Clearly it was not enough for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to open the Pandora’s Box just once. For little, if anything, about what other opposition leaders said was really different from what they have been saying all along, at least since the last election, but the way in which Nawaz Sharif has thrown down the gauntlet has surely redefined the way politics is going to be practiced in Pakistan from now on. Even his allies in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), sitting on the stage in Gujranwala, must have been rattled. Surely the government must have been left thinking that it would have been better not to allow the speech to begin with.
Now the ball, as they say, is in the government’s court. So far senior ministers, even the prime minister, have dismissed it in the usual way by playing down the significance of the show. But it will not be so easy to divert everybody’s attention from everything that was said. For the people are indeed burdened very heavily by high prices, reduced wages and not much light at the end of the tunnel. The government has promised on numerous occasions that it will crack down on all mafias responsible for the artificial price hike in essential items, just like the prime minister vowed to do yet again just a few days ago, but these promises have not translated into any sort of action in more than two years and people seem to have had enough of it.