis of Imran Khan and Dr Qadri’s sit-ins against Nawaz Sharif government

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  • Shifting alliances

    Such political instability is not new to Pakistan. A lack of consensus on how the country has to be governed has plagued Pakistan’s history with cyclical patterns of military rule and weak civilian governments. With the current protests, such schisms have captured public imagination through a powerful electronic media where the very rationale of democracy is being debated often in an adverse manner. The protests are unique for they are being televised into the homes of millions of Pakistanis and thus creating a broader impact.

    Another important dimension of the current mobilisation is a comeback of the Barelvi sect adhered to by the majority. Dr Qadri is a leading cleric of this relatively moderate order and has authored a major treatise against suicide bombings. In addition, the Shiite political party, Majlis e Wahadat e Muslimeen (MWM) has also joined the protests ostensibly against the policy of appeasement of armed sections of more hardline Deobandi groups which legitimise attacks on Shia Muslims and Sufi shrines.

    This is why a proscribed extremist organisation protested in favour of the current government. If this configuration has the patronage of the establishment – as some suggest – then a policy shift maybe underway. The state’s alliance with the hardline jihad groups began in 1980s during the Afghan war and it has now expanded within the country.

    Pakistan: Will instability topple democracy?
    Even if PM Nawaz Sharif survives the current crisis, his government will be permanently weakened.
    Last updated: 28 Aug 2014 16:24