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November 16, 2014

The PTI’s hatred for all


November 16, 2014


Politicians commonly attack their opponents because at the end of the day, they have to compete against and beat them in order to win power. Unfortunately, to this end, too many depend less on their own credible achievements and more on discrediting, demeaning and delegitimising their political opponents and competitors.
On the other hand, media commentators, analysts and opinion-makers, while not expected to be objective, are meant to offer an independent perspective. Such analysis should not resort to name-calling, personalisation, accusations and irresponsible claims.
Accordingly, this article should not be characterising Imran Khan and his followers as permanent or fundamental haters of opposing activists, feminists, liberals, Christians, Ahmadis or any minorities or indeed of PTI-critics. However, when a political stance becomes a consistent pattern and revealing thought-process, then it is worthy of challenge and serious objection by calling it what it is. The PTI harbours a clear and revealing hatred for practically all people who do not support the PTI, for ‘lesser’ or non-Muslims and liberal women and their feminised politics.
The recent spate of contempt for Pakistani individuals and institutions, as expressed not just by Imran Khan but also his party’s official spokesmen and women (which include entertainers and celebrities as key thinkers), is not just a symptom of political hatred, it is revealing of the fundamental base of the PTI’s politics.
Many have commented on the social media misbehaviour of the PTI supporters. However, public commentary, statements, positions and accusations are part of the formal and on-the-record discourse. These statements and positions also make history – a discipline that the PTI leadership is critically deficient in and which allows them to make it all up as they stumble along their unravelling.
While many amongst us have been scathingly critical of the same institutions (the judiciary, the

Election Commission, the media, NGOs) and even the leadership of the PML-N and the PPP, the difference is that the purpose of critique is always to lend ideas so as to improve these or enhance their functions and strengthen justice, service delivery, democracy, information dissemination, education or rights for the people. It has not been to derail, destroy or denigrate just because we aren’t getting our way. Different from criticism, critique does two things – it points out specific existing problems in any system or text and/or it points out what is missing from these altogether.
Unfortunately, the PTI leadership offers neither critique nor criticism. Instead, its analysis depends on accusations, indictments, threats and an alternative that is defined by the replacement of existing governance with their own party, instead. This is why the call of the ‘revolution’ (that is fast becoming a compromise) is still holding on to the confused and negative slogan of ‘Go Nawaz Go’ even though the PM’s resignation is no longer considered the path to liberation. Similarly, the slogan for ‘Aavay Aavay Imran’ defies logic because he is already in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and, unless there’s a military coup or the party is actively rather than symbolically resigning, is going to stay there for the next few years.
The deflation of the party’s outer apparatus comprising dharnas and political performances by way of slogans, song and dance has revealed an ugly and startling ideological core. The essence of the PTI shows no inclusive or pluralistic thinking but instead exposes the instinctive self-love and sense of privilege and superiority that its leaders spout daily.
This attitude leads it to attack chief justices and judges rather than critique the specific judgements or lacunae in the judiciary or of procedural law. It leads to attacks on media channels that do not actively support the PTI, while blindly supporting the most vicious and misogynist anti-democratic media personalities who sponsor the party. It leads to attacks on personalities such as Asma Jahangir, not on the mullahs who encourage vigilantism, jihadist organisations who attack the Hazaras or the Taliban who have terrorised the country. Even the Jamaat-e-Islami no longer does that.
This ideological impulse leads the PTI to launch patriarchal jokes attacking the supposed lack of testosterone-inspired politics of opposition leaders but does not censure the machismo demonstrated by its own male leaders – and some women too. The PTI limits its notion of women’s empowerment to that of PTI women who can support its dharnas through public participation but of whose politics we know nothing and who have no feminised voice in decision-making or leadership positions in the party itself.
Revealing too is how one of the PTI’s lawmakers attacks minorities as non-Muslim lesser Pakistanis. The PTI leadership offers vague condemnations of violent acts in the name of religion but does not take any legislative initiative to reform the laws that enable such acts. Recall Imran Khan’s refusal to amend the Zina ordinance, too.
Historical amnesia leads the PTI leaders to contradict themselves as they repeatedly invoke then recant their reliance on the military establishment in order to fulfil their ‘democratic’ ambitions. By pulling the tailcoats of the army they forget the lessons of the 2012 Asghar Khan case and the role of the agencies that is part of public record now. That and the Muneer Report, the Charter of Democracy, the constitution and a plethora of human and women’s rights reports are invaluable sources that the PTI may educate itself on.
Most damaging of all has been the PTI reduction of the notion of revolution itself. Revolutionary ideals have historically risen above parochial interests and for freedoms, equality and liberation or independence towards redistributive wealth and justice. Instead, the PTI commotion has simply been counterrevolutionary in all senses. They struggle neither for the freedoms nor equality nor redistribution of wealth for the people but just ‘liberation’ from an electoral result and the imagined ‘justice’ of gaining power for themselves.
The question is: what’s in it for the majority that is Pakistani women and their emancipatory causes and the minorities that are the most vulnerable in Pakistan – especially, when they are so symbolically and literally loathed and reviled by the PTI?
The writer is a sociologist based in Karachi. Email: [email protected]




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