Monday July 22, 2024

Betraying political creators

By Saleem Safi
October 08, 2022

Imran Khan was pampered, supported, sponsored, idealized, and brought into the shining political limelight from deep political obscurity. However, once in power, he played havoc with the country’s economy, politics, foreign policy, social fabric, and moral values. Now when he is out of power, Imran Khan is targeting his very own benefactors, sponsors, and mentors. What a betrayal.

In the eyes of most Pakistanis, Imran was a cricket world cup hero, social worker, builder of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, and a simple, honest and straightforward human being. When he started politics in 1997, he was at the peak of his personal popularity – as compared to his current standing. At that time, he had no wealthy tycoons on his side and no baggage of bad governance, incompetence and corruption. People did not know that, once in power, he would bring the likes of Farah Gogi, Khawar Maneka, Usman Buzdar, Mehmood Khan, Pervaiz Elahi, Khusro Bakhtiar, Shehzad Mirza, Zulfi Bukhari, and Shahbaz Gill to run the government. In addition, he had no personal, political, or financial controversies.

But now, apart from being popular, he is trapped in serious controversies and is seen as a proven violator of the constitution (in light of the Supreme Court judgment on the dismissal of the resolution of the no-confidence motion) and embezzler (the ECP decision about the PTI foreign funding case). Stories of mega corruption scandals – both financial and moral – favouritism, embezzlement of state gifts, and compromising state secrets are now the talk of the town.

Despite his clean reputation, Imran could not win a single seat in 1997 and won only one seat in the 2002 election. Prior to the 2022 election, he tried his best to ingratiate himself with former president Musharraf by supporting his foreign policy on the 'war on terror'. Imran did not only welcome Gen Musharraf’s martial law but also campaigned for him in the 2002 presidential referendum. He would even meet Gen Musharraf and ask him and the then DG ISI to give him a few dozen electables so he could win the election and become prime minister.

But Musharraf turned down his requests and handed over the government to the PML-Q of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. This is why Imran Khan turned against the Chaudhrys, even calling Pervaiz Elahi Daaku No 1 of Punjab. Surprisingly, that very Pervaiz Elahi is now running his government in Punjab. Interestingly, it was this hatred against the Chaudhrys that had led Imran to vote for Maulana Fazlur Rehman against Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali of the PML-Q in 2002 for the election of prime minister.

Though Imran kept criticizing Gen Musharraf after the 2002 presidential referendum, soon he changed course and started to compromise and keep things in order with the international establishment led by the American neocons, and the Pakistani establishment. Imran continued to back Musharraf's foreign policy on Afghanistan and drones etc. Knowing his political worth and ultimate fate, he boycotted the 2008 general election. But soon, things turned in his favour when a rift occurred between the establishment and the two mainstream political parties.

In 2010, a decision was taken to adopt this political nobody and raise him as a third force and a new political figure. Thus Project Imran Khan was inaugurated on October 30, 2011 under glittering lights on the vast lawn of Minar-e-Pakistan – and soon miracles started to happen. His political creators, Mr X and Mr Y, started to brand him as the only option: as a messiah, and as a panacea of all ills. Media channels were pursued and anchors were launched to build his political image accordingly. These anchors aired planted and friendly interviews with Imran Khan. Besides his political image, he also needed electables for increasing his vote bank and wealthy people for his financial expenses – both political and personal. Mr X and Mr Y pulled in Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Asad Umar, Shafqat Mehmood, Azam Swati, etc and inducted them into the PTI. Big tycoons were also brought closer to Imran Khan to serve as his money machines.

Originally, Mr X and Mr Y had planned to make Imran Khan prime minister in the 2013 elections. However, prior to the election, the PML-N patched up with the establishment and the then army chief distanced both the army and the agencies from the political process. Though Mian Nawaz Sharif became prime minister in 2013, Imran was handed the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As per the London Plan, Mr X and Mr Y brought the Chaudhrys of Gujrat closer to Imran Khan and imported Tahirul Qadri from Canada to launch sit-ins against the Nawaz Sharif government. Supporters of Imran Khan and his so-called Canadian cousin stormed Constitution Avenue, violated the sanctity of parliament, attacked PTV, and started a civil disobedience movement. But no one could dare to punish them.

Mega corruption scandals regarding the Peshawar BRT, the Billion Tree Tsunami, Malam Jabba case, etc surfaced in the PTI-led KP government, but the PTI government was protected by its creators. On the contrary, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was used to harass, threaten and silence Imran Khan's opponents. To clear his path for the 2018 election, Mr X and Mr Y created baseless scandals like Dawn Leaks, disqualified PM Nawaz Sharif, and imprisoned him along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif. They also kept threatening – via the usual 'unknown' phone calls – Imran's political opponents as well as independent-minded journalists.

Mr X and Mr Y did not stop there; before the 2018 elections, they made a plan to have the Result Transmission System (RTS) fail. When briefed about this plot, Imran jumped with joy – even memorizing the codes used for the RTS.

Not only that, Mr X and Mr Y even encouraged and trained PTI social media trolls – to the extent of gifting the PTI its very own YouTubers. However, when they realized – based on pre-poll surveys – that Imran Khan could not become prime minister, a plan was made to expel polling agents from the polling stations. As a consequence, people like Ali Zaidi and Qasim Suri also won the election.

In Karachi, Mr X and Mr Y gave the MQM-P and PSP seats to the PTI. Helpless, both the MQM-P and PSP complained about this glaring electoral rigging but in vain. Later, the MQM was forced to support Imran Khan in the National Assembly.

Not only was Imran handed over the government by rigging, bullying, and twisting the arms of his opponents but he was continued to be facilitated in running the government too – forcing the media to dump the claims of electoral rigging and pushing Asif Ali Zardari to sit in parliament and let Imran Khan’s government function. Imran Khan has also admitted, on record, that he was facilitated through phone calls to the legislatures to support the legislative process. When Yusuf Raza Gilani became a senator and dozens of members of the PTI rebelled practically, some of them were locked in rooms, some in containers and others in washrooms and forced to vote for the PTI’s candidate for Senate chairmanship.

In a nutshell, Mr X and Mr Y brought Imran Khan from the political obscurity of zero seats in the 1997 election, one seat in 2002, and no seat in 2008 and gave him the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government in 2013, the federal government in 2018, the Gilgit-Baltistan government in 2020 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir government in 2021 by using every means at their disposal. But today an ungrateful Imran Khan is targeting and threatening his political creators. Let’s see what the political creators do now and what destiny awaits this political creature.

The writer works for Geo TV.