- Apr 22, 2010
- Reaction score
The establishment has never found it all that difficult to manage the country's political landscape to suit their preferences. Their latest creation however, is proving to be a tougher challenger. An energized base of loyal supporters views Imran Khan as the messiah that will rescue the nation.View attachment 943240
Imran Khan has come to be seen as the messiah who was promised in the conscious minds of the people of Pakistan. The term ‘people of Pakistan’ might seem overrated as opposed to mere PTI supporters, but the heedless manner in which the PDM has conducted itself in government has enhanced Imran Khan’s popularity profoundly. Such support may not be obvious or as evident as it ought to have been due to an unspoken threat to the people who support Imran Khan, of being dealt with in ways they cannot even imagine; nonetheless, Khan’s popularity has shown little signs of waning.
In order to fix Khan, the system is making constant progress in many ways and on as many fronts as possible. Imran Khan was already steering his ship towards a battle with his makers, but the May 9 incident proved to be the iceberg for Imran which sunk the Titanic after a fateful collision. The state, however, is finding it extremely hard to sink Imran’s ship decisively.
It was predestined that Zia was to win over Bhutto, Musharraf over Nawaz, Bajwa over Nawaz, and Bajwa over Imran. But the game has suddenly become interesting and is taking much longer than usual to end. In 1999, it took merely a few hours for General Musharraf to neutralize Nawaz Sharif. Benazir Bhutto suffered her unfortunate fate in 2007 with just a bullet and a bomb, and then Nawaz Sharif was neutralized again with just one case. Then why is it that even a hundred cases are proving insufficient at neutralizing Khan?
Pakistan is caught in a vicious cycle of power politics between the usual suspects. This cycle has never seemed to settle down, but is taking on a new shape in modern times. In this cycle or game, call it what you will, some have always been definite-winners and the losers are predestined. The winners make an agreement with the losers on their own terms, and as per this agreement, the latter is supposed to play the game – only to make it interesting for the winner and audience.
Disqualifying Imran Khan is much easier compared to other politicians, as owing to his inexperience, Khan did not cover his tracks in a litany of illegal decisions he took in his time as Prime Minister. The real task is to disqualify him from his supporters’ hearts and the PDM is losing sleep over what would it take to do that. As a matter of fact, it is taking ages for the system to undo its own error. It is not that Imran Khan has the capacity to revolutionize the system by imitating Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the events of May 9 demonstrated, but that Khan is proving to be an exasperating glitch in the system. This is not to say that the failed PTI project has weakened the establishment or other political parties, but it is undeniable that Khan has indeed succeeded in making the PDM and the establishment look bad in the eyes of the public.
Before the mini faux-revolution led by Imran Khan, the system was acceptable to the common man. Millions did not even care as to who was in government, or whether the country was being ruled by a dictator or a dummy Prime Minister. The only concern people had was their bread and butter. The ones who did not get it would simply leave for Dubai or Europe – as simple as that. Then the establishment in the late 2000s came up with a plan to permanently get rid of all political parties in the country by experimenting with a Prime Minister and a political team of their own choosing, rather than having to choose between the PML-N or PPP, and adjusting the MQM and JUI in the arrangement. But every experiment can yield millions of possibilities, and in one such tiny possibility, inadvertently, the establishment woke up the men and women who had never stepped out to vote on election day. Millions woke up and voted for Imran Khan in 2013, and demonstrated an entirely new brand of consciousness in the nation’s politics.
Other parties have always depended on their disciples to affirm their presence in the political arena. Parties train them, feed them, give them jobs and oblige them, in return for their support in the form of votes. People Party’s jiyalay, PML-N’s faithful Butts, Jamiat’s Ansars, Jamiat-e-Islami’s aggressive university students – all found themselves suddenly overshadowed by this massive and diverse set of groups and individuals from all professions and walks of life, employed and unemployed, rich and poor – the PTI tsunami of supporters.
In the aftermath of the May 9 incident, while many have surrendered and vowed not to support Imran Khan, on the other hand, a handful of people have gone so far as to have sacrificed their careers, their homes, and some have even sacrificed their legacies and are continuing to do so. This is what makes Khan unique – no matter how poor his party’s governance was or how intensely he has singlehandedly made political polarization exponentially worse – Khan is unique among Pakistan’s political landscape for the loyalty he inspires among his base.
These supporters have been won over in a very cost-effective manner, thanks to the information technology gadgetry of the 21st century that permits near instant sharing of information. There was no need to train them, nor were any furious speeches essential to invoke their sentiments. These people were simply fed with the idea that every politician, judge, bureaucrat is corrupt in this country, and one man and one man alone will fix them all. The establishment even forgot to calculate the ramifications of this propaganda, and ignored the fact that a significant proportion of people also consider the establishment a part of the problem, instead of perceiving it as a part of the solution. And it is those people who were ready to choose Imran Khan over the establishment, due to Pakistani people’s historical longing to have a civilian leader deliver them to prosperity instead of a uniformed dictator. The irony is that the establishment itself was engaged in the process of providing this bunch of people with the leader they longed for, and was unwittingly creating a virus that would infect them.
The PDM, even though it is winning the match and has establishment on its side, has this intense fear that Imran Khan might be able to turn the tables. The flipside of this fear is the fear that the establishment may mend its ways with Imran Khan if they fail to appease the King. PDM’s situation is further exacerbated by their inefficiency in carpeting the economy of a country with 230 million people. Furthermore, constantly looking at Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman enjoying their feasts on the same table is fomenting abhorrence in the psyche of the public.
The PDM is even making attempts to bribe the machinery needed to run the state, and in the process, is completely ignoring the sentiments of the people of Pakistan, irrespective of the Khan factor. Be it the purchase of cars worth millions for government officers in Punjab, or an increase of up to 30% in the salaries of government employees, the approval of a Bill seeking enhanced punishments per the Army Act, or measures to bolster the authority of the caretaker Prime Minister to come. Nobody in the government cares any longer about bribing the people of Pakistan by giving them an abundance of resources in return for their votes; instead, to say that a match is being fixed in Dubai in secret meetings would not be wrong.
It will therefore take much more than cases to fix Imran Khan in a country where life has no value and livelihood is not guaranteed. The question is not if Imran Khan can be fixed or not. The real question is even if Imran is fixed, what then? Imran Khan is not the name of one man any longer, Imran Khan has become a symbol of dissatisfaction with the system, despite being a product of the system’s architects. With the state’s insistence to keep the system running by begging the IMF and neighboring countries, while paying no heed to bolstering prospects for economic growth in a country of nearly 230 million, the idea that ‘Khan is better’ grows in appeal with every passing day.
The irony in this situation is that the state itself has made Imran Khan a symbol of hope against its own tyranny, and has in the process transformed a confused, materialistic, indecisive, incompetent and inarticulate man into the people’s messiah. The voters of other parties have almost always been from a certain place, a certain family or a certain tribe – who would only come into action when directed or attacked.
Imran Khan’s supporters have unconditional love for their Captain. It is anyone’s guess how that support can be suppressed.
I am with army chief and ishaq dar
Pakistan will have great next 6 years under Asim munir shahab