The colorful extravaganza on the beats of DJ music, the infamous political rallies of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI ) have reverted to the pre-elections agitation. The smell of vengeance, a charged political atmosphere has gripped Pakistan following the removal of Khan as the prime minister with the Vote of No Confidence by the Parliament in the early hours of Sunday morning.
It refreshes my memories of a school time tale in which 130 children, sporting colorful clothes dancing to an enchanting tune, of medieval German town Hamelin followed the Piper out of town and vanished forever with no trace. The folklore of Pied Piper of Hamelin remains relevant even today. Emanating from the story in the poem ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’ published in 1842, the character Pied Piper refers to a charismatic leader with irresponsible promises and false hope, or the one who offers strong but delusive enticement. According to MacMillan dictionary, Pied is a person who is easy to follow but may not have the best intentions in the end or care about the wellbeing of his followers ultimately.
Pied was hired by the people of Hamelin to get rid of plague rats in town. Playing his magical pipe, Pied led the rats to a nearby river and drowned them. However, on the refusal to pay him for services, the irate Pied lured all the children of Hamelin and mesmerized them with his hypnotic tunes who followed Pied only to disappear forever. In another version of the folktale, Pied returned the children after a payment was made. The fact remains that Pied Piper acted more as an impulsive villain rather than a savior.
People who had lost hope in successive political regimes and disillusioned by the prevalent socio-political and soaring economic conditions elected Imran Khan. The PTI following mainly from among the 60 percent youth bulge of Pakistan’s almost 228,479,688 million population (with median age of 22.8 years) supported Khan. Charmed by his colorful disco blended rallies in hopes of a “change” in the country promised by the emerging leader who still walks with youthful aura of old cricket maestro days.
Generally, attracted by his charisma of being the top cricket star who brought Pakistan the 1992 World Cricket Cup, was elected for the hopes and delusion of creating ‘tabdeeli’ or change redeem in the promised “new Pakistan” that was the illusion Khan’s container mounted political sloganeering had painted. It might have attracted the ambitious yet ignorant youths during his political mobilization campaigns and beyond. PTI’s earlier success in ruling the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, this newer political force had been magnified to the national political scene with Imran Khan’s controversial victory in 2018 national elections. However, the tall irresponsible promises remained an illusion during the almost four years of his tenure.
PTIs political discourse appears totally disconnected to the geo-political realities, fantasizing an ideal political global environment that does not exist anywhere.
The PTI has unleashed youths of Pakistan whose general memory span is barely over two decades and does not go beyond late 90s and early 2000s. The PTI followers infamously known as “youthias” simply don’t know their “charismatic” leader Imran Khan’s own colorful past while they unethically flash around the personal lives of his far bigger opponent leadership. On the other hand, the ‘Insaafians’ who know the facts, conveniently ignore or dodge to recall Imran Khan’s past with controversial morality stigmas while digging out others’ closets for skeletons.
Unleashing the youth and mobilizing them with emotional sloganeering without any depth or understanding of the geo-political, geo-strategic and geo-economic dynamics in the contemporary international system, was a fatal mistake not only in the political arena but in the longer run for the country. PTIs political discourse appears totally disconnected to the geo-political realities, fantasizing an ideal political global environment that does not exist anywhere. In fact, contemporary global politics requires a mature outlook that helps in maximizing one’s gains with minimum losses. Whereas Khan is consistent, bickering had not only messed Pakistan’s foreign policy but also intensified internal securities sensitivities.
Historically, the fate of such political mobilization is short lived resulting in disillusionment and complete loss of faith in the political process. History is full of such instances where political parties raise the hopes of their supporters to the level where when unaccomplished, it transformed into rogue elements with no respect for established norms and the institutional process.
What was expected of Imran Khan also included political shrewdness to pursue his goals but on the contrary, he turned out to be so engrossed in self-righteousness that he thought of taking the nation on the path with unrealistic goals that brought it in direct conflict with reality. Khan has brought the nation to a confused state mainly by wrongly addressing the issue of identity. PTI has falsely anchored its discourse on anti-Americanism as an identity after failing to attract White House’s attention as he had desired. All that eulogized ideologue wrongly played when the nation already has a checkered history of dealing with identity issues.
Politics is the game of sober and well thought arguments where a shrewd opponent helps the political process. Unfortunately, the particular political process evolves of the discourse where PTI followers are more robotic in manner with an intoxicated zombie blind eye to other political perspectives.
Knowing that all their tricks have failed, PTI now resorts to street power exhibitions to create chaos and after being exposed it is inflaming violence. Sensing the imminent jeopardy amid the governance and political promises failures, the then sitting premier Khan hurled threats of violence if dislodged from power. Obsessed with retaining the citadel of power even for a single day, Khan put everything at stake even the national prestige by hiding behind an alleged controversy of a foreign conspiracy. He conveniently tried to walk over the sanctity of the Constitution in an unconstitutional and unpatriotic act as prime minister of the country and now in the streets the mesmerized followers and the leadership have not spared the national institutions hurling accusation in an unpatriotic and unconstitutional act.
Whether Hamelin children were able to return home or not, the question is how the unleashed politically radicalized youths or youthias and the enchanting PTI leadership can be bridle. Hence, the politics of charms aided by the shamanism of a controversial superstitious cult in Banigalla, the Khan’s resort in the suburbs of capital Islamabad, might not vanish. In fact, it is more evident that the offbeat delusive enticement would continue as a wrongly driven pressure group and continue to play as an Achilles heel in the national politics of Pakistan with odds in exploit klutzily on the national scenarios,
Syed Moazzam Hashmi is senior journalist, ac political analyst and instructor based in Islamabad.