A good show, if nothing else

Lahore, the metropolis city of Punjab, is setting up for two big rallies end of October. Although both are anti-government conventions, it is each other that they are competing with, not the Pakistan Peoples Party.

On one side is the provincial government, the PML-N, scheduled to have a rally while on the other, newcomer Imran Khan’s PTI, with a show on the 30th.

The pre-match taunts have already begun. A government, asks Imran Khan audibly, is taking out a rally against the government? He has an agenda. Right, it is the central government that the League’s rally is against but modesty has to be upheld if one’s party is in a government, any government in the country. The next election, after all, is two years away; this is too early for campaigns.

But it is not the issue of etiquette on which the PTI chief bases his agenda. According to him, the PPP-League collective is a faceless interlock where you don’t know where one starts and the other ends; Noora-kushti. He claims himself only opposition in the country. That in itself is a problematic situation, for a host of problems, but one that he is entitled to acquire.

The pleas of the government not to hold the rallies and conventions, because of the security situation and the death of Begum Nusrat Bhutto, weren’t thought thoroughly. Naturally, there is to be much mudslinging against the party at both rallies but this is a time to sit back and enjoy the shows. Lahore is PML-N’s country anyway while the PPP doesn’t have much to lose.

Are these going to be fair displays of power? Obviously not. One of the shows, it has to be stated vigorously, is by the province’s ruling party. The other, as un-denied rumors keep doing the rounds, has found the favor of the powers.

Formerly the latter decides to start footing the bill, there’s enough money to provide logistical arrangements even for the high-maintenance supporters of the one-man party.

Even in fairer settings, rally numbers do not necessarily translate into electoral outcomes. But in the upcoming ones, the numbers will be indicative of nothing substantive by any means.