Imran Khan has finally announced his much-awaited long march that is supposedly to bring the federal government down. But his latest u-turn is mind boggling as he views this march as an entertaining event. Given his confusing statement, it seems that the PTI is not clear about what this march will transpire into? Though it is not clear what would be the repercussions of this march for the political turmoil of the country, what is obvious is that it will mess up November and become a hurdle in the appointment of the new army chief.
The announcement of Khan’s long march has ended the speculations that the PTI has cut a deal with the power corridors of the country. While the power corridors are insistent on staying neutral, Khan has become desperate and suicidal for he does not believe in his popularity but on the establishment that is the most powerful stakeholder in the country. He is confused that despite having been on roads organising protests for more than six months, the establishment has not budged from its consistent position.
It seems the promise of neutrality by the establishment from politics has informed Khan that he willd not be able to bring the establishment under pressure that is why he is going to create a mess in November, which is the most important month as a big appointment is due.
It is important to mention the fact that it is the same establishment that is assumed to have supported Khan, brought down Nawaz Sharif’s government and rigged the elections of 2018 to install what is referred to as a hybrid regime in the hope that Khan would serve the country and bring people out of poverty and so on. On the contrary, Khan messed up the economy of the country, borrowed huge loans and offended all those countries who had been bailing out Pakistan. Khan became personal with Modi, Biden and so many other actors with his immature rants. As a result, Pakistan had become isolated in the international arena – which was something unacceptable for the establishment of Pakistan because it knew that this country and its economy could not survive isolation.
Amid all this, the establishment didn’t have any option but to opt out of politics as supporting Khan was not in the country’s interest.
Besides, not only did Khan mess up the foreign relations of the country, he disrupted the domestic politics of the country and led the country to a political crisis. Making himself a messiah, he put all opposition into jail on fabricated charges, making a mockery of the justice system of Pakistan. He derailed democracy, made parliament dysfunctional and most importantly he violated the constitution of Pakistan by trying to discard the vote of no confidence despite court orders. Not only did he make himself a controversial figure but also made a mockery of the establishment with his one-page narrative.
However, all of it was untenable as the hybrid system could not be held for a longer run that is why the establishment has abandoned Khan and become neutral. Since then, Khan has been attacking it. Nevertheless, it is a big lesson for our establishment that creating a Frankenstein is easy, controlling it is difficult. Given the announcement of this march, it is time to see whether Khan becomes able to convince the establishment to once again support him or not. So far, evidence points to the contrary.
Up until now, Khan has not left any stone unturned. Form foreign conspiracy to the Shehbaz Gill detention to Azam Swati’s attempt to malign the establishment in the corruption charges of Sharif family, Khan is now trying to use the untimely murder of Arshad Sharif to his political benefit. He is trying to malign the establishment by insinuating that the murder of Arshad Sharif was politically motivated.
Khan is simply playing with the emotional masses of this country against its institutions by portraying different events to back up his anti-establishment narrative. To rise the political temperature, he has eventually announced a long March. He is doing all this to bring the power corridors in his favour. But will the establishment come under pressure and bow before Khan?
Khan is giving the impression that agencies are involved in everything in Pakistan from politics to the killing of people. Simply speaking, he is hell-bent on bringing one institution against the other while also trying to cut a deal with the establishment. Given this hypocritical conundrum, it is can be said that Machiavellian politics is being adopted to his ends. But such machinations would not produce results as political propaganda could not be helpful for a longer run. It would be exposed sooner rather than later.
Also, Khan’s speaks against the establishment more than the government of the PDM. He is frustrated at being a pariah in the political system of Pakistan. Though a lot of young people have become prey to his fake narrative of foreign conspiracy, he is not at all satisfied as he has failed to turn the power corridors to his side. Given these examples, it can be inferred that though Khan has tried his best to engage the power corridors using different people from President Arif Alvi to Asad Umar to many others, he has failed to cut a deal, meaning thereby that the promised neutrality is genuine.
With the failure of every effort, Khan has finally announced his long march as he has sensed that elections are not going to happen sooner and he may not be able to appoint the next Chief of Army. Despite Khan attacking the establishment for reaching to a point of no return, nothing has changed as his demands are illegal because it is the constitutional duty of the prime minister to appoint a new chief of army and to call next elections. More importantly, this appointment cannot be derailed for it is very sensitive and that too for petty politics.
Conclusively, amid Khan’s wrangling with the establishment, it can be said that this long March would not bring any abrupt change in Pakistan as the institutions have decided to stay neutral despite unprecedented and unfair criticism. The government has also prepared itself for Khan’s March as Rana Sanaullah has indicated it several times. Given all power centers at one side, it seems it will be a massive flop show for Khan so long as political results are concerned. Therefore, Khan should go to parliament to settle political scores with the government.
Imran’s narrative building has a modus operandi and now everyone including establishment has begun to see through him. His narratives are opportunistic rather then based on facts or truths. He believes in the populist method that when an opportunity presents itself dial it up as a conspiracy as generally public is gullible and followers would believe it anyway that if he is saying it repeatedly then there must be a grain of truth in it.
He used to be just an agitating politician complaining about poll rigging a reason for his failure at polls 2013 performance but 35 puncture narrative based on an intercepted phone call and 4 constituencies review demand was his first attempt at Pinocchio narrative building and it was partially successful; but it was not until he had unprecedented success in Panama politics when other institutions joined in to own him as an asset for its vested interests and he has said it many times that he is delightfully shocked that how PMLN failed to counter it and NS got entangled in it.
Now we have seen cypher narrative and many others to regain popularity. Arshad Sharif’s death conspiracy has now been given the same treatment by using vague language to insinuate the institutional role in it to whip up frenzy for long march success. You can fool some people some of the times, but you can’t fool everyone all the time. Or can he?