Dr. Tahseen Mahmood describes a repeat scenario
Imran back in container mode protestation and agitation apparently have emerged as the second nature of Imran Khan and he has proved his mettle in these fields. To many observers Imran Khan gives the impression of being born with this typical trait and possesses a temperament that is highly rude and brusque. In the last few years he has proved to be quite a hell-raiser and has galvanised his support from amongst a committed segment of his supporters. He has shown that he has the longer stamina for being part of suffocating public rallies, marches and meetings and has never once shown any weakness in this respect. He is remarkably well-kept for his age and has shown enough aggression without taking any adverse affects on his health. He appears to adore public speaking and keeps no holds barred while addressing a public rally and probably enjoys creating a controversial situation. He clearly is in love with himself and thrives on friction as a means of conveying a sense of invincibility and public approval.
It is therefore not surprising that the diehard core of Imran Khan’s support refuses to listen to anything against him and see no wrong in what he says or does. He commands blind devotion of his followers who willingly or unwillingly did not take matters rationally pointing out to a mass hysteria that beggars belief. This point is duly used by Imran Khan as a potent weapon to browbeat anyone who tries to negate him including the powerful segments of the state that are the primary target of his agitation. Unfortunately, seemingly rational people have fallen for Imran’s campaign of public agitation and fully endorse all actions taken by their leader despite clear violation of constitution and regulations. His supporters believe in earnest that Imran’s government has been illegally removed and the PDM government came to power on behest of American intrigue.
Imran Khan has succeeded in polarising the social mainstream of Pakistani fabric to a dangerous degree. Pakistan is witnessing quite a unique phenomenon in its political history in which all irrationality has been converted to highly rational arguments propagated by Imran Khan’s Camp. Imran Khan has modeled himself well as the anti-system crusader insisting persuasively that he has neither been co-opted nor corrupted by the system. He also emphasises that he wants to change this system and that there is nothing sacrosanct about the system. He cares nothing about damaging the state institutions and has been highly successful in selling his narrative. He appears completely unmindful of his dismal performance while in power and flagrantly disregards all shortcoming of his government. He flatly denies that he was given power practically on a plate and that he failed to successfully exercise.
Imran Khan now is back in container mode armed with half-truths, partial facts and outright lies and he insists that he will ravage the entire country if his detractors were not brought to book. He is couching his message in the lofty ideal of going for election to sort out matters although he had ample time to do so before he was voted out of office. What is all the more painful to observe is that the new generation has given the impression of being extremely naïve and willing to be carried away by hollow rhetoric. The large rallies Imran Khan addressed in Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore has proved that he still commands significant public following. Imran Khan is deftly using his popularity and is encouraging him to swim against the tide indefinitely. However, instead of learning from his mistakes, he continues to amplify a toxic narrative that risks turning the people of Pakistan against the state, its institutions and even themselves.
True to his being in container mode Imran Khan has now announced a march on Islamabad and has proclaimed that he needs 2 million people to be with him in his said march. Though it is early to predict the outcome of his march on Islamabad but what it actually implies at this stage the potential to throw another spanner in the works for the new coalition government, which suddenly finds itself with everything to lose after walking itself into a political quagmire littered with economic landmines. No one could be more aware than Imran Khan that protests rallies and sit-ins do not yield desired results but he still is sure that it will do the wonder for him. Imran Khan is employing the heady mix of religion and hyper-nationalism and this is quite a dangerous mix and has apparently been accepted by his supporters.
It has also become very clear that Imran Khan has successfully disputed all the prevailing concepts of governance in the country. Recently, he warned that any army chief appointed by the current government will not be acceptable to him and his party. This is quite a sensitive issue as he has attacked the basic tenet of state functions that has the potential of impugning each and every action undertaken by the state. His U-turn about the Chief Election Commissioner (ECP) is a case in point in which he now declares him to be PMLN sympathiser despite the fact that many TV clips have shown him to be declaring that the CEC was a joint choice also endorsed by his party.
Just to intensify his agitation Imran Khan instructed his supporters to demand resignation of the chief election commissioner (CEC). Accordingly, a small but spirited crowd gathered that threatened that unless the election commissioner mends its way, becomes completely neutral or tenders resignation and quickly decides the case of disqualification, all his offices throughout Pakistan would face daily protests. The protestors pointed out that the election commission was targeting the PTI in the so-called foreign funding case. The PTI wants transparent elections but is also sure that with the incumbent election commissioner in charge, fair elections were not possible. They alleged that Election Commission robbed the PTI of the Daska seat and could do the same on a bigger scale in the next elections adding that during the senate elections, votes were up for sale and purchase and the CEC did nothing.
It is observed that Imran Khan would not listen to anyone in his container mode and he will keep on ignoring that he failed spectacularly in his governance. Whatever he says or does it is quite clear that there is no other logical explanation for the establishment’s change of heart and sudden desire to go neutral. The establishment could not bear the escalating burden of the hybrid experiment they had so painstakingly weaved. Instead of objectively reviewing his performance after being ousted from power Imran Khan has lumped in judges and soldiers in his negative narrative after ranting against his political opponents. Imran Khan has taken his sense of entitlement to a highly disastrous level and he appears bereft of giving up his stance easily. He and his followers have already been allowed tremendous leeway as they are burning Pakistani flags and passports with impunity and no action is taken against them.
The present situation that Imran Khan has created could not possibly be confronted by his older political opponents and it looks that this task has been given to the new generation of political leaders to tackle him upfront. It is a correct decision as looking towards the establishment to sort out the matter may provide them with a leverage to exploit later and it should be avoided as much as possible. TW