No further experimenting please! | By S R H Hashmi


No further experimenting please!

THROUGH his words and deeds, Imran Khan has proved himself to be an indecisive person who, from one day to the other, does not seem capable of making up his mind as to what he really wants to achieve.

For example, politicians struggle, hold public meetings and organize campaigns with a view to convincing people to vote for their parties and to get inside assemblies, with the ultimate objective of becoming the head of government.

And once they are in that advantageous position, they strive to consolidate their position by winning over more and more Assembly members.

However, it was different with Imran Khan. He managed to reach the Assemblies not so much due to his decades-long struggle but more due to the fact that dis-satisfied with deplorable performance of the existing major parties, the masses were looking for an alternative which they saw in Imran Khan.

Still, his real rise came through the help of the establishment. Unfortunately, Imran Khan seemed to believe that those who have brought him to power are duty-bound to keep him there, with him being under no obligation even to maintain a minimum level of courtesy, much less resolve genuine grievances of coalition partners.

This obviously caused resentment among his coalition partners, some of whom eventually left him, thus causing his ouster from government.

His attitude towards his long-time, dependable friends and associates was no better either, many of whom left him, with one even filing a case against PTI.

Even when PTI got ousted from government through the no-confidence vote, it was still the largest party in the National Assembly but Imran Khan asked members to resign because he did not want to sit with those he calls thieves.

And now that the PTI is out of Assemblies through its own choice, Imran Khan desperately wants to sneak back in there, and is using all sorts of tactics to force the government to announce immediate election date.

He has made it a joke, like children playing government. Just how much nuisance he wants the nation to put up with?

Political activity comprises holding public meetings in various cities which he did without facing hurdles from the government.

And then, he vowed to bring twenty lakh men, women and children to Islamabad and to sit there till the government announced fresh elections.

But the number of persons that he finally managed to bring to Islamabad was dismally low, hence instead of staying in Islamabad until the government announced election date, he dispersed the very next day with a new promise to return to Islamabad if the government did not announce fresh general election within six days.

Probably, even this promise of returning in six days will remain unfulfilled. Marking a complete departure from the usual political routine and acting like medieval Rajas and Maharajas, Imran Khan seems to be planning to bring large Lashkars to besiege the country’s capital Islamabad, hoping to paralyze the government and thus forcing it to capitulate.

And Imran Khan is justifying this planned ‘ambush’ on the capital calling it his constitutional right to hold ‘peaceful protests’.

Surprisingly, he is hoping to receive the court’s blessing for such an exercise. However, while being so insistent on exercising his constitutional right to stage ‘peaceful’ protests, he forgets that others also have a right to live peacefully and to move around freely to perform their daily functions like going to offices and other institutions, and running their businesses, without let or hindrance.

Theoretically, there could be nothing wrong with allowing the PTI to congregate at a place outside Islamabad, where party followers could stay for months if they liked, without causing any inconvenience to the residents of Islamabad.

However, it is unlikely that Imran Khan will agree to such a venue and worse still, remain confined to the place.

And that because such a non obtrusive activity would not impact the daily routine of Islamabad residents and, as such, will fail to ‘persuade’ the government to surrender and to accept Imran Khan’s demands of announcing immediate election.

And that means despite promises and assurances given by the PTI, the large gathering in Islamabad or its vicinity is unlikely to remain peaceful and stay put in the designated place.

Even the past experience points towards this fact. So, allowing PTI to take large crowds to congregate inside or close to Islamabad could be a very risky venture.

Even in the unlikely event of things going smoothly, and the government announcing and holding early elections, Imran Khan will certainly reject the result which is sure to fall far short of his expectations, and we will be back to square one.

In his war against coalition government led by Shehbaz Sharif, Imran Khan is using just about every weapon that he can get hold of, including accusing the government of planning to recognize Israel.

I am not an admirer of Sharifs but I know they are shrewd enough to realize that without a just and acceptable solution of the Palestine issue, no Pakistani government could even dream of normalizing relations with Israeli terrorist state.

There was a move during Gen Musharraf’s rule who even addressed the American Jewish Congress in the US.

However, he unequivocally linked the question of diplomatic relations with Israel with a just solution of the Palestinian-Israeli problem that resulted in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

While our government can’t exercise much control over dual-national Pakistani residents abroad, the news of a state-owned PTV’s employee visiting Israel as part of the delegation, must be investigated and proper action taken against the accused, if found guilty.

Coming back to Pakistani politics, I would say that all considered, the only sane option is to let the present dispensation continue till August 2023, but with tabs on.

— The writer is senior political analyst based in Karachi.