Sleepwalking To Disaster?

Sleepwalking To Disaster?
Imran Khan, the political maverick and blue-eyed boy of the establishment, managed to grab power. He did this by the active help, guidance, support and connivance of the immensely powerful establishment of Pakistan. He managed to emerge from an obscure political wilderness because he was idealised and supported by the power behind the throne, the powers that be and the ultimate source of all political and administrative power in Pakistan. Once in the driving seat of the power machine, he managed to alienate and disappoint his powerful mentors simply because he ruined the economy, played havoc with the foreign policy, damaged the social fabric and made a joke of moral values.

After being thrown out by a democratic and constitutional method, he now started to abuse and accuse his own benefactors and sponsors – much like biting the hand that fed him. His concocted story of a foreign conspiracy against him now stands fully exposed and yet he does not tire of shouting from the rooftops about the damage done to his regime and literally begging his former benefactors to come to his rescue once again. After getting a cold shoulder from his former benefactors, the proponent of Riasat-i-Madinah has started spewing fire and brimstone blaming and targeting his former sponsors, with the claim of a great betrayal never seen before in the murky political world of this country.

After the long political innings in power by PML-N and the PPP, the people of Pakistan were sick and tired of dynastic rule and the sheer incompetence and corruption of the two major political parties. Imran Khan was perceived as the knight in shining amour: the saviour and future hope of the country. He was recognised as the cricket world cup hero, builder of a cancer hospital and as an honest and patriotic political leader. And he was at the apex of his popularity by the time of the elections in 2018.

Before entering the office of the Prime Minister, he was not saddled with any past bad governance, corruption or his now world-famous U-turns. He was not yet associated in the public imagination with his wealthy “ATMs” like Aleem Khan, Jahangir Tareen or Swati. He was without the excess baggage of unsavory characters like Farah Gogi, Shehzad Akbar, Zulfi Bokhari, Khusro Bakhtiar, Shahbaz Gill and Usman Buzdar. He was certainly without the blemish of any political or financial controversy.

Strangely enough, by now he is neck deep in serious controversies and an established violator of the constitution. The Supreme Court judgment on the dismissal of the resolution of no confidence has branded him as a blatant violator of the law and the constitution. The ECP decision about the foreign funding case is proof of his amoral attitude, the embezzlement of gifts from the Tosha Khan and his attempts play with the diplomatic cypher to save his neck and compromise state secrets have secured him a reputation not too different from how he describes his opponents: cheats and frauds.

Imran Khan’s past political career is nothing to brag about. In spite of his popularity as a cricketer and social worker, he failed to get even a single seat in 1997, and managed to get just one seat in the 2002 elections. He behaved like an opportunist social climber when he did his best to show loyalty and support for General Musharraf by his support of his foreign policies and the War on Terror. He supported and led a campaign for his success in the 2002 presidential referendum. Bowing down to the military regime, he asked the then DG ISI to provide him with some electables in order to win elections and become the Prime Minister. Pervez Musharraf ignored all overtures from Imran Khan and threw his lot with the PML-Q of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervez Elahi. He now turned against the Chaudhries of Gujrat, going to the extent of calling Pervez Elahi the biggest Daku of Punjab. And ironically the same Daku of Punjab is running the PTI-backed provincial government in Punjab. The person he calls “Diesel” and “corrupt” received his vote against Mir Zafarullah Jamali of the PML-Q in 2002 for the election of the Prime Minister.

Winds of change began blowing for Imran Khan in 2010. The powerful establishment of Pakistan now decided to adopt him as their protégé and project him as the third force to counter the political power of the two main parties, i.e. the PPP and PML-N. Imran and his PTI were now launched on 30 October 2011, the venue being the grounds of the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore, and his benefactors now proclaimed him as the only option to save Pakistan. Some media channels and TV anchors were now engaged to build up his political image and many electable were roped in to pump up his vote bank. Soon he had the blessings of some very wealthy political stalwarts like Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Shafquat Mahmoud and Azam Swati. The idea was to get him elected Prime Minister in 2013 but unfortunately the PML-N very adroitly patched up with the establishment and they remained out of the political process.

Nawaz Sharif became PM and Imran Khan won the provincial government of KP. The Chaudhries of Gujrat drew closer to Imran Khan and Maulana Tahir-ul-Qadri was imported from Canada for the PTI-led dharna to topple the government. The parliament and the PTV were physically assaulted by the PTI workers but they were not prosecuted. The PTI regime in KP was accused of massive scandals like the BRT, Billion Tee Tsunami, Malam Jabba, etc. but they enjoyed the protection of their benefactors. To clear the way for their favourite, the Powers That Be exploited scandals like Dawn Leaks and Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from the office of the PM – and even from the presidentship of his own political party. Finally, in the 2018 elections, the Result Transmission System or RTS failed to perform. To cut a long story short, the all-powerful establishment was successful in promoting Imran Khan from political obscurity of no seats in 1997, one seat in 2002, no seat in 2008 to the level of KP government in 2013, the Federal government in 2018, the GB government in 2020 and the AJK government in 2021.

By the end of 2022, Imran Khan’s popularity has reached dizzying heights: it has become a political cult with hero worship of the highest order. He is now at the level of some great political cults and absolute dictators of recent history. The recent spectacle of taking oath from his followers is reminiscent of the Nazi era in Germany when Adolf Hitler took the oath of allegiance from his fanatic followers. His threat of a massive march and siege of Islamabad is now nearing reality and the fear of a complete breakdown of law and order is staring us in the face. The fanatic followers of Imran Khan appear to be like children in the mythical story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

His promise of a utopian Riasat-i-Madinah and a country free of corruption, governed by the rule of law and enjoying immense prosperity proved to be false. He may now be successful in leading the youth of this country to destruction, like the flute-playing Pied Piper of Hamelin.