Mudassir Saeed |
Before the title confuses the readers, I must clarify that Imran Khan is not going to rule the country; he would rather govern it. Unlike Nawaz Sharif – a Mughal by nature, he is not a despot. Above that, he is the quite opposite to Asif Zardari, he is not alien to his people. He knows his land, country and the people the way no other leader does.
Last Sunday night, Imran Khan delivered what would probably be known, for the rest of his life, as the soberest, impressive and effective speech. In this marathon speech, reflecting on the country’s prevailing crisis and the potential the country offers, he concluded outlines of an ambitious agenda for the future roadmap of the country’s progress.
Though some might suggest, based on Imran Khan’s exposition at a few intervals when he nears climax, that he was rather testosterone-laden, he steered clear of hurling insults or yelling against the opponents – the contemptible acts to be found abundantly among the PML-N ranks.
He stated that he will especially work extra-miles to ensure that they operate free of any sort of political influence.
Pakistan in a Crisis State
Even if we are not at a crossroads, as Imran Khan warned, it is by every means a critical time for the country.Outwardly, Pakistan is an imposing state, but inwardly, it boasts only a little amount of political liberty for its people. Its leaders and elite have little regard for the public and private virtues. Characterized by a general lack of economic prosperity and domestic stability, the extinction of political liberty in Pakistan is an ultimate prelude to inevitable degeneration of the society.
Read more: Pakistan’s ‘Tipping Point’
The majority of the people are poor. Though the country boasts a strong middle class, the general political atmosphere is entirely corrosive, so much so that the middle class has to offer, for the sake of its survival, its affiliation to one political party or the other.
More so, there is a general want of true sense of dignity and freedom among the youth. Resultantly, its youth is failing to become either a source of pride or of self-reliance. Being restrained everywhere and excluded from the policymaking process, the country’s youth is neither the most prolific nor the most useful.
Pakistan is facing a grave political crisis. People are more pessimistic towards their politicians. For them, politicians are always anger-filled; they are ignorant and spiteful. They lack intellect and never debate an issue, and whenever they do, it always descends into a session of spitball attacks. They never answer a question, however fundamental to the people’s progress and prosperity, rather their response is always the same: a kind of a theatrical performance – outrageous, aggressive and full of grandstanding.
If it was not for Imran Khan at the culmination of this year’s spring, the hostility between the people and the traditional political parties would have already broken open.
The self-serving politicians have driven the politics into a land of harsh terrain by a combination of oppression and misgovernment. In short, the politics has descended into something much worse than just being bad-tempered: it has become abusive.
Therefore, the people have stopped being ashamed of their politicians because they have stopped accepting them as one of their own. Their connection to the people is less and less recognized. With that having been said, there exists a deep hatred and distrust for the politicians, and that is the reason that the humiliation of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the US’ airport didn’t irk much ire among the people. The people have refused to own him as their Prime Minister. They don’t expect anything from him or his fellow-buffoons, therefore, the people are not disappointed.
There exists a severe leadership void. The elite’s ability to shape politics towards positive trajectory is severed. It is widely believed that the country’s elite is thoughtless, self-centred and deep-pocketed. Their greed and self-aggrandizement have emerged as the primary sources of challenges to the provisions of basic values to the society. Instead of ensuring the people’s rights, security and freedoms, the elite has become a drain on the country’s resources.
Even animals follow some codes, and even the jungle boasts some morality. Even so, they are still sunk deep under the enervating influence of self-centrism and ethics are the least of their concerns. No ethics. No codes. Only recklessness.
The heir to the party’s presidency is working harder than anyone else to neutralize the impact of the war machinery of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on the overall standing of the party.
The people are, therefore, gradually rising to the reality that they must stay focused on addressing the greater challenges, especially the challenges that lay within their country. It is because of this realization that the relation between the people and their politicians have grown increasingly fractious. If it was not for Imran Khan at the culmination of this year’s spring, the hostility between the people and the traditional political parties would have already broken open.
