There is nothing new and constructive in Imran Khan’s speeches which he is delivering on TV every other day. Prior to his leg injury on 3 Nov, he delivered more than 70 speeches in public gatherings and kept repeating the same set of diatribes.
His utterings are filled with laments, complaints, accusations, invectives, threats and pledges to continue with his so-called jihad for illusionary Azadi till he regained power and locked up his opponents in jail.
He has taken his ouster from power to his heart and is not reconciled with it. His downfall is viewed by him as the biggest conspiracy and tragedy befallen anyone in Pakistan. Failure of his multiple attempts to dislodge the govt by using his street power has further jangled his nerves. It has made him crazy and his behavior is akin to an angry old village woman cursing every passerby. After repeated misfires, he is now wanting to play his last trump card by dissolving the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP. Analysts are of the view that given the mixed loyalties of his party leaders and allies, it will also backfire.
Understanding the matter better
To give vent to his pent up anger, he keeps blaming and badmouthing the US, Gen Bajwa and PDM leaders. He is a past master of u-turns and he changes his stances without any remorse.
Till recent, he was highly critical of neutrality, but today he wants the new army chief to remain neutral. At the same time, he is pinning high hopes on Gen Asim Munir that he will play a constructive role in arranging snap polls and in taking to task the killers of Arshad Sharif, torturers of Gill and Swati and those who had attempted to kill him.
Of all his detractors, his guns never stop firing at Gen Bajwa, who haunts him day and night. He has declared him as his destroyer. He is wrongfully equating Gen Musharraf’s NRO 1 with Gen Bajwa’s NRO 2 since both have no similarities.
These days, IK is narrating the stories of barbarities of the incumbent govt, which he terms as an imported govt installed by the US and the military establishment.
To prove his point, he mentions about the gruesome manner in which his Azadi March was prevented from entering Isbd on May 25, and barricading of Isbd in the first week of Nov to prevent his cavalcade from storming Isbd.
He is highlighting the cases of abduction and torture of Shahbaz Gill and Azam Swati, persecution of media anchors, the murder of Arshad Sharif and an assassination attempt on him. He says that never before any Pakistani civil or military regime had indulged in such brutality as is being committed by the PDM govt. Interior Minister Sanaullah is painted as a butcher.
His memory of past events remain confined to the rough period from second half of 2021 onwards and his most painful moments are from March to April 2022 during which his goose was cooked.
His memory lapses for the period from 2011 to mid-2021, during which he was the darling of the military establishment. He forgets how fondly he was pampered and patronized by a few powerful generals, who enabled his one-seater PTI to become a 30 NA seats party, a winner in KP, third largest in Punjab and some seats in Sindh in the 2013 elections.
He also forgets how he was encouraged and backed by the same set of generals and some more to stage 126 days sit-in at Islamabad in 2014 to topple the one-year-old PML-N govt on unproven charges of rigging. He forgets the series of hurdles he created to impede growth and to fail the sitting govt which had secured a two-thirds majority, and was performing satisfactorily on all the fronts of macroeconomics, energy and terrorism.
His mind goes blank when reminded of the Panama scandal in which the name of NS was not there in the list of 450 bigwigs keeping offshore accounts.
He never makes a mention of the undesirable involvement and activism of the military establishment and the judiciary under CJ Saqib Nisar who had given his promise to IK to sort out NS.
A special JIT was formed to be able to disqualify sitting PM in July 2017 on Aqama, and not on corruption or money laundering charges. It was considered essential by the planners to disqualify NS in order to weaken the fort of PML N in Punjab and clear the way for PTI.
When no progress could be made in Punjab, other PML-N leaders were harassed and arrested by NAB on unproven charges.
The patronage of the military establishment kept IK safe from the hand of the law despite his brazen defiance and violence. He was not arrested and put in jail for even one hour.
IK forgets how NS and his family were castigated by the PTI media cell and were chased by the NAB court duly monitored by a special judge to convict him and his daughter and Capt Safdar and send them to jail. The pro-Nawaz media houses and anchors were also ridiculed. PTI brought in the cultures of political violence, abuse and indecency in politics.
To capture seats in various provinces, BAP, GDA and TLP were created. PML-N govt in Baluchistan was removed and the BAP regime was installed in Jan 2018. It deprived PML N of the quota of Baluchistan senate seats. Before the Senate elections in March 2018, NS was deprived of his Party Chairmanship so as to disallow him to nominate candidates.
The establishment had a role in manipulating senate election results and in appointing an unknown Sanjrani as chairman.
In Jun 2022, a week before the general elections, NS, Maryam and Safdar were jailed to disallow them to take part in an election campaign.
In spite of all the wrongdoings, including buying the loyalties of PML N electables from South Punjab, and shutting down RBS on the polling day in order to stuff bogus votes in ballot boxes, PTI won elections in the Centre and in Punjab with a razor-edge.
The PTI failed to achieve even a simple majority and had to perforce get married up with PML Q, MQM A, BNP M, BAP, GDA and independents to complete the magic figure and form govts. PML-N was a clear victor in Punjab despite the serious handicaps and foul play.
Once the PTI took over power in Aug 2018, its foremost priority was to destroy PML-N and PPP, win over the electives from the two major parties and gain a two-thirds majority in the Centre and in Punjab.
The PML-N leaders were kept under the leash of the NAB. They were put in NAB detention centers for 90 to 120 days without court orders. NAB, FIA, police, ANSF, FBR and other agencies hounded and persecuted them with a vengeance to break their will.
IK kept hoping that sooner than later 70 to 80 MNAs and MPAs of PML N would join PTI but it didn’t happen. His favourite slogan was that he wouldn’t spare any culprit but he couldn’t convict a single looter. He could afford to threaten and intimidate them and not to seek their political cooperation since the COAS and the DG ISI were covering up his flanks and rear.
IK and his whole team is inexperienced in governance and statecraft had to heavily bank upon the military establishment. The latter extended wholehearted support at every step. IK’s mess-ups at home and abroad were tackled by Gen Bajwa. The latter had a compulsion of extending support since he didn’t want the new experiment to fail.
IK tirelessly praised his mentor Bajwa and rated him as the best general produced by the Army. To grant him a 3-year extension, IK sought cooperation from the opposition for the first and last time.
The turning point
He got so attached to Lt Gen Faiz Hamid that he picked up a quarrel with his godfather Bajwa over his posting out in July 2021. That was the turning point that ended their honeymoon.
Since IK had become excessively addicted to the crutches provided by the military establishment, he couldn’t reconcile when Bajwa decided to take back the crutches and make the army apolitical. To win back his patronage, IK offered him a lifelong extension in service but he declined.
The change of posture converted Gen Bajwa from a saint into a Satan. All the good deeds done by Bajwa to make IK successful have been dumped in the sea. He is being presented as a monster responsible for his political misfortunes and for all the current fault lines of Pakistan.
He is covering up his failures by saying that the real power was in the hands of Gen Bajwa and he was just a string puppet dancing to his tunes.
There is no use crying over spilled milk. Yesterday, it was the PTI enjoying jibing at the PDM, and today it is the turn of the PDM to settle old scores. None seem to be much concerned about the sinking economy, although Shehbaz and his team are making claims that they are seriously making desperate efforts to salvage the economy and have announced a welfare package to provide some relief to the people.
A senseless political tug-of-war that has bred political instability and uncertainty is the biggest hurdle in the way of improving the economy.
The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, and he took part in an epic battle of Hilli in the 1971 War with India. He is also a defense & security analyst, international columnist, and author of five books. His sixth book is under publication. He is the Chairman of Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.