THE government of Imran Khan is wrestling non stop against two kind of difficulties from the day it took office. These are gigantic, varied, intricate and formidable in magnitude and character. One kind of difficulties are those which it inherited. Others are those which are being laid in breathless succession by ousted ruling elite to aggravate the situation in order to fail Imran Khan. These include rumours, speculations, charade, conspiracies theories, economic vandalism and institutional bungling and hurdles at their behest. These sly moves spread anxiety, uncertainty and chaos in the country. They plan them to cash in and equally do not leave fleeting opportunities to gounmilked. Unfortunately, a number of media houses spearhead their moves. The truth is confounded with falsehood. They speak half-truth. They twist facts artfully by skillful use of political chicanery, sophistry, craft and guile to befool simpleminded, gullible and hapless people. This is their favourite stamping ground to advance their uglier pursuits.
The latest example is report of Transparency International on Corruption Perception 2019 which showed Pakistan slipping down three places on the index. With its release, people saw instant its mushroom projection on media screens. Underlying mischief was to discredit Imran Khan in eyes of people because he has come into power on slogan of accountability to eliminate corruption from the country. To the contrary, report showed increase in corruption under his watch. This could inflict a mortal blow to his credibility. In mad race, Shahbaz Sharif even went to call period of Nawaz Sharif, the most transparent time. Contrarily, a clarification issued by organization later told an opposite story that period covered under the report was of his stint in power (2015-2017). This would have caused their propaganda gimmick to recoil on them but practically, it caused nothing because on media, this fact was underplayed. Another recent example is of bickering within PTI and reservations of its allies. These were blown out of proportions to sow doubts about future of PTI government at Centre as well as in Punjab. Such moves take toll and help ruling elite to make inroads into turf, belonging to PTI.
Mainly Imran Khan has come into power, riding on the back of youth and middle class. Both segments did exceedingly well but it is a work half done. In real sense, change entails time and effort in substance. This implies understanding, patience, perseverance and sacrifice by agents of change and their followers. In our environment, need of these essential elements for effecting the change, may be even greater for reason of relatively more abnormal circumstances, we have. Notably, these include; opposition to change is well entrenched, a large chunk of the population is impoverished, youth who are quick to hope and equally fast to get disillusioned, state apparatus is dysfunctional and corrupt, economy is in absolute shambles, relatively far greater outside pressure and influence. Last but not the least, Imran Khan is short on understanding, shrewdness and experience, compatible with imperatives of change in Pakistan. No saner mind could think and allow chance of change to fritter away because we have paid heavily for the change, not once but twice. Once it was in the nineties and second time over last decade. Both times, vultures remained the same. Neither we could pay once more nor could wait longer for the change.
Our coffers are empty. We have gone bankrupt morally and socially. Our sovereignty is in jeopardy. Our huge youth bulge stands at verge of becoming backbreaking liability than a dividend. Our institutions would die natural death and it is needless to remind that institutions are warps and weft of a nation. Increasing poverty could easily become last straw on camel back. The leaders are born rarely and opportunity seldom knocks at the door. Precisely this is the reason that Imran Khan is called an only and last hope. Generally middle class is the moving force of a society because they are self-made, widely awake and relatively more contented and self-contained. It has already played a key role to bring the process of change thus far and inevitably, has to carry it further largely single-handedly. Three aspects are of utmost importance. One, they should never fall prey to jugglery and gimmickry of ruling elite because fraud and deceit are in their DNA. Two, they should ungrudgingly show willingness for provision of financial and social relief to downtrodden people first because they could face privations of life financially and socially for longer duration. Three, they are employed at positions of authority and impact.
Their honest working could contribute a great deal for furtherance of cause of the change. This would definitely deter unsavoury characters not to indulge themselves in adventurism at the expense of the country. Despite his inadequacies, Imran Khan remains credible, steadfast and inflexible for core purpose of the change. In face of possible political blowback, he has shown door to three disgruntled provincial ministers in KP. Similarly in Punjab, he remains stuck to his guns while instructing Chief Secretary and IG Police to continue conducting official business on merit and merit only without taking undue pressure from political quarters. Another glaring aspect about Imran Khan is that in full glare of global media, he could shine in front of galaxy of world leaders and overshadow the nemesis. This could harvest richly for good of the country.
—The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.