Tuesday May 21, 2024

Politics of irresponsibility

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf
September 07, 2022

It is widely believed in Pakistan’s political circles that PTI Chairperson Imran Khan’s ascent to power was orchestrated by the country’s powerful quarters. If this assertion is given credence, then Khan’s latest outburst can best be explained by the phrase Frankenstein’s monster, which, in political circles, is used for individuals who often turn against their supporters.

In a Faisalabad rally, Khan took his anger to a new height when he implied that PDM leaders Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif wanted to influence the selection process of the COAS. Imran also suggested that those who facilitated the installation of the PDM government had committed an act of treachery. A day later, the ISPR reacted strongly against the irresponsible statement – and rightly so.

It seems that incensed by the loss of power and the resulting frustration, Khan has lost all sense of proportion and propriety. Whatever he has been saying since his exit from power and the ultimate position taken by him at the Faisalabad jalsa is inexcusable, considering the fact that he is the former prime minister of the country and should be fully aware of the implications of his statements.

Initially, he came up with the narrative that the US was behind the no-confidence motion against him and expected his backers to fully endorse him. In the meetings of the National Security Council, security agencies categorically stated that they found no trace of any conspiracy, so he then built the narrative that the country’s powerful were also standing with the PDM. Expanding his narrative, he also hinted at the possibility of Israel and India supporting the conspiracy.

Imran is a master of building false narratives and repeating them over and over. His entire political career shows how he relies on concocted and false rhetoric. The best example is his theory of ‘35 punctures’ which he propagated to claim that the 2013 elections had been rigged in favour of the PML-N. He created a great fuss, and when the judicial commission formed to probe into rigging allegations quashed that contention, he publicly admitted that his statement was only political rhetoric.

While he was in the prime ministerial chair, he took innumerable U-turns on his position on national issues and boasted it as a sign of a great leader. All of this sounds shocking: a person builds false narratives and when the myth regarding their authenticity explodes, they feel no shame at all. Leaders are supposed to honour their words and act as an example for their followers.

During his three-and-a-half years as PM, he failed to prove his democratic credentials and instead practised politics of vendetta. He refused to build working relationships with the opposition parties and focused more on implicating them in different cases, which were never proven in the courts. He took political rivalry to the point of political enmity as a result of which the country had become ungovernable. He probably had long plans, but he was banking on the ‘neutrals’ but they refused to play favourites, which is when he started taking a swipe at them.

Things took an ugly turn when PTI leader Shahbaz Gill made a hateful statement which was deemed to be incitement to mutiny. Gill is already under arrest, and a case has been registered against him; it is hard to predict what course this case will take.

Imran is surely treading on a wrong and dangerous path. He seems to have put everything on the line to fulfil his political agenda. It would have been better had he remained part of parliament and fought his case in a constitutional manner – during the hearing of Imran Khan’s application against the amendments to the NAB Ordinance, the Supreme Court had expressed that there was no alternative to parliament.

There is a strong possibility that Imran Khan may not be able to take himself out unscathed from his narrative; equally ominous are the foreign funding and Toshakhana cases. The new revelations about the concealment of bank accounts case and a host of other corruption cases that have now come to light and were previously swept under the carpet during Khan’s government are also hanging on his shoulder as a sword of Damocles.

It is an irrefutable fact that Imran Khan’s credentials as an honest leader are not beyond reproach. He claims that he wants to assume power with the sole aim of bringing the corrupt leaders to book and eliminating corruption from the system. This has also proven to be the biggest lie. He used to accuse Pervaiz Elahi of financial wrongdoings. But when he needed support to form his government, he happily let Pervaiz Elahi’s PML-Q become his ally. He also shook hands with the MQM, his strong political opponent. He used to call out Sheikh Rashid for his dubious credentials, and today the two politicians enjoy good working relations. Every electable who was a beneficiary of the previous governments jumped on his bandwagon – no questions asked. The compromises he made to gain and retain power were inexhaustible. It was power politics at its worst.

Imran has surely landed himself in a difficult situation. He will have to change course if he desires to remain relevant in future political arrangements in the country. Rigidity and inflexibility have no place in politics.

The writer is a freelance contributor. He can be reached at: