Powerful circles were on board, according to insiders, and pressured both sides to make specific decisions.
Islamabad: PTI chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan surprised many on Thursday when he abruptly announced the end of his "Haqeeqi Azadi March" and issued a six-day deadline for the ruling coalition to announce an election date or he would come to the capital with a larger crowd next time.
The change of plans was unexpected and contradicted Imran's previous statements that he would not leave Islamabad unless the government gave him a date for the next elections.
However, things did not go as planned. In reality, what appeared to be a hasty withdrawal prompted various questions and sparked speculation that the decision was the consequence of behind-the-scenes events.
Powerful circles were on board, according to insiders, and urged both sides to make specific decisions, such as the PTI's entry into the capital and the end of the rally rather than a sit-in. They went on to say that everyone, especially the powerful, needed to save face and that it wasn't only about political parties.
The pressure was built, and unambiguous messages were sent to the strong stakeholders. With the government-PTI showdown, they claimed that they could not be bystanders for long, knowing full well the responsibility they would shoulder in the scenario.
"All political parties share the same feelings about the historical role of institutions in terms of understanding," a person close to the situation told The Express Tribune. "The major distinction is that political parties aren't all on the same ship."
He stated that the political parties were not now united but that there was concern that they may begin to expose the influential circles. "There is a lack of trust. At present, no one trusts the other."
According to the source, the secrets of the powerful circles could also be revealed.
"The truth can be exposed and that's what they don't wish to do." He stated that influential circles were behind the change of administration, and claimed that they wanted to keep their reputation and were looking to ensure that there was nothing wrong.
According to the source, there are great chances that the general elections will be held in October this year, just a month before the army chief retires.
They said that the speaker's office was utilized for meetings and may be used again to finalize the election date.
With October in mind, insiders and political watchers believe the government will stay in office until August to deliver the budget and repeal legislation on electoral reforms, the National Accountability Bureau, and other issues - a process that has already started.
A PTI leader responded to Imran's abrupt rally cancellation by declaring that he was "obligated to make that decision," citing serious grounds.
Nonetheless, he stated that it was a win-win situation for all parties involved. "Sometimes the numbers matter, sometimes the optics; last night's rally was more about optics," they remarked of the rally's magnitude.
Another PTI leader stated there were no plans to keep people there for longer and that the government's fear of a large crowd made them uneasy, which aided the PTI in changing its goal from conducting a sit-in to producing simply a power show.
He claimed that Imran also called off the march because he suspected there would be a clash between the public and law enforcement, particularly the army.
He questioned who summons the army in response to a few thousand people exercising their political and democratic rights, claiming that it was an attempt to set the public against the forces.
When he returned after six days, he claimed the plan to return was still intact and that he expected the top court to lift the ban at the next political meeting, giving PTI more leeway to make decisions. The source referenced Imran's address, in which he stated that people were also looking to the Supreme Court because permission for a peaceful demonstration is never rejected anywhere in the world.
Imran has been mobilizing across the country since his removal by a no-confidence resolution to build momentum against the government and drive it to call early elections, and the May 25 long march was meant to stay still until a date was determined. That, however, did not occur.
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated the doors were open for negotiations with the opposition, but he would not take dictation due to the long march and the request. The premier even promised to organize a committee to examine the future elections while speaking on the House floor.
Political watchers noted that while the budget and reforms were important, the ruling coalition was also taking its time to ensure that the influence of its actions faded before the elections, which could take place this October.