Each one of us as a citizen of the republic has a right to protest. We have a right to shout, yell, raise slogans and take to the streets whenever we choose to exercise our freedom of expression and association. We have a right to organise ourselves in political parties, social institutions and cultural movements.

Therefore, the holding of the protest rallies and sit-ins of the PTI and PAT in Islamabad are well within the remit of fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution and guaranteed to citizens like in any democratic constitution in any country for that matter. However, I, as a citizen of the same republic to which the protesters belong, have a right to contest the representative authority the protesters and their leadership have bestowed upon themselves. None of the two parties represent me.

While they say that they represent the feelings, thoughts, desires and aspirations of 180 million Pakistanis, I say that they do not. They have nothing whatsoever to do with the feelings, thoughts, desires and aspirations of the majority of Pakistanis. I respect the fact that the two parties have a following but the two combined together still form a minority opinion. This self-proclaimed leadership of 180 million by both Qadri and Khan has to be challenged as it has no basis. The numbers of votes cast in my constituency, which is one out of the 272 where direct elections are held for the National Assembly, thoroughly outnumber the total strength of protesters in both the allies (combined).

Dr Tahirul Qadri, the self-canonised saint of Islam, has a past. Like every saint has a past. By the way, he also has a present. He has a cult following. But that cult has not even a meekly significant following in Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata. Even in Punjab and Islamabad, the majority – even those belonging to his sub-sect – do not support him. He has his spiritual disciples; and committed as they may be, they are not political workers per se. There is no denying that his slogans are inclusive and pluralistic in nature. His diatribes against the Sharifs apart, which become personal at times, his message and ability to organise a group of people find appeal among some of our progressive thinkers and commentators. But they overlook that his choice of revolutionary vanguard to support him in bringing about a revolution in this godforsaken country include Chaudhrys Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, Ahmed Raza Kasuri. This makes me doubt his knowledge and understanding of a revolution, if not his intentions. Sans Sardar Assef, all have served dictatorial regimes with a lot of fervour and acquired power and pelf through undemocratic means.

Then he also has an ardent sympathiser in the shape of Sheikh Rasheed, supporter or every usurper. When the PML-N usurped power through the back door Sheikh Rasheed was with them. When Musharraf ousted them, he jumped on the new ‘king’s party’ bandwagon and became a minister again under him. His entertainment value for talk show hosts and their viewers grossly outweighs the votes he struggles to win in his home constituency.

The MQM, a close ally of the previous military ruler and notorious for its ferocious political demeanour in its stronghold, is also seen as a fraternal party by Qadri. None of these people represent the majority of Pakistanis.

Dr Qadri has the gall to compare himself with Karl Marx, Lenin and Mao. Goodness, gracious me. Do Qadri’s disciples in this country where a lame and distorted course of Pakistan Studies is taught in schools know a wee bit about the life and works of the true revolutionaries, whether you agree with them or not? Their physical political struggle aside, they contributed to and developed philosophy and political theory.

Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao and others like them have serious academic and intellectual work spread over scores of volumes each. They have delved deep into understanding, analysing and then proposing solutions in areas varying from philosophy and political economy to sociology and culture. They do not simply offer a pamphlet of demands and desires and build a revolution on slogans penned down in a leaflet.

The only right demand that Dr Qadri must be supported for is about the Model Town carnage. The perpetrators must be brought to the book, be they the chief executive of the province or his senior most officials. No government has a right to kill unarmed citizens, to whichever political, social or religious denomination they belong to.

The other set of protesters belong to a political party that mainstreamed itself and decided to pursue its political agenda through electoral means. But they thought they would win the very first round they properly played. Many of their demands about electoral reform are correct. These were made in the past and in the recent past by other political parties and civil society institutions. But the evidence they bring forth to prove that they would have won the elections and formed governments in Punjab and at the federal level can neither be fully endorsed nor substantiated.

The platform for resolving these matters remains parliament where most, if not all, opinions and points of view are represented. Even if one party has an absolute majority during this electoral cycle, other parties exist in the two houses of parliament. Their current action undermines parliament and the supremacy of the constitution.

They have a right to make demands, to protest and to rally, even if they want to ask for the moon. But the means they choose to bring about reforms is something not so many of us agree with. The course they choose is devoid of any serious class analysis, understanding of some of our deep seated political issues and contradictions like the civil-military cleavage, the economic disparity in crude capitalism under which we live and the international economic pressures. Their mantra for change does not represent us all.

Imran Khan, like Dr Qadri, is surrounded by feudal, capitalist, spiritual leader types and wheeling dealing politicos like Tareen, Kasuri, Hashmi, Qureshi, Khattak and Khakwani, who are seasoned in matters of age-old political craft. Sheikh Rasheed not only sympathises with him like with Qadri, he is among the key leaders of the PTI protest. So who are the change-makers with Khan?

If these people are only standing above the container flanking Khan and the change-makers are the youth down below then I hope the yuppies from Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Islamabad are ready to change their lifestyle, have clean financial transactions from now on and alter their social conduct before asking others to change. I also hope that the children of privilege clamouring for change, whose parents were senior bureaucrats, military officers or businessmen, will first ask their fathers how the wealth they possess was amassed.

The new face on the PTI block, Afzal Khan, must be taken seriously. His allegations should be thoroughly investigated as he did not have any proof to offer in the television appearance either. Whoever found guilty including him must be penalised by the judicial commission formed recently to look into the conduct of 2013 general elections.

Let the parliamentary committee on electoral reform and the judicial commission investigate the last elections. If the impasse continues, the Sharifs may lose but the innings will be declared for Imran and his party without consulting him like he declared Javed Miandad at 280 not out without consulting him when the greatest Pakistani batsman was about to knock a triple century. Someone else decides this time around though.

The writer is a poet and author based in Islamabad.