The stolen march
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Separately, Imran Khan, who himself has ridden a wave of popular discontent to move from the fringe to the political centre, also rejected Qadri's appeal to join him at the sit-in in Islamabad — Khan was perhaps wary of throwing his weight behind a dissident who wants to derail the electoral process, which is Khan's own realistic way of attaining power for his party.
By keeping their eye on the need for the continuity of the democratic process, instead of letting their antipathy towards the Pakistan Peoples Party-led federal government get the better of them, opposition leaders, and Nawaz Sharif in particular, have formed a strong defensive wall against extra-constitutional tinkering in Pakistan.
So, for now, the democratic transition remains on track. But President Asif Ali Zardari appears adamant that parliament will carry on, as close as possible to its end of term in mid-March. That is just a few weeks away now, but it may be time enough for another crisis to hit the democratic order. The Qadri bullet may have been dodged, but few expect there to be no further shots fired between now and election time.
The writer is an Islamabad-based assistant editor with 'Dawn'
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