Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
To my mind, it is becoming inevitable that Vendemiarie is approaching in Pakistan.
Let me explain.
On 13 Vendemiarie, that is, 5th October 1795, a ‘whiff of grapeshot’ from Gen Napoleon’s troops dispersed the 30, 000 strong Paris mob which was marching on the National Convention.
A similar situation seems to be developing in Pakistan.
Former Prime Prime Minister Imran Khan, who came into power in August 2018 and was ousted by a vote of no confidence in April this year, seems desperate to again become Prime Minister. He has been holding rally after rally, and the recent bye elections in Pakistan, in which his party, the PTI. won resounding successes, makes it look very likely that if national elections are held now his party will sweep the polls and he will again come back to power.
Hence he has been demanding early elections and has been putting all kinds of pressure, including holding massive demonstrations.
But for that very reason the ruling PDM coalition, consisting of mainly the two other large parties, the PMLN and the PPP, are refusing to hold early elections, and are determined to postpone elections until the 5-year term of the present National Assembly expires in August next year ( elections must be held under the Pakistan Constitution within 60 days thereafter, that is, by October 2023 ).
A large section of the Pakistani public seems to believe in Imran Khan’s claim that external forces (meaning America ) ousted his government, and by a conspiracy, a foreign-backed government was imposed in Pakistan. They also regard Imran Khan to be honest, while the leaders of the PMLN and PPP are perceived as corrupt. Consequently, huge crowds often gather in Imran Khan’s rallies, and probably he has started to believe that pressure from these crowds will force the present government to relent and announce early elections. So this pressure will be increased in the coming days.
Imran Khan has also attacked many Pakistan army generals, particularly the former army chief Gen Bajwa and the ISI, and this has not been taken kindly by the army.
Perhaps Imran Khan thinks that it is the army which is supporting the present Pakistan government, and he can cow down the Pakistan army with his crowds. What he forgets is that power grows out of the barrel of a gun, as was demonstrated in Paris in Vendemiarie in 1795.
When he orders his crowds to march on Parliament or tries to bring Pakistan to a standstill ( towards which his movement seems to be heading ), the whiff of grapeshot will surely be utilized to deal with the situation.