When life hands you lemons Amidst all the problems Pakistan faces, it is good to see a moment of levity entering politics. Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif is known for his easy manner and his sense of humour was on display on Friday when he cheekily invited Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan for tea at the PMâ€™s residence to discuss the â€˜Captainâ€™sâ€™ issues with the government. While inaugurating a 100 megawatt solar power plant in Bahawalpur, the PM said that he had visited Imran at his residence in Bani Gala and that instead of protesting, the correct thing to do would be for Mr Khan to return the favour. What, asked the PM, was Mr Khan protesting: measures against corruption, the decrease in the price of the dollar, or the countryâ€™s current path of progress? His jape drew laughs from the audience but â€˜Captainâ€™ was un-amused and he appears even more serious about playing his protest card in Islamabad today. Even the airwaves were full of advertisements featuring a sombre Imran asking people to join his protest. The PTI chief alleges â€˜massiveâ€™ ballot rigging in certain constituencies that his party lost in the elections last year; immediately after the polls â€˜Captainâ€™ said his party had evidence of rigging in 25 constituencies. He is still pursuing the allegations on four of them. The opposition has mostly criticised the move, saying rigging allegations undermine Pakistanâ€™s fledgling democratic institutions and that protests are ineffective since investigating rigging lies under the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies and the Election Commission of Pakistan. The only other party that said it will join the protest is Canadian-returned cleric Tahirul Qadriâ€™s Pakistan Awami Tehreek, which currently holds no National Assembly (NA) seats. In response, Mr Khan only said that the PM should refrain from extending such invitations during political rallies. It seems he was hoping to be spared some leg-pulling. However, the PMâ€™s tongue-in-cheek remark was in the tradition of turning the tables when handed a political â€˜lemonâ€™, something the PTI chief apparently has yet to learn. As a relative newcomer to politics, his anger has taken on a pattern; he throws a tantrum and then Mr Sharif mollifies him, as happened when negotiations with the terrorists began in February. While the PMâ€™s remark was humorous, it showed a sense of maturity since, like other politicians, he knows that it is better not to air oneâ€™s dirty laundry in public. Accusations can rebound and no politician is without some skeletons in their closet. Mr Khanâ€™s party performed surprisingly well during the elections, despite not having widespread grassroots support like the established parties. This probably grated on Mr Khan, since he was hoping for a metaphorical â€˜tsunamiâ€™ that would sweep him into power. However, it was only his partyâ€™s third election run in its history, and one of those elections was held to validate the regime of a military dictator, former president Pervez Musharraf. The fact is that while Mr Khan claims rigging casts doubt on the governmentâ€™s mandate, the four constituencies he is contesting, even should allegations of rigging prove true, will have no effect on the make-up of the current NA, since the PML-N has a large majority in the house. Then too, if Mr Khan was so sure of his allegations and doubted the outcome of the election, then he is acting very late. If the results were unacceptable to him from the start, his party should never have formed the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) or taken its seats in the NA. Having done so and only now crying foul, protesting the results appears disingenuous and seems to be a way for Mr Khan to bolster his flagging popularity by returning to the issues that brought voters, particularly young urban voters, to his banner. That segment has been disillusioned by his stance on the Taliban â€” whom he called â€˜brothersâ€™ â€” and by a lack of visibly better governance in KP. It looks like the protest will end up being a sideshow that will not disturb the government. Perhaps then the â€˜Captainâ€™ will take up the PMâ€™s offer, though given that the summer is here, he may want some lemonade instead of tea. When life hands you lemons ******************************************* An interesting commentary on Pakistan politics. Nawaz goes on merrily milking Pakistan and Imran can only bleat in pathetic disgust.