Aug 28 2014
A political standoff in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad continues as talks between opposition parties and the government are at a standstill. In the past few weeks, the liberal political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by cricket star turned politician, Imran Khan, and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek party, a moderate Muslim group, led by the cleric, Tahirul Qadri, have joined forces to call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down. They accuse Sharif of corruption, killings, and election fraud, and also of condoning US drone attacks in the border regions. The influential Pakistani army has remained fairly silent on the matter.
Khan has been delivering speeches daily, standing on shipping container across from the Parliament. He says he will remain until Prime Minister Sharif resigns. His followers have been sleeping out in the streets of Islamabad. Meanwhile, his colleague Mr. Qadri has announced today as a day of revolution after declaring that talks with the government have failed. But there are also reports that Qadri may ask his followers to return home.
Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center Survey of Pakistan has concluded that the political stalemate in the capital may not be reflected popularly. The survey found that the Prime Minister enjoys broad support of 64%, just 2% less than a year ago. Imran Khan is at an approval rating of 53%, 17% less than a year ago. However the Pakistani Army is stunningly popular at 87%. Extremist groups like the Taliban were very unpopular at only 8%. Most Pakistanis are apparently still unhappy with the overall direction of their country.
GUEST: Rafia Zakaria is a columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper. She is a Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy at Indiana University and the author of the forthcoming book “The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan.”
Click here to read Zakaria’s recent published article about Pakistan.