Pakistan has undergone a transition of governments recently with the un-ceremonial exit of Imran Khan. How this was accomplished raises many troubling questions about the power brokers in this Muslim majority country of 220 million people. More recently, the ex-Prime minister addressed a mammoth gathering in the frontier city of Peshawar to his supporters, alleging that his government has been a victim of US-backed regime change. However, hours after his speech, a presser issued a rebuttal by Pakistan’s powerful military and the supreme court bar association instead of the government in Islamabad, which left many perplexed. One can be reminded of the famous story by Hans Christian Andersen (1837) by these events.
Many years ago, a greedy and wicked emperor lived; all he cared about was his clothes. He had coat for every hour of the day and was often found in his dressing room. Then, one day two swindlers came to this great city and posed as weavers who could weave the most magnificent fabric. Their fabric was the finest, but it was also invisible to anyone who was not fit for office or unusually stupid.
How does Pakistan’s situation resemble this story?
“Those would be just the clothes for me,” thought the emperor. “If I wore them, I would be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. Moreover, the emperor could tell the wise men from the fools. The emperor thought to get some of the stuff woven for him right away.” He paid the two swindlers a large sum to start work immediately. They set up two looms and pretended to weave, though nothing was on the looms. All the funds went into their pockets. Emperor thought he must find out how the weavers were getting on and as he felt a little uncomfortable that all who were unfit for their positions would not be able to see the fabric. He thought he would send someone else to discover the weaver’s progress. The entire town knew the cloth’s extraordinary power and was itching to find out how stupid their neighbors were.
The emperor decided to send his most honest old minister to the wearers so that he could have the most accurate description of how the cloth looked as the honorable old minister entered the wearer’s room. He could not see anything at all.
The swindlers requested that he closely examine and approve the excellent pattern and its beautiful colors. The old minister could not see anything because there was nothing to see. He thought he was the unfit fool for his position, but no soul must know this. The weavers asked him again about his opinion of how excellent the cloth was. The old minister replied it is beautiful. I can not wait to tell the emperor. The swindlers described every intricate detail of their fine fabric. The old minister paid the closest attention so that he could convey this to his emperor.
The swindlers kept asking for more money for weaving, and all went into their pockets. Later, the emperor sent another trustworthy official to verify the weavers’ progress. The same thing happened. He could not see anything as there was nothing to see. Finally, the official realized that he was not that stupid, but he must be unfit for his office. However, he must not let anyone find out. The swindlers again describe every fine detail of their magnificent work that the official conveyed to his emperor. It is spellbinding. He told the emperor.
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This cloth became the talk of the town. Finally, the emperor decided to visit himself and examine this delicate cloth. He took his two most trusted officials with him, who already had inspected the cloth to the weavers’ looms.
As the emperor entered the room, he found the swindlers weaving, but nothing was to see; not a single thread on the loom. However, the two officials already duped said, look, my majesty, how beautiful, how rich and exquisite is the pattern of this cloth. The emperor was shocked. He thought he could not see anything. he must be unfit to be an emperor. He could not accept that. He nodded. It is excellent looking at the empty loom. Nothing could make him say he did not see anything. Everyone around the emperor shouted; perfect, magnificent, beautiful, and so on. His wise men advised him to wear this cloth to the grand procession he was leading soon. The swindlers were awarded the highest honor for their noble work. On the night before the parade, the swindlers spent all night finalizing the details of the emperor’s outfit.
The following day before the procession, the swindlers handed over the emperor’s outfit detailing trousers. Here is the coat, and this is the mantle,” naming each garment. “All of them are as light as a spider web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that makes them so fine.”
All the noblemen agreed though there was nothing to see. So off went the emperor to his procession, wearing nothing, and all the wise men kept praising how beautiful his outfit was. Everyone in the street and windows lining the procession said how magnificent the emperor’s clothes were.
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No one wanted to admit that they were a fool
Suddenly a child said, the emperor is naked; he has not got anything on!
The emperor shivered as he knew the child was right. However nevertheless, he thought the procession had to go on, so he walked more proudly, wholly naked.
It is not desirable that the powerful military establishment be equated to the emperor, courts, the SCBA, and the opposition leaders to the wise old men. Walking naked on this procession without feeling the nation’s pulse will lead to catastrophic outcomes down the road. Realistic national dialogue among stakeholders with attempts to diffuse the political turmoil is in the greater national interest.
Imran Khan has convinced the streets that “The emperor has no clothes and leading the procession any further will not work.”
The author is a Physician residing in the United States and a Faculty member at Brown University in Rhode Island. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.