imran khan status quo

Written by Mir Adnan Aziz 7:12 pm Opinion, Published Content

Imran Khan—Challenger of the Status Quo

Former leaders took advantage of the inchoate state, and marred Pakistan by insulating themselves. Mir Adnan Aziz considers Imran Khan’s political existence, and PTI’s unswerving influence the perfect opportunity for the citizens to resolve the pitiful state of the country themselves.
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Mir Adnan Aziz is a freelance contributor.


No political scientist, let alone a physicist, could have described our governance cycles better than Einstein’s line: “Our politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fuelled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions”. Post independence, Pakistan has remained a cauldron of machinations. The Parliament should have been the Constitution’s bastion; it remained mired in conduct detrimental to the same.

The unfortunate vacuum invited dictators; an alienated population welcomed them for lack of alternatives. Ironically, the Supreme Court legalized these dictators, even allowing them the luxury to amend the Constitution. Many would be democrats profited by being willing partners in this travesty. Collectively, these enablers created a single power center which was the military. In doing so, they bestowed upon it the status of what the Romans called Magistratus Extraordinarius; an extraordinary magistrate.

This became the default position for constant maydays to sort out our limitless political shenanigans. It was in 1996, that the PTI was launched by Imran Khan. He twice refused General Zia’s offer to join his government and was sent to jail for defying General Musharraf during the judiciary restoration campaign.

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Road to Victory

Contesting its first election in 1997, PTI fielded 134 candidates. Imran Khan contested from 8 constituencies including DI Khan, Mianwali and Lahore. PTI could not win a single seat. Imran Khan mustered a total of 53,352 votes from 8 seats including a paltry 911 from NA 190 Karachi. In the 2002 election, PTI won a single seat; it boycotted the 2008 elections.

2013 saw it form a government in KPK, whereas it won the 2018 general elections. The journey to Islamabad spanned a grueling 22 years of undiminished intent; yet Imran Khan was dubbed the selected one. Even as a lone PTI parliamentarian, Imran Khan remained the sole voice against US policies, while both military and civil rulers obediently kowtowed to the implosive diktats.

Imran Khan’s Efforts

Imran Khan’s aversion to pitting Pakistan into destructive alien wars, reforming the state and society and propagating economic self-reliance has remained constant throughout his political career. In office, this was the fulcrum of his policies; yet he is labeled the master of U-turns. Imran Khan’s three-and-a-half years in power saw the highest exports, remittances and tax collection.

Deemed impossible, the Single National Curriculum was formulated and implemented. His tenure saw expansion and modernization of industry, initiation of dams and a 6 percent growth unimaginable for decades. A crucially needed Pakistan-centric foreign policy was adopted; yet he is branded a foreign agent. The environment remains central to Imran Khan’s policy. The billion tree tsunami is cited as a template by international bodies as is his Ehsaas program.

Much more was achieved as the rampaging Covid was decimating global economies. Handling of the pandemic itself earned worldwide laurels. Experts within the US cite it as an example that should have been followed by them. He instilled a sense of nationalism; worth more than all the dollars in this world. Imran Khan had Islamophobia identified globally; yet his detractors reprehensibly accuse him of blasphemy.

The La Trattativa

The guardians of the status quo are masters at repeating blunders. An orchestrated vote of no-confidence saw the return of our perennial tormentors. Remotely controlled by an absconding convict languishing in London, painstaking achievements gave way to runaway inflation and extreme hardships. Devastating floods further lay bare the decades’ long criminal negligence of our rulers. This vortex is only outdone by the zeal with which corruption cases worth billions are being sent to the shredder.

In 1992, in a bid to curtail criminal activities that had plagued Italy for years, representatives of the Italian government held negotiations with the Mafia. The government offered to repeal anti-Mafia laws and ease prison regulations and ultimately release convicted Mafia members. In exchange, the Mafia agreed to put their activities on hold. This became known as La Trattativa or the State-Mafia Pact.

Populists and Democracy

Democracy’s cornerstone mandates all legitimate power emanating from the people. Our unaccountable powerbrokers ensured that political conduct never aligned with the same, instead nurturing a mutually beneficial power patronage cabal. Apart from his delivery in office, Imran Khan’s massive following stems from the acceptance of his narrative that state capture by such elements is the actual predicament of Pakistan.

This has been Imran Khan’s greatest achievement, as has been his unprecedented mobilization of the hitherto politically averse women, young and the educated. Failing to discredit Imran Khan, even with the bigoted religious card, the PDM has now taken to calling Imran Khan a populist. His followers are dubbed an indoctrinated lot of burger families gone astray. For them, our Diaspora has no clue about the ground realities here. One can understand this coming from the cornered lot.

Certain analysts, despite facts and figures to the contrary, parrot the same. It becomes all the starker with their voracious defence of our very own La Trattativa. Populism has become a slur used for anyone, especially Imran Khan, who dares challenge the status quo. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey across 27 countries found all the surveyed, including those in the US, Britain, Italy and Spain, dissatisfied with their democracies. The core reason cited was political corruption.

Yascha Mounk, a political theorist at Harvard, asserts that there is a stark realization that democracies are not aligning public policies with the peoples’ will. In 2018 alone, this realization translated into 20 challengers of the status quo holding executive office globally. Our status quo is the chimera coalition with a 75-member bulging cabinet.  A tried, tested and discredited self-declared financial czar is the latest addition; the outcome shall be nothing more than jugglery of the dollar rate and fiscal figures.

Imran Khan & the Status Quo

A multitude suffering from the recent deluge saw the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister in tow, paying his much-required homage to the late Queen, followed by a UN side-line meeting binge. We all know the outcome of these photo-ops. World leaders are adept at the traits of their meeting counterparts. In Nobel laureate Giorgos Seferis’s words, a “lion” is made up of the lambs it has digested.

Benumbed, we accepted the status quo as masters of our destinies for decades. In doing so we enabled the amputation of Pakistan and the pillage of what remained. Thankfully, we refuse to be a part of the sordid game anymore. Under the leadership of Imran Khan, the people have shown unprecedented resolve in doing away with the guardians of the status quo and their charade of rejuvenated illusions.

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