The PML-N – Cause of Regret
As for the PML-N, Shahbaz Sharif has taken over the command of the presidency. However, the role awarded to him is not a ceremonial one – A mere exhibition of power. As for the swing members of the PML-N, for all their arrogance, they are profoundly demoralized by the Panama gate scandal and the subsequent war of Nawaz Sharif on the country’s institutions, so much so that the party is uncharacteristically suffering from a deep crisis of confidence.
Shahbaz Sharif seems to be the biggest obstacle to the PML-N’s war policy, yet he has failed to change the dynamics. The heir to the party’s presidency is working harder than anyone else to neutralize the impact of the war machinery of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on the overall standing of the party. However, the PML-N is still focused on continuing its old politics. On that account, here arises one of the greatest challenges for Shahbaz Sharif: Maryam is not going to let him be the party’s nominee for premiership (in case the party wins, which is left to everyone’s guess).
The elevation of members of Maryam Nawaz’s camp into many key positions and the approaching of the general elections remind that the PML-N won’t be stepping down from its war of attrition against the PTI. However, here is a spoiler for the PML-N: since the PTI holds high moral ground and that, too, with being firm and united, it is not hard to predict that the PML-N, in the course of its confrontation is going to suffer a humiliating defeat.
As for Maryam, she hasn’t suffered enough, and she hasn’t learned enough, therefore, she is, yet, not smart enough. Shouldn’t we ponder, for a moment, at how many moves has she been able to win? As to this day, Nawaz Sharif, her father and once a powerful Prime Minister and a President of the once-most-powerful political party, has been suffering the consequences of being ousted on account of terrible mistakes that she led her father into. There lies a gulf between the times when she finally comes to realize that political struggle is not a form of house-of-cards; it’s about serving the people.
His nomination as the party’s co-Chairman has come about only because Benazir Bhutto, the party’s head and the country’s most iconic leader, died in an assassination attempt in December 2007.
Since 2013, the time when the PML-N government came to power, it has been hard to smell any sense. Their shortsightedness and low characterization of themselves really brought shame and shackles to the country. Even the sanctity of the Parliament and its floor has been abused to propagate disinformation and lies. Whether it’s about the country’s political, economic or cultural developments, the PML-N always deliberately stopped short of telling the truth to the nation.
The people saw it before their eyes that their institutions – one by one, from political to economic and businesses, they fell prey to the greed of the politicians. Gradually, they continue to become hapless victims of the system over which they no longer exercise any control or influence. During the general election of 2013, the PML-N rode to power at the slogan of bringing transformation, yet when they came to power they resisted the very changes they promised. It’s simple to understand: they are the product of a very corrupt system – hence they would go the extra-mile to preserve it.
The governance, under the PML-N rule, does not exactly present a model of success and prosperity: levels of economic disparities and domestic turbulence are high, and there is a general agreement among the people that wealth and welfare will not be achieved without change. Likewise, almost everything else is negative. Foreign debt, enlarged and strengthened by the reckless borrowing of the government, represents a greater threat than ever before, and the public opinion has shifted toward agitation and strongmen rule, raising the fears that their hard-won democracy might be rolled back to give way to the authoritative regime in Pakistan.
Furthermore, calls for reforms and more representation have been confronted, at every turn, by sheer ineptness and incompetence of federal and provincial governments. For now, the people’s confidence has been destroyed – the only purpose behind a PML-N or PPP victory would be the ultimate catastrophe for the dignity and integrity of the people, whose aspirations these predators would one day feed to their hungry subscribers.
Zardari – Disgracefully Isolated Figure
One of the most consistent and arguably influential opponents of Imran Khan and his policy of change is Asif Zardari, the former President of the country. Zardari occupies a shadowy but crucial position within the Pakistan Peoples Party’s leadership structure. At the national level, he is an isolated figure. His relations with the people are not warm. His nomination as the party’s co-Chairman has come about only because Benazir Bhutto, the party’s head and the country’s most iconic leader, died in an assassination attempt in December 2007.
