Imran Khan, Dr Qadri and Mubashir Luqman

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 27.08.14

So far, Imran Khan’s success lies in detaching his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf
(PTI), from the rest of the political parties and bracketing it with the Pakistan Awami
Tehreek (PAT) of Dr Tahirul Qadri. Many political observers in Pakistan still view the PTI
and PAT as two different parties with two different agendas while launching long marches
and staging sits-in together. This view needs rethinking because this is no coincidence but
a plan.

Khan invited Dr Qadri directly and through intermediaries to visit Pakistan. Meetings
between the main leaders of the PTI and the PAT took place in Toronto, Canada and
London, England. There was also third party involvement in bringing both the PTI and the
PAT closer in their agendas to plan a simultaneous movement against the sitting
government. In July in Lahore, both Khan and Dr Qadri reiterated their resolve to launch a
synchronised march towards Islamabad. Even during the apparently separate sits-in in
Islamabad, both the parties established background contacts.

Khan is a parliamentarian whereas Dr Qadri is not. Khan’s final demand is the resignation
of Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif. Dr Qadri’s final demand is the ‘toppling’ of the sitting
government. At least one demand shared between Khan and Dr Qadri is the constitution of
a non-political or technocratic set-up to conduct fresh general elections. The reliance of
Khan on Dr Qadri manifests in the fact that Khan was unsure of the success of his
demands. Khan needed a helping hand in the form of Dr Qadri to buttress the cause of the
PTI. Does the law permit a parliamentarian to cooperate with a person who is not part of the
democratic (or the electoral) process and who is bent on (as Dr Qadri has announced
repeatedly in public) toppling the sitting government? Moreover, by grouping with Dr Qadri,
Khan has developed a pressure group meant primarily to dislodge the sitting government
outside of parliament.

Though Khan has stirred the impressionable minds of the youth to attend the sit-in every
evening since August 16, he has also exposed his political immaturity in the way he frames
his demands. Khan failed to appreciate that between his ambitions and his goals stood the
constitution. He naively thought that if he was convinced of a point, the rest of the world
would also be convinced. Khan thought that allegations were enough to launch an
agitation. He thought that he had taken a principled stance (to demand the resignation of
the PM) and that this act alone would prove that he was the only principled politician
around. One wonders what he studied in political science while he was in the UK. Perhaps
he spent more time playing cricket than studying political science, a subject that teaches
not taking an untenable position and not levelling allegations without solid proof.

Currently, the efforts of political moderators of all hues are turned towards figuring out how
to provide a face saving exit for Khan. This is important because, like Dr Qadri, Khan kept
on waiting for the third force or the umpire (meaning the army) to intervene. These hopes
of both Khan and Dr Qadri were dashed when the other day the Director General Inter
Services Public Relations issued a statement that listed two main points: first, both Khan
and Qadri should stop waiting for the army to intervene and instead enter into a dialogue
with the government to settle the issue through “meaningful negotiations” and, second,
both (along with their followers) were warned against crossing the boundaries of the
buildings along the Red Zone, protected by the army. That statement compelled both of
them to open the doors of negotiations with the government. In the meantime, both
submitted their pro-constitutional declarations in writing to the Supreme Court.

Mubashir Luqman, an anchorperson on a private television channel, is very fond of asking
people to invoke Article six against one person or another, including the former Chief
Justice (CJ) of Pakistan. His efforts to ridicule Article six to save the neck of former military
dictator General Pervez Musharraf are known. During the ongoing crisis, Luqman has
emerged as the one anchorperson who is in touch with and openly siding with both Khan
and Qadri to help them meet their objectives: sabotaging the democratic process, violating
the constitution and bringing parliament down. Late on the night of August 24, Luqman
invited Mohammad Afzal, former additional secretary of the Election Commission, to his talk
show to speak on the authenticity of the 2013 elections. During the conversation, Luqman
kept on extracting statements to be used as allegations to feed the sits-in staged by the PTI
and the PAT.

Undoubtedly, both parties must appreciate Luqman’s efforts in fighting for their joint cause
but it is difficult for a viewer to believe in his words, considering that Wikipedia has
dedicated a full page to him under the heading of ‘Mediagate’, the scandal that tarnished
the image of talk shows telecast by the electronic media in Pakistan. The point is simple: if
Luqman was ‘induced’ to co-host a talk show to malign the reputation of the former CJ,
causing the ‘Mediagate’ scandal, should one believe that this time he has not been induced
and that no new similar scandal will surface in the future? It is understandable that this
credibility deficit has brought Luqman to such a pass that he is ever ready to become part
of any propaganda that could endear him to the public. Hence, while Khan and Dr Qadri
are struggling to save face, Luqman is struggling for his professional survival.

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