Imran’s politics of resistance & challenges faced by him
I recently read a book “The age of the Strongman, how the Cult of the leader threatens democracy around the world.
” Written by scholar and journalist Gidion Rachman. In this book, Rachman writes about a new breed of Political leaders, who can be called Populist Strongman.
These leaders are essentially charismatic but authoritarian and use democracy only as a vehicle to get from one place to the other.
These leaders claim to back the ordinary person against the elite; and feel in their self-righteousness, that they should not be restrained by ordinary law of the land.
Although Imran Khan has not been named in this book as such a leader, I have a strong feeling that he (Imran) has many similarities with such populist strongman leaders.
Ever since a vote of no confidence was passed against the PTI-led government, the country has been plunged into an unprecedented political crisis by Imran Khan and his party.
Firstly, the Imran government was not willing to accept a genuine political move by the opposition parties, and had the’ No-confidence motion’ dismissed through their Deputy Speaker.
This was a blatantly unconstitutional ruling, as was declared by the courts later.The motion was again moved and passed under the orders of the Supreme Court.
PTI as a protest resigned from the National Assembly. Soon after resigning from the National Assembly Imran Khan drummed up an unprecedented level of public protest against the new government.
The crowds in the rallies, resonated to Imran Khan’s false narrative of America being involved in passing the no confidence motion against his government.
Imran also regularly blamed the army for being neutral, essentially a constitutional position.
Imran, believing in his moral superiority, was asking the army, not to follow the constitution but to help him and his party against an allegedly corrupt opposition.
Imran’s aggressive campaign against the government and the establishment, touched a common nerve with the people.
PTI’s popularity had tanked while in office, sky rocketed not only because of Imran’s campaign, but also due to inflation and high prices, the blame for which the PTI conveniently put at the door of the new government.
In such a situation, the PTI won an overwhelming victory on the 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly, which were vacated due to the disqualification of PTI members for floor crossing.
PTI today is no doubt riding on a high wave of popularity, and would most probably win elections hands down if held today.
But Imran Khan and his party has also created some serious legal problems for themselves, which could lead to their undoing.
Imran Khan in specific and his party in general faces four serious legal challenges. The first serious challenge faced by Imran Khan and PTI is the adverse decision given by the Election Commission, in the foreign funding or prohibited funding case.
In spite of PTI’s protestations, it has been ruled by the EC, that PTI has failed to declare and justify large sums of monies given to them by foreign companies and none Pakistani individuals, which are prohibited according to law.
Another damaging observation is about the certificates given by party leader Imran Khan for the last five years to the EC justifying the veracity of the returns given to Election Commission.
The federal government is likely to move a reference against the PTI and its leadership for the disbandment of the party and the disqualification of its leadership including Imran Khan.
The final decision will be given by the Supreme Court, but if the standards of justice applied, are similar to the ones applied as in the case of disqualification of Ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the chances of disqualification of Imran Khan are very high, if not of the disbandment of PTI.
The second challenge is the Tosha Khana case which pertains solely to the person of Imran Khan.
Apparently during his stint in his office Mr.Khan took some expensive gifts like watches and jewelry from the Tosha Khana, without proper documentation.
Later Mr Khan sold these gifts in the open market, an act strictly prohibited according to law and the Tosha Khana rules.
It is said that the people who bought these gifts from Imran Khan or his agents, informed the original owner of these gifts — an Arab Prince, thus leading to a cooling of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and that country.
A reference pertaining to the Thosha Khana has also been sent to Election Commission through the Speaker of National Assembly.
According to neutral legal observers the chances of disqualification of Imran in this case are also very high, because he has not declared these gifts in his income-tax papers and other legal documents.
One must remember that Nawaz was disqualified, for non-declaration in his returns a salary due to him from his son, which Nawaz had not even taken
The third serious legal challenge faced by Mr Khan, is the contempt of court notice issued to him by the Islamabad High Court.
This notice is with regard to the threatening language which Mr.Khan has used against a female Additional District Judge of Islamabad Ms.Zeba Chaudhry.
According to Mr.Fawad Chaudhry, Mr.Khan does not intend to seek forgiveness in this case, rather he wants to contest the case and explain his position to the court. Mr.Khan’s intention is that he had only warned the judge of legal consequences.
Again, according to neutral Jurists, if Mr.Khan decides to contest the case, there is a big chance that he would be held in contempt, which will eventually lead to his disqualification.
The fourth legal challenge against Imran Khan is a terrorism case. This case has been registered by the government against Imran, when he threatened the public officers and a female additional judge in his speech.
In my opinion, words no matter how incendiary, do not merit a terrorism case.I think the case does not hold any water, and in any event, a contempt of court against Imran Khan regarding the same speech is already in the court.
In my humble opinion, the way forward from the current political crisis is to keep politics in Parliament and not take it to courts at the drop of a hat.
But for this to happen, political parties have to treat each other as only political opponents and not as personal enemies.
They have to develop a minimum level of trust and a working relationship, so that they can sit together and solve most of their problems, rather than looking towards mediations or the courts.
Courts should not be making political decisions and disqualifying political leaders. But then modus-operandi has also to be devised to review the disqualification case of another former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif.
Thus, a level playing field should be given to all political parties in the forthcoming elections.
—The writer, based in Islamabad, is a former Health Minister of KP.