Night has fallen on Pakistan, without the marches called this Wednesday by Imran Jan having managed to reach the capital. But little matters to the ousted former prime minister, who once again promises a new dawn. And neither to his fans. "We will obey Imran. If he asks us to spend a sleepless night, we will do it. If he asks us to spend a whole year, we are also ready," says optician Nasir.
For now, the crowd he is accompanying may be satisfied that they have unlocked the containers placed by the police at the Attock Bridge, one of the key access points to Islamabad from the west. His column, from Khaiber-Pakhtunjua, is the largest and Jan himself has joined it, descending by helicopter. Others, such as the one from Lahore or, already at the foot of Islamabad, the one from Rawalpindi, have had to dodge everything type of obstacles, in addition to tear gas. The country's largest city, Karachi, is too far away to march on Islamabad, but there have also been rallies.
The government resulting from last month's no-confidence motion, supported by the Sharif family's PML-N party and the Bhutto-Zardari family's PPP, has taken Jan's threat to topple it seriously. The army has taken up positions in Parliament, the Supreme Court, the presidential palace, various ministries and other key points in Islamabad. The Pakistani capital, with less than a million inhabitants, was designed precisely for that mission. That of isolating the elite from the mass. And it is precisely on this insurmountable trench that Imran Jan's populist discourse rises like foam, even though he himself is a perfectly finished product of Aitchison College, the most elite educational institution in Lahore.
"This is a government of thieves," bellows Imran Jan, who made his fortune as a cricket star. And Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif trembles, as does his brother Nawaz, a fugitive in London. And the masses, who do not remember another politician who has not stolen hand over fist, go crazy.
The Pakistani government has acted as if the popular protest were little more than a coup in the making and has arrested more than 1,500 militants of Imran Khan's party. However, this very Wednesday, the courts have recognized the legality of the protest, although reserving peripheral spaces of the capital. Something that remains to be seen that Jan's hosts have to fulfill, especially if they approach the monstrous volume of the demonstrations immediately after his uneventful loss of the motion of censure. At the moment, he does not enjoy those numbers.
If you achieve them, everything is possible. The government, however, barely has a year to go before having to call elections. Above the political storm hovers, as always in Pakistan, the army. Although the military leadership had a lot to do with the rise of Imran Jan, whom they believed to be more manageable, they have now seen in the war in Ukraine an opportunity that should not be wasted to recover positions against the United States. "This is an import government," repeats Imran Jan.