On March 25, 1992 Imran Khan and his team attracted around 87,182 spectators to watch them go into, and win, the final of Cricket World Cup against England at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Nineteen years later, Imran Khan, and his 15 years old political party, was able to amass 100,000 (or 200,000 depending on which source you are quoting) supporters at a single physical location, first time in the history of PTI.
Imran Khan has selected Punjab as his battleground for the next general elections, whenever they may happen. Rightly so, because he is from Punjab. However, the Secretary General of PTI, Mr. Arfi Alvi, is based in Karachi. While this gives PTI a national outlook, it may backfire in terms of regional politics and tactical decision making at local level. For example, supporters of Mian Azhar, ex-Governor Punjab and recent PTI recruit, may lobby for him to achieve the second highest position in the party. PTI cannot compete with PPP or Jamat-e-Islami in this context, as having topmost positions in geographically, and politically, distant locations may dilute its impact at local level.
The gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, has done wonders for Imran Khan, and PTI, giving moral boosters as well as opening new avenues in the power corridors. One such event is Imran’s 3-day visit to China, on the official request of Chinese government. Analysts believe that this gathering will also have a stimulative effect on political workers, and leaders, of other parties who are currently disgruntled with their top brass and are looking out for options to either jump ships or use as bargaining chips with their current bosses.
Some analysts are of the opinion that PPP will be the ultimate beneficiary of Imran Khan’s clash with Sharif Brothers, as PTI will dent the vote bank of PML-N, leaving the ground open for PPP to take a lead in the polls. Others say that this new wave of support and recognition for Imran Khan is establishment backed, in order to confront, and contain, PML-N in Punjab.
Whatever is the case, one thing is for sure that Imran Khan has made the battle cry and now its time for Sharif Brothers to come with their matching response, otherwise it will be Mian sahib jaan diyoo, sadee baree aan diyo.