Newspaper Article 08/11/2022
Imran Khan is neither infallible, nor is he an angel. He is another human being. He has erred in many decisions and his stint in power was not perfect by any means. But he is a brave man, a sportsman par excellence, and a celebrity of grandeur order. His biggest quality is that he is not corrupt. At the same time, he has a vision and the commitment to lead from the front, and that is what exhibits his leadership — and makes him unparalleled in Pakistan’s political mosaic. One can always disagree with his approach in the current milieu, but it goes without saying that his articulation to reform the system and make it accountable to the rule of law has won millions of hearts, and that transcends his party spectrum. He sounds anti-status quo, per se, and that distinguishes him from his contemporaries.
The former prime minister, nonetheless, is at the crossroads of history. He has stirred hope for change, but the same is yet to be transformed into a blueprint of practicability. In his three and half years in power, he has bowled short of length. He seemed compromised for reasons of exigency. He could not introduce reforms and was a non-starter in conducting accountability. Perhaps, he got obsessed with rubbing shoulders with the powers-that-be and that is where he blinked. And that is the cost he is paying today, as the same system is bent upon dumping him to the extent of his extermination.
As the Captain recuperates after luckily escaping an assassination attempt, it is right time for him to indulge in some deep introspection. He must rewrite the fine points of his re-engagement with state-centrism. His courage and conviction, as he smiled and waved to his supporters after being shot in the legs, has made him a symbol of resilience. The nation awes him. No doubt, he is set to sweep the polls as and when they are held.
His narrative in the last six months, since he was shown the door through a covertly orchestrated regime change operation, is making vibes. A 13-party Coalition of Unwilling, united merely to keep him away from the corridors of power, stands disgruntled. Media TRPs are at his disposal, and his manifesto to overhaul the pattern of governance is receiving laurels. All kinds of arm-twisting tactics, character assassination PTCs, and lacunas laid on his way to obstruct his soaring popularity have simply backfired.
This is where he must decide once and for all on a few salient features of his future political agenda. The change he campaigns cannot come from within the system. It is a mixed complex of an evolution that must lead to a revolution of sorts. Even if he returns to power with a two-thirds majority, he will be astutely facing obstacles as the system is rotten and corrupt to the core. His sermons on ethics and religious citations will hardly work. The system in vogue is accustomed to nepotism, and despotic in essence. It is merrily happy with kickbacks and shortcuts, and is completely elite-captured.
Mr Khan, of course, cannot adore the role of Che Guevara, or resort to guerilla warfare. He has to simply sell a political package that intuitively choreographs a constituent mandate from the people. It must promise overhauling the system by rewriting a new social contract. The judiciary, bureaucracy and the executive cadres have failed the nation. They must face the axe as reforms are introduced. Cosmetic surgery is no solution. Law must take precedence over compulsions.
It is a foregone conclusion that the poles of power are corrupt, and should be revamped. The nation is proud of its armed forces, but it is a bitter reality that for decades they have had a political role at the cost of their credibility. Time to undo that stigma, too.
Mr Khan, there is no room for jingoism. Even if you have to wait for many more years, stick to your passion and never give up. This is how you can empower the people. Time and history will sooner than later be on your side.
Note: This article appeared in Tribune, dated 08 November 2022.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.