During the general election of 2013, the PML-N rode to power at the slogan of bringing transformation, yet when they came to power they resisted the very changes they promised.
The memory of this gifted and prudent politician, Benazir Bhutto, doubtlessly overshadowed the people’s relationship with the opportunistic and uncharitable man, Zardari, who replaced her. To the people’s bad luck, his ascendance to the national politics happened to coincide with an era of growing insecurity and economic volatility across the country.
Aware of the vulnerability of the country’s resources and wealth, he unleashed a culture of corruption and decadence, hard to have any parallels in the country’s history. He has objectives of his own, of stockpiling more wealth and power, which openly conflict with the people’s interests. The nation is aware of the dangers he present and it is because of this growing awareness, there is such a low chance that the people might vote for him, to make him rise to the national government.
The PTI – Hope In The Darkness
The rise of the PTI as the mainstream political party has been an encouraging development after years of political suppression the people of the country have seen. The people have expressed confidence in the trajectory of the future roadmap of Imran Khan’s policies. They have spoken in favour of Imran Khan. They think of him as a leader who can heal the soul of the people, purify the machinery of government from the evils of corruption, fuel in it a renewed sense of freedom of conscience and turn it to the pursuit of ideals enshrined by the Quaid.
So, finally, Imran Khan came out to lay out a future roadmap for his administration’s governance policy. Arguably, he made a great speech. His analysis of the prevailing paradigms in the country’s domestic and international affairs was candid, profound, and appealing. Nevertheless, even he couldn’t hide his desperation as he presented a whole lot of ways to address the challenges. It is because of this exhilarating atmosphere, thanks to the untiring struggle of Imran Khan, that the current election year is running on hope and aspirations compared to the previous general elections.
Evaluating the points and prospects of the success of the agenda presented by Imran Khan, it is safe to argue that it is an ambitious and accomplished plan of action. However, all is not sweet and light in Imran Khan’s 11-point agenda, to be sure. For example, there is no mention of assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses, one of the key areas for any economy to develop.
In this marathon speech, reflecting on the country’s prevailing crisis and the potential the country offers, he concluded outlines of an ambitious agenda for the future roadmap of the country’s progress.
The most important feature of Imran Khan’s agenda is that it focuses primarily on building the country’s internal strengths. It clearly registers into policy, the ancient wisdom, that society’s role in its foreign affairs is primarily the function of its internal strength and capabilities. Without national well-being and defined national policies, no country can play an active role in the region and beyond.
Whether it’s about education, health or economy, it essentially underlines that the root causes of the country’s prevailing crisis are internal and that these originate mostly from the crisis of growth rather than the crisis of decay (to borrow from H W Steed’s words). The agenda at length acknowledge the important role that relatively a free, fair and effective administration can play. We can also discern a pragmatic respect for the demands of Saraikis for a separate province based on administrative criteria and also for the reforms in Fata.
With an appreciable level of boldness and clarity, the agenda embodies the people’s much-treasured aspiration that their government be administered wisely and honestly and that the justice must be awarded to every citizen, regardless of their authority or social position.
One will not be exaggerating, therefore, when stating that the PTI leadership understands how to treat different parts of the society and the political economy. Thus, they can achieve success that ultimately culminates in the welfare of the people and their country.
Imran Khan promised to bring improvement in the country’s institutional working. He stated that he will especially work extra-miles to ensure that they operate free of any sort of political influence. Now that the most damage has been done to the workings of state’s institutions, the people themselves have realized that they all need to agree on to elect Imran Khan, who possess the ability to reform institutions, which he has manifested and incorporated in the functioning of the KPK government.
Mudassir Saeed Laghari is a freelance columnist. He has contributed several pieces to various magazines, especially to Lahore-based Jahangir’s World Times. He also teaches international affairs and contemporary politics. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.