Some called it a circus, some referred to it as chaos, for the rest it was a democratic win. It does not matter what one named it, the political situation of the past few weeks raised many questions concerning the future of the country. A prime minister facing the vote of no confidence (VNC), who was adamant about not leaving the PM office through the VNC, the opposition that wanted it no other way, and the Supreme Court that had to decide nothing less than what was constitutionally right for the country… In all this chaos, the people of Pakistan stayed divided — but equally entertained.
Former Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif is now the 23rd prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and this is a reality the supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) are not willing to accept. For them, Imran Khan was and still is the epitome of leadership not only for Pakistan, but the Islamic world too. And that was the reason they bought the foreign conspiracy narrative the moment it was fed. The PTI supporters are angry, heartbroken, aggressive, frustrated, agitated, and ready to label anyone who is not on their side a traitor. And hence they are the ones manifesting and expressing their anger in the most anti-state ways that can literally and constitutionally land them in prison for years.
A video is circulating on social media where one PTI follower can be seen burning the national flag that is protected under section 123-B of the constitution and the violation of which can result in three-year imprisonment. On other hand, some overseas Pakistanis are seen setting ablaze their Pakistani passports. Many in the foreign countries have been chanting “no Imran Khan, no remittances”. They somehow find it their moral obligation to starve their families because now they have a different prime minister. It’s alarming how the ousting of Imran Khan has affected the mental health of thousands of Pakistanis inside and outside Pakistan alike. And it’s a blessing that many of them are not located in Pakistan or else it would have been done more damage to Pakistan than Corona did in two years.
They don’t even find it ironic that how a man whose biggest claim to fame after 1992 World Cup was that “Nobody knows the West more than he does” fell a victim to a Western conspiracy. That was the one thing he knew the best and if he couldn’t escape that what else is there to expect.
Not only about the international conspirators but the PTI followers seem to have a clear idea about the local facilitators in removing Khan and to whose orders the otherwise spineless opposition was acting upon. The PTI supporters raised many slogans against the army chief at their recently held rallies, some of which were endorsed and retweeted by the PTI leadership. The irony of the situation is that when in power the PTI government faced the same criticism from the opposition for being a selected government that had the blessings of Khalai Makhlooq, and now by calling Shehbaz Sharif “Cherry Blossom”, Khan is trying to shift the narrative. Astonishing is the audacity and so are the tactics.
The populist tendencies of Khan’s leadership have never been more evident before than now. From circumnavigating the constitutional processes, questioning, and targeting constitutional structures, creating binaries among the masses as outsiders and insiders, Imran Khan seems to have checked all the boxes of a populist leader. Moreover, the tone and the political discourse that Khan has introduced in Pakistani politics are unprecedented. In addressing his opponents as “Oye Nawaz”, “Oye Zardari”, to mocking them and using rather a crass language, Khan has formulated an uncouth cult following who are neither ready to listen to any argument nor they have one to offer.
They don’t even find it ironic that how a man whose biggest claim to fame after 1992 World Cup was that “Nobody knows the West more than he does” fell a victim to a (self-inflicted) Western conspiracy. That was the one thing he knew the best and if he couldn’t escape that what else is there to expect.
The author holds a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. Twitter: @maidaFarid_