Imran Khan’s antigovernment efforts are unlikely to succeed.
In his televised speech on Sunday evening, Imran Khan asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign from office over the Panama Papers scandal. Otherwise, Khan warned, he and his cadres would march on the palatial Sharif estate in Raiwind, Lahore. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief has also demanded an extensive inquiry, spearheaded by the country’s chief justice, into the allegations against Sharif’s family.
Pakistan is no Iceland, Ukraine, Malta or the U.K., where elected leaders have come under immense public pressure following the Panama disclosures. Several factors do not help Khan’s cause. The information about the Sharifs’ offshore fortunes is hardly a revelation, and Khan’s own house is in utter disorder.
Some of the sheen was taken off Khan’s speech when news channels showed footage of Khan preparing to speak and losing his cool with the party crowd. Until Sunday, Khan had also been undecided about the constitution of the inquiry commission. He had earlier favored an inquiry by a retired inspector-general of police, but dropped the idea. He then wanted a probe by the National Accountability Bureau. Khan also has to deal with his party’s internal discord: his inner circle is at each other’s throats jostling over positions within the PTI.
Khan’s last sit-in, historic for its stamina, failed because the former cricketer was unable to rally other opposition parties onside. Since these parties are still unwilling to go the whole hog against Sharif, Khan’s threatened agitation against Sharif is highly unlikely to bear fruit.