An overwhelming victory in the July 17 by-elections in Punjab has infused a renewed vigour in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) narrative. The party that was a political pariah a few months ago stands victorious today. Even some progressive voices have capitulated to the wave of popular public sentiment on the basis just causes — for example, “At least the victory of the PTI reflects an anti-establishment stance of the public”.
This is nothing short of an ill-wished appeasement towards the narrative of an avowed enemy of democracy, freedom and reason. Those celebrating the victory of the PTI today on the grounds of civilian supremacy or democracy will be less than pleased if Imran Khan manages to get his way.
It all started with the wave of a letter, an alleged foreign conspiracy by the US to topple Imran Khan’s government because he cozied up with Russia by making a deal for cheaper fuel and food supplies. This narrative is one of the biggest lies peddled to the Pakistani public in its entire history. No set of independent eyes has seen the letter.
Professor Noam Chomsky is known to the world as one of the most distinguished and ferocious critics of US imperialism. In April, Chomsky rubbished the claims of Imran Khan’s foreign conspiracy because they lacked “substantial evidence”. It would be safe to conclude that the story is pure propaganda.
Just to put the headstone on the grave, Russia’s ambassador Danila Ganich completely denied Imran Khan’s claims that Russia struck a deal for cheaper wheat and oil. Yet, the lie was repeated at every political gathering, on every poster, every advertisement and everywhere it can possibly be communicated. Now, the question is: can any movement or ideology based on maiming the categorical imperative with such disdain produce just outcomes?
The recent victory of Imran Khan’s PTI is not a win for progressive forces but an emergence of a leviathan. To give in to popular pressure and somehow try and find worthwhile reasons to brand Imran Khan as a progressive rebel would be nothing short of intellectual treason at this point.
One must give due credit to Imran Khan for always keeping the supply of material to be used in arguments against him fresh and flowing – like, “Only animals are neutral”. Also, it is an open secret that Imran Khan extensively relied on unconstitutional military help in the 2018 elections to get into power. In real terms, it’s not about the civilian supremacy but about the Imran-supremacy.
Speaking of progressive struggles, Imran Khan’s track record on freedom of speech, media and other core issues warrant a review as well. His era has been termed as one of the “darkest period for media” in Pakistan. Dissident journalists were killed, kidnapped, beaten, and taken off air during his tenure. He revamped the entire education system in line with his personal ideological inclinations via the Single National Curriculum. A downward trajectory continued on major social issues like birth control under his purview.
In a country that is already second worst in the world for women, Imran Khan as prime minister said in response to a question about the “rape epidemic” that when women wear “very few clothes” men are impacted “unless they are robots”. It will hardly be an exaggeration to claim that Imran Khan did more damage than anyone to Pakistan’s social fabric since the tyrannical dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq.
The recent victory of Imran Khan’s PTI is not a win for progressive forces but an emergence of a leviathan. To give in to popular pressure and somehow try and find worthwhile reasons to brand Imran Khan as a progressive rebel would be nothing short of intellectual treason at this point. Imran Khan stands shamelessly in blatant opposition to everything progressive.