Kausar Fatima looks at a
What is witnessed currently is the phenomenon repeated quite often in the annals of Perils of overwhelming public popularity affairs whereby a public figure is ensnared by his popularity and starts to act irrationally to the chagrin of his well-wishers and providing chance to his detractors to tire him down till he throws down the towel. Imran Khan has apparently reached this point though his media team is trying hard to give the impression that he has come out winner out of the so-called assassination attempt made at him during his long march near Wazirabad whereas the actual situation is the exact reverse of what they are claiming. The current position he now stands in has finally vindicated the assertion of the observers who always held that Imran Khan was never a politician but a social climber who was enticed into the thorny field of politics where he was completely out of depth and is now treated as an existential threat to many institutional entitities.
The opportunist power players exploited his charismatic star power and portrayed him as an incorruptible visionary out to cleanse the country of the corrupt dynastic politicians holding the country in their vicious grip. In actual fact such politicians were gradually challenging hold of the establishment and Imran Khan was brought to stop them and temporarily succeeded in their purpose but he failed them ultimately. These adventurists are known for putting the country into turmoil just to sustain their hold on the levers of state and have managed to do so since the last half a century and in the process have impeded its development.
While there is hardly any doubt that Imran Khan failed his benefactors but in the process he also adopted the course the dynastic politicians had adopted and rose to the unprecedented heights of popularity. The difference however was that he somehow got that elusive Teflon chip attached to his person that immuned him to any criticism. It was quite obvious that such huge advantage came laden with both positive and negative aftereffects in equal measure and it was up to the recipient how he could use such colossal popularity that came his way. This is where Imran Khan’s inadequacies as an individual came into play as he proved to be a mixture of complacency, ego and outlandish outbursts that often left his mentors embarrassed. He displayed a striking impatience with everything happening around him and revealed a ruthlessness that was exceptional and created an atmosphere of fear around him.
It was not long before he started burning his boats and initiated a vicious campaign against his erstwhile benefactors. He slowly became venomous in his public pronouncements and there came a point where no one was safe from his tongue-lashing. He actually assumed the role of an anti-leader, out to destroy anything that came in his way. Intriguingly he gave no hint of what he would do after he cleared the country of the so-called rubbish he wanted to remove. What is clear now is that what he ultimately wants is to subvert the society for the sake of subverting it and he has no plan of doing anything after that. This is quite a revolting prospect and requires to be resisted as it carries in itself seeds of instability that the country cannot afford to bear.
At the moment Imran Khan is clearly a populist leader who has led and lost though he has not lost his mass appeal. He actually considers his popularity as an end in itself and conveniently ignores that political performances is equally important ingredient for political success. Imran Khan shifts the burden of his failure to extraneous factors and absolves himself of all responsibility. He clearly avoids justifying that how he would exercise authority if given to him again as he could not do so in the first place despite having unbridled support of all state institutions. This leads many observers to conclude that the overwhelming popularity syndrome has inculcated in him a powerful sense of self-righteousness that he associates with the advantage of the country and thinks that he is the only man who can salvage the nation.
The notion of being the ultimate saviour is the beginning of self-destruction and its manifest signs are self glory. In this case self-interest is laden with national interest and Imran Khan perceives that his unconventional approach is what is best for the country without realising that his flawed and conflicted dispositions have caused serious frictions in the body politic of the country. Imran Khan has advanced too far into self-denial and it may be difficult for him to come back into political mainstream and, even if he tries to, his opponents will not let him do so. The kind of self-interested individuality he tried to practice had its limitations particularly when it was based upon state coercion that he carried out during his brief stint in governance and now the time has come for it to be finally checked. TW