WELL PLAYED IMRAN
In 2007, Pakistan's then President, General Pervez Musharraf decided to take action against the extremist Islamists of his country stationed in Lal Masjid in Islamabad. There was a strong and brisk military operation and official numbers say around 154 militants were killed however some reports suggest the numbers could have been as high as 300. Either way, this was the first time Pakistan decided to move in against the Islamists.
Although it was only over a decade ago Pakistan has changed a lot since then. A lot of liberals, progressives and conservatives alike, all criticised Pervez Musharraf for killing his own people over some "American Dollars". Musharraf simply stated he could not allow any element in the country to challenge the writ of the state. Fast forward 10 years later, everyone now is questioning Imran Khan for not doing what Musharraf did. Imran was one of those people who criticised Pervez Musharraf for the operation and has repeatedly said that he would never use his own military against his own people. Maybe those words were haunting him hence he didn't take any military action or maybe he genuinely believes that one should never use force against his own people, no matter how problematic.
I have been quite charitable towards Imran Khan's political movement throughout his 22-year struggle however I cannot turn a blind eye to some of his mistakes along the way. He did play politics when the same miscreants stood up against Nawaz Sharif's government when they tried to change the Parliamentarian's oath. Imran should have stood by Nawaz Sharif's government but instead, he aligned himself with Khadim Rizvi. I understood his narrative of not using force against his own people including extremists which earned him the nickname of Taliban Khan from the liberals of Pakistan. I also understood why the extremists called him a "Zionist agent" because of his somewhat secular views in an otherwise conservative country. I understood and often claimed both the titles were unfair and irrational as he was neither a Zionist agent nor a Taliban sympathiser. He is what most Pakistanis are, deluded Muslims who think Islam is a fairy-tale of love and peace. This is why a lot of people are now confused why he didn't go beast-mode on the extremists led by Khadim Rizvi but at the same time cracking down on Khadim Rizvi through normal law and order process. This again confirms my view of him being an idealist who believes in law and order and at the same time believing Islam is a religion of peace. He thinks liberals and extremists of Pakistan don't understand Islam, a view every Muslim share i.e. "Only I understand Islam".
In this current saga of Asia Bibi, Imran has played the best shot of his political innings so far. On the surface, he did an agreement with the extremists to disperse them off the streets of Pakistan but in the background, he has started arresting the extremists. Khadim Rizvi's twitter handle was blocked today upon the request of Pakistan Government. The FIRs have been lodged against Khadim Rizvi and his cronies. Khadim Rizvi must be confused as to what is going on, he just signed an agreement with the government yet his men and himself are now being arrested. The only concession that Imran's Government has seemingly made, is not to allow Asia Bibi leave the country which in my honest opinion was never going to happen in the first place as the extremists held the right to review the Supreme Court's decision. An old Punjabi saying perfectly applies to this situation "show the left hand but hit with the right"
This is what is going to happen:
Majority of Pakistan's population will support the Supreme Court's decision
A review of Asia Bibi's verdict will go in the favour of Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi will be allowed to leave Pakistan
The extremists will be threatened to either accept the decision or face possible assassination.
If they accept the decision, they will probably be allowed to go scot free. All will be forgotten.
How the extremists will respond, remains to be seen. These Punjabi extremists are radicals but with not a lot of weapons. They wouldn't be able to disrupt Pakistan like the Taliban of Pakistan who managed to kill 70,000 ordinary Pakistanis in their terrorist attacks. Pakistan military, however, did end up eliminating them. TLP would be reminded of the Taliban's fate and I think they won't stand up against the Pakistani establishment.