Imran Khan and the high moral ground
THERE has been a belief in Pakistan that any ruler of Pakistan needs three entities on his side to function effectively and they are Allah, America and Army or for short called the Three “As” out of these the previous government led by Imran Khan was ousted because they had lost the confidence of the army and America and if Allah is still on their side is yet to be determined in spite of all the religious rhetoric used by the former Prime Minister.
After the allegations of a US conspiracy and the collaboration of their local partners the government of the USA and the spokesperson of the White House have both very vehemently rejected all the claims and allegations of Imran khan as concocted and absolutely false.
At home the National Security Committee, the ISI and the ISPR have also forcefully denied seeing any proof of a foreign conspiracy in booting out the PTI government For the first time in our history the DG ISI and the DG ISPR held a joint press conference to reject all the false claims of the PTI leadership and to protect their institutions from the insidious allegations of the PTI Chairman.
After his ouster from power, Imran Khan has continued to attack not only his political rivals but also his former mentors and backers the powerful military establishment.
At this stage it appears that the conflict is not between the PTI and the PDM but the struggle is with the establishment and Imran Khan is hell bent on discrediting and maligning his former aiders and abettors.
Imran Khan has also claimed that he was honoured by Donald Trump thus showing fondness with the Islam phobic Donald Trump while not trying to make any contact with Joe Biden.
The plot thickened when the master of U Turns Imran Khan in his interview to the Financial Times took another summersault on the regime change narrative and opined that he wanted good relations with the USA and the so-called conspiracy was “over and behind me” thus very conveniently negating his own narrative of the regime change.
It is yet to be seen how the US responds to this new overture from Mr Khan. All international relations and friendships are built solidly on trust and mutual interests and it is highly unlikely that the US government or any other country like Saudi Arabia will ever trust Imran Khan, especially after the sordid incident of selling the watch gifted by the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
During the interview Mr Khan borrowed a page from Ayub Khan’s book “Friends not masters” and accused the USA of being the masters and not friends of Pakistan.
In his enthusiasm to promote his political views and broaden his vote bank it appears that Mr. Khan has not only purposefully denied the truth but also damaged beyond repairs his relationship with powerful forces both internationally and domestically.
The truth is bitter but beggars cannot be choosers so a country in debt up to its neck and dependent on the IMF and other foreign donors to survive cannot think of being on equal footing with the rich and superpower countries of the world.
The long march of the PTI has already claimed four lives: a poor party worker Hassan Ali, a policeman, journalist SadafNadeem and a motor cyclist and their lives have been extinguished for a political cause of the PTI and yet the Attempt on Imran Khan’s life has grabbed the attention of the media.
This shows us the reality that money and political power mean inequality and this is true for ordinary people and nations.
Mr Khan had four years of power and he failed to reduce the national debt, eradicate corruption, bring back looted wealth, punish the elite classes, reduce poverty, and provide cheap housing.
In fact his use of the religion card and cheap slogans like praising the Taliban and opining that “The Taliban have broken the shackles of slavery” might have made him more popular with the religious factions in Pakistan but it has definitely placed the country in international isolationism.
After the departure of the PTI government Pakistan has been removed from the UK’s list of “High Risk Countries” the proposal of Pakistan at the COP27 conference to place “loss and damage” on the agenda is feather in our cap and above all the country has finally been removed from the grey-list of the FATF.
Any ruler in Pakistan who uses the religion card with impunity and showers praise on religious fanatics and shows sympathies for the militant groups operating in Pakistan just cannot expect to gain any respect in the eyes of the world community.
The current PDM government has not delivered in governance or in the economic field and the voters will decide their fate in the next elections when Imran Khan again will be the greatest challenge with or without the help of his former mentors.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.