Imran Khan: problems and solutions

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 21.05.14

Some Pakistanis might have forgotten that Pakistan has passed through a phase when, to
the utter surprise of a military dictator, a chief justice of Pakistan refused to accept dictation
and resign from his post. The institutional shock that refusal must have given to the military
and the institutional strength that refusal must have given to the judiciary can be well
imagined. Subsequent events saw the judiciary getting stronger — back to its constitutional
role — and the military getting weaker — also back to its constitutional role. Ask General
(retired) Pervez Musharraf about his one striking regret and he will not tell you about a
botched commando jump from a multistorey building but will narrate his miscarried attempt
to eject Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry from the judiciary.

Do Imran Khan and the like really believe that the military has recovered from that shock? It
was not just a shock; it was also an institutional insult. Justice Chaudhry was summoned not
to the Holiday Inn to have a cup of coffee with General Musharraf but to the military
headquarters to be served a (contrived) charge sheet against him to prompt his immediate
resignation. General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was also a witness to that incident. How
confident must the military top brass of those days have been of its success and how much
more shocked it must have been at the refusal cannot be fathomed. As Chief of Army Staff
(COAS), General Kayani’s behaviour in respecting the civilian government could be
considered a repercussion of that institutional jolt. That setback to the morale of the military
top brass did not occur elsewhere but in its own cosy office in Rawalpindi. Can opportunist
politicians such as Sheikh Rasheed and electorally rejected political leaders such as the
Chaudhrys of Gujarat make the military forget the past and feel emboldened vis-à-vis the
civilian set-up? By taking out rallies and staging sit-ins at D-Chowk in Islamabad or even at
an E-Chowk of any other city, to invite the military to dislodge a sitting civilian government is
a useless effort. Ask the military if it is ready to bear another institutional shock.

Khan seems bent on trying his best to prove that he is not worth the respect he earned
from both the public and fellow politicians. He has so far not provided any proof of electoral
rigging triggered by or at the behest of Justice Chaudhry. By accusing the judge for his
party’s dismal electoral performance at the national level, Khan has hit below the belt.
Nevertheless, this point reveals that Khan was really expecting a tsunami sweep across the
national electoral chess board in 2013. He has not yet recovered from the reality of
electoral rejection. During the election campaign, Khan remained focused on winning his
seat in Rawalpindi (NA-56) — which he won — and overlooked the importance of his seat
back in Lahore (NA-122), which he lost. It was Khan’s electoral strategy that gave him a win
in one city and a loss in another. What is the problem here? Secondly, how come the
elections were fair in Rawalpindi but unfair in Lahore? In Lahore, any private (surveying)
company of repute could be asked to conduct a survey to discover what the trend of voters
was for or against Khan in NA-122 in 2013.

One of the problems with Khan’s party is that it is stacked with marketing experts and non-
politicians. Both types are devoid of political background and experience. Though they
brought along their professional experience and financial worth to woo the party workers
and Khan, genuine party workers have also surfaced at the provincial and national levels.
Nevertheless, Asad Umar and Jehangir Tareen have yet to learn politics. Where is Fauzia
Kasuri these days? The problem with people like Kasuri is that they are mesmerised by
Khan’s cricketing personality and believe that Khan can also do political wonders. They
stop using their own minds and dare not disagree with Khan. That is why it seems that Khan’
s decisions to go public and smear anyone and everyone’s name are not a product of an in-
party prior consultation. The same attitude also shows that Khan’s party is devoid of a
second tier of leadership, which volunteers to serve as a whipping boy. The party is still
Khan’s show. Shah Mehmood Qureshi is still fighting for his political survival even within the
platform of Khan’s party. He has no political make-and-break expertise, though he is trying
to prove his mastery at it. The case of Makhdoom Javed Hashmi is different. No one seeks
his advice and, perhaps, no one needs his advice. It seems that Hashmi is in the party not
because of his electoral worth but because of his political worth, which he earned by
becoming a breakaway politician from Nawaz Sharif’s party. Hashmi reacted to his
uselessness in Sharif’s party and switched his allegiance to Khan’s party. Perhaps he is
now thinking of reacting to his current state of futility in Khan’s party. Hashmi is left with little
choice in this regard. He must think of resigning from politics and writing another
autobiography, this time on the reasons for his leaving Khan’s party.

There are three traits apparent in Khan’s political behaviour so far: first, he is a reactionary,
secondly, he does not accept reality if it is below his expectations and, thirdly, he can stoop
very low. These are not unusual traits. In fact, Khan has not yet manifested the all important
fourth trait, which he should develop soon: how to hide the three previous traits. To gain
electoral popularity matching the popularity of Sharif’s party needs time and performance.
Instead of yearning for mid-term elections by relying on the military to do his bidding, Khan
must consider that his party’s government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a great opportunity to
yield performance capital, which can sway voters nationally to give Khan’s party a chance
next time. Khan’s dream of becoming the prime minister should not pass through military
headquarters but through performance in government.

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