And as fate would have it, Pakistan has yet again experienced a shuffle in the parliament. The elected (or selected), that labelling was irrelevant to begin with — considering the strings of power have always been tugged from the same singular source – the government violated the constitution to cling to power, and isn’t pulling any stops post his ouster either. Once the capital fell, Punjab followed soon after.
And so, the cat and mouse game continued: out with an obnoxious, incompetent government and in with largely self-serving political dynasties.
While what has unfolded in Pakistan’s political landscape in the past few weeks could hardly be written off as a rare incident in the country’s politics – no democratic prime minister has ever completed their term in the highest office – amidst all the accusation-hurling, finger-pointing, physical squabbling, lota-chucking, conspiracy-hatching kerfuffle, something peculiar has transpired: former premier Imran Khan now unwittingly finds himself in a unique position in Pakistan’s tumultuous political history that no politician before him has occupied.
To no one’s surprise, Imran Khan rose to power having found favour with the all-powerful establishment. If history is anything to go by, that relationship was always destined for doom – not unlike what the PML-N and PPP governments experienced when they fell out of favour with the powerbrokers.
With the fanaticism the former premier has inspired during his political career, his followers were always expected to go after the opposition no holds barred with pitchforks drawn once their leader failed the confidence vote. However, what ensued in its wake was unprecedented. In a first, loyalists of a political party launched an all-out verbal assault on the same kingmakers that ensured their ascension to power all without batting an eyelid.
And that’s where things take a sharp turn.
Prime Minister or not, rightly or wrongly, Imran Khan has amassed street cred with masses hailing from all walks of life belonging to all parts of the country. That, coupled with hero worship he commands from overseas Pakistanis, lends him unprecedented firepower that he can wield to substantially damage the establishment that has previously stopped the likes of PML-N and PPP.
That, in the eyes of Khan’s followers, essentially creates a David vs. Goliath situation of their leader battling a multi-headed hydra, taking on corrupt political dynasties on one hand and a pro-West establishment with its own vested interests on the other.
The kind of defiance the establishment now faces – especially considering that it’s coming from rabid cultists both foreign and domestic – was previously unheard of. Hashtags previously considered taboo have lately trended fervently, demanding resignation from key personnel in the establishment. Aggressive calls to probe into maneuvers it has orchestrated previously are being heard.
True to his pre-2018 election form, Khan is once again criticizing the US government’s meddling in world politics. Spinning fiction into fact and selling it to his zealous fan base won’t pose much of a challenge here for him as the US has a longstanding history of directly or indirectly intervening in world politics with some of those direct interventions copiously documented.
With history not on their side, whether the US government intervened in Pakistan’s current political dynamic is beside the point. Any close call can be spun into an obvious case relatively easily by Khan, and his followers will blindly follow the will of their leader. That, in the eyes of Khan’s followers, essentially creates a David vs. Goliath situation of their leader battling a multi-headed hydra, taking on corrupt political dynasties on one hand and a pro-West establishment with its own vested interests on the other. That is great optics for a leader who took a shocking hard-right stance on national issues, despite his secular past indicating otherwise, and raised voice against Islamophobia to please his Islamist followers, who will not stop at anything till their saviour has triumphed against all odds.
Ironically, that fervour is something the establishment is all too familiar with They have been guilty of instilling it into others with the same zeal that now haunts them as its original perpetrators. This course correction now poses a great risk to the establishment’s intricate machinery that has previously functioned like a well-oiled apparatus looking after its own vested interests and agendas. Stay on course, and Imran Khan could continue fanning flames of a foreign conspiracy that removed him to gain nationwide support and, in the process, rid the country of a prolonged illness that has sat at its epicenter since inception.
Early signs of the establishment’s panic are already starting to show: the pressers are shaky and unconfident, hinting at a bad cover-up job; the message of neutrality is being propagated which is an admission of previous meddling. There is a poison spreading across the body and it’s about time it kills the cancer cells that made it frail in the first place.