Friday July 01, 2022

Why vote for Imran Khan?

The PTI has also been savvy enough to use social media effectively, widely and on a minute-to-minute basis

April 28, 2022
Former Pakistans prime minister Imran Khan, who was ousted by opposition parties through a no-confidence motion, gestures as he addresses Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party workers during a party convention in Lahore on April 27, 2022. -AFP
Former Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan, who was ousted by opposition parties through a no-confidence motion, gestures as he addresses Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party workers during a party convention in Lahore on April 27, 2022. -AFP   

A surprising number of people in Pakistan still seem determined to vote for Imran Khan and the PTI, despite the evidence they have left behind of incompetence, vengeance, a series of lies, and acts which at the very least, can be called extremely unethical, if not downright corrupt. In some cases, there is no doubt that they were corrupt – just as corrupt as Imran accuses his opponents to be.

Alongside this comes the virtually fascist outlook put forward by Imran with his talks about punishing people in public, his vehement attacks on anyone who opposes him, his insistence that these people are traitors, because their fault is not to support the PTI. Yet despite the fact that Imran has presented no vision for the future, though some programmes in his government were well run such as the polio programme, and Dr Faisal Sultan's drive to curb Covid, there is nothing that has been left which could bring a permanent change to the lives of people. A permanent change would mean programmes which promote education for all and ensure that this is then delivered effectively, and that the education promotes tolerance and harmony, rather than the opposite.

Despite all this, despite the apparent fiasco over the so-called health card scheme, we are seeing in Punjab a surprising number of people seem determined to continue their support for the PTI. This is discernible not only from the rallies held in Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and elsewhere, it is also visible in the posters being put up in streets and in messages posted over social media as well as anecdotal accounts, which come from talking to people belonging to various sectors of society in groups. Many of them seem to be buying into the narrative of the 'grand conspiracy' to oust the Imran Khan government by the US and the involvement of the political opposition in this. Of course, anyone with any degree of good sense can see that this is at best an exaggeration. Senior analysts have spoken about far harsher diplomatic cables exchanged by other embassies.

Almost everyone who has done so agrees that working with Khan is a difficult and demanding task, given the lack of ideology and the lack of mission that his tenure carries. It is true that he may wish to help people and promote a stronger, better Pakistan, but he appears to have very little idea of how to put in place the economic structures and social structures which would achieve this. In addition, he has failed to select the right team that could advise him accurately and with acumen on these admittedly demanding matters.

Yet we can see that across Pakistan, there is support for the PTI. How much, only the next election will tell. It is possible that the PML-N and PPP may hold on to their heartland areas in Punjab and Sindh, but in places it is also clear that the PTI will be making serious inroads. It is also interesting that people who until a few years ago, would fall into the comparatively progressive or liberal camp in Pakistan have chosen Imran Khan as their mentor and leader and continue to back him despite the frightening events of the last few weeks. It is unclear where their motivation comes from, but it is obvious that the poor politics of the past, the inability of past leaders to manage things effectively despite some degree of effort and the problem every democratic government has faced of interference from outside institutions has influenced their performance. There are also an amazing number of young people who believe Imran Khan is the only choice.

The PTI has also been savvy enough to use social media effectively, widely and on a minute-to-minute basis. All this has an impact in this day and age, when ideology has disappeared from politics around the world, and certainly disappeared altogether in Pakistan, where there is now very little difference in the agenda of various parties. Social media has become a weapon which has to be used effectively and with a sound strategy behind this.

But it is still a question mark why people believe that after three and a half years of terrible misgovernance, the PTI would suddenly change, would end its assault on the media, would stop harassing dissidents and would change its positions on other matters, such as the misogynist stance it has taken so often.

Imran Khan has been able to gather a strong core or support. This comes from both the right and what we can call the left or what remains of it in the country. The reasons appear to lie in the failure of past leaders and in the challenges that still face Pakistan in the future. It is astonishing that people believe ‘Cable Gate’ is a fact and not a piece of exaggerated imagination, painting pictures of conspiracies and global efforts to overthrow a government which does not really matter to the world. European and US leaders are not truly concerned about Pakistan or who runs it. This is fact. Large economies like China and India are far more significant as they take in the global view of the world and consider their strategies. It is difficult to understand why anyone would believe so much effort would be placed behind trying to oust Imran Khan and his men.

Imran Khan, meanwhile, continues on his streak of vengeance, now including the ECP in it, more and more strongly. In insisting that the ECP intends to tamper with the ballot and hold an unfair or biased election, unless EVMs are used, he does not mention that he himself had chosen Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja. This is also true of his attacks on the judiciary, which he has initially and on various stages pointed to as an example for the country. Again, he has changed his stance on this. Why he has decided Faiz Isa was unfairly treated is also easy to understand, if one looks at his relationship with the establishment and the manner in which it has changed over the last few months.

The key issue though is perhaps the lack of choice people have. The PML-N, by putting up Hamza Sharif in Punjab, is promoting the same dynastic politics we have seen for decades. The PPP is doing precisely the same with Bilawal Bhutto as its leader. All this has an impact on people and suggests to them that there can be no change if these parties continue in power. Imran Khan to them can make a difference. But the truth about his campaigns, his alleged misuse of funds collected for charities and, of course, the Toshakhana affair needs to be investigated far more stringently and the truth put forward before people so that they are in a better position to make a choice.

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor. She can be reached at:


    Danish Khamisani commented 2 months ago

    But isn't this what Imran Khan promised, for us to have visibility, for the decisions that are being made.

    1 1

    Waleed commented 2 months ago

    high in hypocrisy

    5 0

    Abdul Sattar commented 2 months ago

    Totally lopsided!

    4 1

    truthisbitter813 commented 2 months ago

    The truth of the matter is this: Most Pakistanis are hypocrites. So in IK, they see an embodiment of their ideals i.e. hypocrisy.

    5 1

    Hassan Iqbal commented 2 months ago

    Hit the nail there when talking about hamza and bilawal, major question if not imran then who? It's a grim choice the electoral has so I mean seems to be the least bad of the lot.

    3 0

    Amanzeb Khan commented 2 months ago

    Strange article. Keeps asking the question why people support Khan and never really offers an answer. Perhaps the authors very one sided views make it difficult for her to understand Khan's appeal.

    4 0

      sn commented 2 months ago

      "The key issue though is perhaps the lack of choice people have." Read the article again before commenting

    Jamil Soomro, New York City commented 2 months ago

    Outstanding article by Ms.Kamila Hyat. Imran Khan lives in 21st. Century but wants to be the man of 15th Century.?

    2 0

    MITHIDADA commented 2 months ago

    Imran is a cult figure who, for his followers can do no wrong. Otherwise the terrible degradation of the constitution carried out in full public view on 3rd April should have convinced any sane person about his future role in politics. But cult worship is a denial of sanity, so we are where we are.

    3 0

    Islam Uddin commented 2 months ago

    Hypocrisy at its peak

    0 0