A fractured democratic state disqualified another prime minister, another former PM ousted from the electoral race, Pakistans' political history endured another disqualification, conviction and arrest of a popular Prime minister. Here history is urged to repeat and every time it is repeated, it shows that we did not learn anything. The disqualification of former Prime Minister Imran Khan for five years blatantly exposed how undemocratic Pakistan is as a state.
The conviction of former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan in the corruption case of Tosha Khana has barred him from taking part in the electoral process for five years. The future of democracy seems bleak, as political parties' leaders are not democratic themselves. The menace of the continuity of disqualifications of former prime ministers never came to an end. To remove the popular deposed leaders from the upcoming political landscape has remained the typical tactic of the state institutions.
With the session courts' verdict over Tosha Khana case made Imran Khan fourth Minister who faced jail after being prosecuted on the name of so-called accountability. The disqualification of Imran Khan pushed him against the wall, as it happened to PML N's supremo Nawaz Sharif before the months of 2018 elections. It has written on the wall that Imran Khan would be out of the elections as the powerful institutions were tightening the noose around him as he has been stuck in more than 180 cases in different courts.
Imran Khans' popularity graph has been rising after his removal from the premiership last year in April 2022. Imran Khan whose popularity among the people is unprecedented retains a loyalt following amongst his followers. Their support for him has not been dented by PTI leaders' failure in establishing rule of law, curtailing corruption on the premise that he entered into politics, and failing in bringing powerful ones under law. He did not fulfil the promise of 'Tabdeeli' by bringing reforms in the judiciary, education and police sector during his tenure, which spanned almost 3.5 years.
Imran Khan who has been manoeuvring his cult followers to get them Haqeeqi azadi, is now looking for his individual azadi from jail. The same Khan who knew how to take followers in the clutches of words, now has been taken away from his people. Khan did not live up to the expectations of people who believed him that he would bring Tabdeeli in the system. He came to power in 2018 by making tall claims and promises, ended up with the same promises to fulfil if he will be given another chance.
Imran Khan who promised the nation to come in power to change the fate of this nation but failed in doing so. He spoke about Riyasat e Madina, and compared his struggle with Jihad. His 3.5 year tenure was full of contradictions, U- Turns and anarchy. He criticised his opponents by calling them Chor, crooks and money launderers and during his tenure blamed the opposition for all the mess that country had been facing, instead of rectifying the flaws, fixing the problems.
Imran Khan has been complaining about the system whether he is in power or out of it. After being removed last year he has been complaining of there being two legal systems for the rich and poor. To criticise the system after ruling for almost four years, would it not be a charge sheet against himself. Imran Khan's era is full of oppression against his political party's leaders, whose purpose is to put all his dissenters behind the bars. He threatened the opponents that he would put them in jails where they would not be facilitated with air conditioners and they would be urged to take sleeping pills to get sleep.
Imran Khan's stubborn behaviour, ego and revenge based politics came to the point where his undemocratic conviction of disqualification from politics and electoral process are under discussion by few ones as rest of the people are believing that he would endure what he wanted for others to endure. When in power, he supported the undemocratic powers. He remained happy and satisfied with the Establishment's role in politics when it supported him to go through difficult tasks but as the Establishment receded its support from him, he asked it to facilitate him and to not remain neutral.
Imran Khan is now the centre of debate, his conviction has been termed as Karma from his opponent political parties' leaders. With the Toshakhana verdict, the politicians of that time's opposition who endured jails in his reign are now saying "What goes around, comes around."
Moreover, the fate of democracy remains unlucky as ever. There are numerous questions that come across everyone's mind about why Pakistans' Prime Ministers have been so vulnerable to being convicted on corruption charges and disqualified from doing politics.
Prime Ministers have been in the vicious cycle of disqualification and arrest. From Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto all faced arrest and conviction in cases ranging from treason to corruption. The big question that lies before the political and democratic future of the state is that would the establishment not allow the courts to lift his conviction? Everyone is convinced that courts and judges are the stooges of the establishment and they are supposed to do what they are asked to do by powerful institutions.
The joy shown upon the arrest of Imran Khan's disqualification by PML-N leaders and others is deplorable and the key reason why politicians have failed in bolstering democracy is because political parties don't stand with other politicians when they are being exploited unconstitutionally. It shows that politicians did not learn from history.
Journalists are raising voices about why politicians always get punished on corruption charges and why members of the establishment are not brought to justice. Imran Khan's disqualification should make the politicians rethink how much political differences lie among them but they should not allow external powers to interfere in their political affairs. And finally, the Establishment needs to revisit their policies for the political and economic stability of the state otherwise the uncertainty would cause irreparable loss.