The last three-and-a-half years have all been about Khan, not about Pakistan. All the discussions have been about him – whether for or against him. They have been about “what Khan wants, what Khan eats, one day Khan will make Pakistan a superpower, Khan is alone, Khan needs time, Khan wants Presidential system, the captain is changing the batting order, Khan is happy, Khan is sad, Khan wants that particular DG ISI, Khan has raised the issue of Islamophobia, Khan was unaware as to when and how the dollar plunged, if anything bad happened-Khan had no idea, Khan is honest, Khan is incorruptible, Khan is fighting alone, Khan is not even capable of doing anything bad, the captain always has a plan, the Captain never gives up,” etc. What about Pakistan? A section of journalists have made every endeavour to put a gloss on every error made by Khan. And now he has become the first ever PM in the history of Pakistan to have been thrown out of office with a no-confidence motion in the parliament.
The opposition may have beaten the living daylights out of Khan but has also unwittingly given resurgence to his political life. While Khan was already growing unpopular in every quarter due to his obdurate way of governance, the impatience of the opposition has inadvertently made him appear to his supporters as the victim of an international conspiracy to dethrone him; a hero fighting a superpower. And this impatience has made him all the more attractive towards his followers in spite of being shamefully thrown out of office.
Although successful in ousting Khan, the opposition may have made their moves too early, which will inadvertently give Khan another shot at premiership in the next elections. A smart move by the opposition would have been to let Khan die his own death and let those who wanted to leave him do so of their own accord rather than incorporating them prematurely. It is possible that they ended up giving Khan a chance to blur the vision of people by propagating the idea of a so-called international conspiracy to oust him. After all, the elections were not so far away.
Thousands were seen demonstrating in different cities of Pakistan, showing their devotion to Imran Khan. Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan are being maligned in social media and TV. Even a man with a stature like Anwar Maqsood sarcastically called the judges ‘Sharif’ – the very same judges who declared the acts of Imran Khan and former Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri unconstitutional – in a video shared by his son Bilal Maqsood. Shireen Mazari tweeted on the day: “A judicial coup happened last night down to ordering how & even at what time NA session must be held, ending parliamentary supremacy! Sadly the issue of US attempt at regime change – the elephant in the room – which led to Dy Speaker ruling totally ignored. But this is not the end”
It would not be surprising to see these demonstrations spark a series of further ones, as there is but no doubt about the loyalty of his followers. They love him no matter what, period! Moreover, while the politics of PPP, PML-N and other parties is a bit old-fashioned, PTI in contrast to them uses the modern techniques of propaganda.
Merely showing a piece of paper before the crowd has become the mourning anthem for PTI lovers. Yet whatever one’s views on the truthfulness of a conspiracy, if any, the reality is that Khan has lost his government due to his own stubbornness and utter disregard for everything and everyone except himself. For him, it is all about him: if you are not his friend then you are definitely an enemy for him.
It is not a secret anymore that the US, being a superpower, conspires in weaker countries and nurtures its influence in different ways depending on the demography of the country it is dealing with. Now Khan is using the fact of US intervention in the Global South as a conspiracy theory to refresh his politics in the eyes of his supporters and is looking to garner more of them in the backdrop of an anti-American campaign.
Has the regime really been changed due to US intervention and conspiracy instead of PTI’s poor governance? Or is it just an invented excuse for the leftover supporters of Khan until the next election. Even if there is a conspiracy, would the US really write a letter, only to be discovered by the very person they may allegedly be involved in ousting? History tells us that those who conspire do not keep records. What would the US gain by removing Khan as the PM anyway? As they say, desperate situations require desperate measures. Khan is not left with anything else to fight with. His attempts to maintain power, that started with using religion as a safeguard to hide his own incompetence, are now replaced with using the sentiment of anti-Americanism as a tool to come back in power to “rid Pakistan of foreign influence.”
Pakistan is close to financial bankruptcy due to consistent compromising agreements made by PTI government to somehow keep the system running while putting in no efforts in reinventing the infrastructure of the system. The US would not have wished any less for Pakistan. Thus, the idea of a US intervention to oust Imran is stupefying to say the least.
And what of the Establishment’s being ‘neutral’? The fact is that the Establishment is never neutral, even its non-intervention is a sort of intervention. Whether the establishment has made up with Asif Ali Zardari or Nawaz Sharif is another issue, but one thing is very clear: that the establishment does not want Khan as the premier of this country any longer due to the damaging impact he has on affairs as a whole while the country’s economy is shrinking incessantly, threatening bankruptcy. The Establishment undoubtedly has not played any active role in the recent no-confidence motion against Khan in ousting or saving him. However, it is safe to say that the Establishment, with all its regrets, wants to let go of Khan.
Letting Khan go ought not to be perceived as a new venture with PML-N and PPP but as an act of desperation on the part of Establishment, as the experiment they longed for has failed terribly. The Establishment is merely allowing the pieces to get back together until it can embark on a new chain of adventures. It must also be kept in mind that the Establishment has no permanent enemies or friends.
The premature break between the Establishment and Khan, as well as the haste of the opposition in deposing him from office, might end up obfuscating the political sins of Khan, giving him another chance to dramatize his claims for the next elections by using his nuisance value. It has also saved him the trouble of trying to keep everyone happy in his party and the allies until the 2023 General Elections.
Having said that, Khan is also now vulnerable to scandals that put a dent in his heroic image for his followers: now that he is not the prime minister and his own are turning against him.
No matter how faithful the supporters of PTI might be to their leader, they alone cannot save Khan’s ship from sinking. The bad choices made by Khan in stubbornly retaining incompetent people on important positions will come back to haunt him – and are likely to serve as a cautionary tale for the Establishment to keep in mind when it decides whether to make up with him again or not.