Khan’s recent statement may be motivated by how his circumstances have taken a rather serious turn
n November 13, former prime minister Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i Insaaf (PTI) turned his cable-gate bandwagon around and told foreign media, “As far as I am concerned, it’s over, it’s behind me. The Pakistan I want to lead must have good relationships with everyone, especially the United States.”
In what followed, he seemed to be blaming Pakistan for the strained relationship between the two countries. “Our relationship with the US has been as of a master-servant relationship, or a master-slave relationship. We’ve been used like a hired gun. But for that I blame my own governments more than the US,” Khan said. The U-turn confused many as it seemed to vindicate his opponents.
Khan prides himself in playing his political cards right. One may wonder what his latest manoeuvre is meant for. The answer is simple: it is to lay down the foundations for his return to the corridors of power.
He is currently the most popular politician in the country and has built a great momentum with the foreign interference/ conspiracy and an attempt on his life. He looks likely to win the upcoming general election. While America prepares for the potential return of Donald Trump, Khan prepares for another meeting with him at the White House.
Khan’s statement may have been motivated by how his circumstances have taken a serious turn. For more than six months now, Khan and his supporters have been protesting in the streets in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for the removal of an ‘imported’ government. Perhaps, much of the chaos could have been avoided.
Some in rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are demanding that Khan apologise for the regime change allegations. Defence Minister Khwaja Asif said in the National Assembly, “No, it’s not all over… you will have to pay the political price for playing with the honour and prestige of the nation.” He will be hoping that this be an eye-opener for the public, particularly those taking to the streets and social media in support of Khan’s narrative.
US-backed regime change in a Third World country seems so believable that for a while the leader fooled many.
Let us go over the facts. When Khan was removed through a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, he claimed that a US conspiracy had caused his defeat in the parliament. A US-backed regime change in a Third World country is so plausible that for a while the popular leader fooled many, including some who had not previously supported him.
From then on the successor government was an ‘imported government’ and the establishment guilty in not supporting him against it and the plot. Khan insisted that such a government and such an establishment could not be trusted with decisions like the appointment of an army chief. Instead, he proposed that the army chief be given another extension in his service until after general elections, his ‘neutrality’ notwithstanding.
So, where do we go from here? A common sense answer would be: not where such politicians want to take us. Khan has shown great resilience in the face of adversity but it now seems that this has not been on account of a cause other than getting back into power. All politicians are known to be capable of that.
Politics in the end is a game of popular perceptions. However, our leaders should not forget that the citizens of Pakistan are not mere pawns for them to sacrifice on a chessboard. They are flesh and blood human beings who get confused when positions taken by their leaders change so quickly and so radically. They are affected by and suffer the consequences of the leader’s actions.
Our politicians must behave as if the people of Pakistan and their problems mattered to them. As a very popular politician and potential wielder of power Khan needs to avoid taking positions he is going to have to abandon later.
As for the people of Pakistan, they need to realise that they can’t believe everything they are told.
The writer is a freelance journalist