KP: A challenge for Imran Khan

Askari Raza Malik

THE most redeeming facet of Imran Khan’s politics has been his courage to publically admit his faults especially in the backdrop of most politicians’ incorrigible faith in their own infallibility. Midway through his party’s tenure in the government, it is time for him to take an objective stock of its performance in KPK, otherwise also a necessity that has been catalyzed by General Hamid’s resignation, ostensibly a minor crisis that could turn out to be the acid test for PTI. The people of KP are no political suckers. They have proved themselves to be politically the most aware and mature lot in the whole of Pakistan. Religiously motivated by tradition, they first put their trust in the religious groups.
The Chief Minister before his inauguration grew a graceful beard, an act of ultimate righteousness as assumed by the religious and behind its façade proceeded to loot the Province with religious zeal. In the next election the people booted them out. Then came the red shirts, red caps with their age-old nationalistic slogans. Many of them were known figures and respectable in their own right, the self-styled sole spokesmen of the rights of the Pashtuns. Their agenda turned out to be one of complete apathy to the poor nation they claimed to represent. One had heard of briefcases full of money. They introduced trunks for cash. In appearance they were articulate and cultured. In practice they were worst than common thieves. In the next election they were also disgraced and shown the door, some of their stalwarts having to lick the dust.
As for the PPP, the people like the rest of Pakistani voters were overwhelmed by Bhutto’s charisma but could not be taken for a ride for ever by that never to be realized promise of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’. Its presence in KP is nominal and is highly unlikely to improve in near future. The people of KP have posed their trust in Imran Khan, an outsider, like Bhutto. They will strictly judge him and his party by their performance. With little to show outside KP in terms of political standing, his party’s performance here may in fact become the decisive factor for his future in national politics. Coming first to the KP Accountability Bureau whose chief has resigned in protest over the amendments in the bill that have purportedly put unnecessary bureaucratic impediments in the autonomous functioning of his office.
General Hamid has the reputation of being a simple, straight and a clean soldier with dignity and self-respect that he has jealously guarded all his life. He is energetic and considered to be a doer. He was the best choice for the job and will be extremely difficult to replace. Let Imran Khan or Pervez Khattak not blunder into the same pitfall Musharraf did with his National Accountability Bureau (NAB), when he wanted his first NAB Chief, General Muhammad Amjad to allow space to his political cohorts. General Amjad a serving soldier, unable to make compromises, did not resign but requested to be posted out, the request that was granted and enabled this outstanding General to quietly fade away. The present NAB is the tree that Musharraf had sown. The lesser said the better about this warped institution.
Imran Khan has to immediately intervene. His intent to form a committee to review the amendments has nothing plausible. It looks like the same old hackneyed ploy by Pakistani politicians, forming committees, which have borne no fruits ever. The least he can do as a saving grace is to encourage the opposition to put up the amendments, which PTI should accept wholeheartedly. And then a real leadership act will be to ask General Hamid to take back his resignation and continue with his good job. This will not only catapult Pervez Khattak’s prestige sky high, but will also tremendously enhance Imran Khan’s stature in national politics.
Pervez Khattak is a genuine leader. He is the simplest dressed Chief Minister in the country truly representing the poverty stricken people of Pakistan in sharp contrast to those who are dressed in designers’ suits, crocodile skin shoes and millions worth of watches shamelessly carrying the begging bowl from one door to another. He eats his own lunch. To the dismay of his office staff, there are no free lunches in the CM’s office. He travels with least protocol and can share a car with two of his colleagues to travel incognito to Lahore for a party meeting. Even if he were involved in a case by omission only, he should have the greatness to step aside or else allow the same NAB Chief with the same powers to proceed against him; that is if he wished to go down in history as one of the rare leaders produced by KPK and Pakistan. There are always moments in history, which the great grab and the ordinary fail to recognize. This is one such moment for the PTI.
Now take the law and order situation in KPK that is the sole prerogative of the Provincial government and the Police. The preoccupation of Police with terror related activities is no excuse for abandoning the common citizen at the mercy of ruthless mafias that have made life unliveable in the Province. The kidnapping for ransom, a chronic malaise though, is awfully on the rise. It has developed into a well-organized criminal network with tentacles in every neighbourhood complete with brokers and middlemen. It allegedly involves the influential from the Police, civil administration and judiciary alongwith the powerful clout-wielding criminals. Extortion started towards the fag end of the ANP rule. It is rampant now largely affecting the high middle class and the wealthy with no official connections.
The sectarian killing continues unabated with the minority sect living in absolute insecurity. Mr Durrani reputed to be an honest police chief has been allowed unprecedented independence by the administration. Unfortunately his performance remains much below par. The KP Police is proud to have produced lion hearted officers of the like of Saad Malik and Sifvat Ghayur who in the days of utter chaos stood their ground in the face of immense threat from drug mafia and the terrorist nets. They were feared, targeted and martyred to live forever in their beloved land. Shall we not make them our role models, live like them and die like them?
The ANP with much fanfare gave the name KP to the Province. An ordinary citizen asked, ‘will it change my life also’? The Police is independent. Will it make a difference to our lives too? Now are the defining times for Imran Khan and his party’s wiz kids to carry out an honest introspection about their performance in all the important sectors of public life. Philosophical rhetoric is not enough. They have to perform, may be a little more than the ordinary to establish their credentials. It is crucial to their future here and elsewhere in Pakistan.
— The writer is a vast experience of serving on various command and staff positions.

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