Imran Khan the leader of the cult of PTI has managed to convince his fanatic followers that he is the true messiah, and that he is the only one who can solve the problems of this country. Very conveniently, he has forgotten the fact that it is the incompetence, bad governance and sheer arrogance of his style of leadership that has brought the country to the present difficult conditions. He rode into the corridors of power on the shoulders of the powerful military establishment, and with the help and support of the religious extremists.
Before his dubious victory in the 2018 elections, he made some tall claims and campaign promises. His biggest claim was that the PTI has the financial brains capable of solving all our financial problems. He kept shouting from the rooftops that his finance wizards know all about the troubles of the country and that only he has the required team to solve our problems, whereas all the other political leaders are thieves, looters and members of the corrupt mafia bent on loot and plunder. According to Mr. Khan, he is the only honest leader in the country and all others are thieves and dacoits.
His sales pitch proved very effective and most people, particularly the middle class and the educated youth, firmly believed that under his leadership the country will enter a phase of economic development and prosperity. It was accepted by his voters that he is capable of lifting the poor masses out of poverty, provide decent health care and housing facilities to the homeless and starving people of this country.
The first phase of his mismanagement began with maligning and exposing the misdeeds of the previous rulers, especially the Sharif Brothers and their offspring. The luxurious lifestyle of the Sharif family was projected on the media and the five-star facilities of the Prime Minister house were recorded and splashed across TV screens and in the newspapers and magazines. Bathrooms and kitchens became the subject of videos recorded and beamed into the homes of Pakistanis to show the extravagant and luxurious style of living of the former rulers. All this media campaign was successful in convincing the people that the new rulers had adopted a very simple lifestyle. Many luxurious cars were auctioned off and it was repeatedly assured by the PTI spin doctors that the Riasat-i-Madinah will be based on simplicity, honesty and justice for all. The dreams of the PTI believers were shattered when the loudly proclaimed economic drive of the PTI government failed to deliver the desired results. The new finance minister or the opening batsman of Team Imran appeared to be totally ignorant about the economic woes facing the country. He just failed to come up with an economic program and even refused to seek help from the IMF.
The sheer incompetence of the PTI’s finance managers resulted in a serious economic crisis and led to the present state of affairs that the nation is faced with. Eventually the PTI had to turn to an old PPP hand to head their finance team, despite the fact that Imran Khan and the PPP leaders are at daggers drawn all the time. The new finance guru Hafeez Sheikh failed to turn the economy around, and the economy continued to slide during his term of office. Sheikh was soon booted out and now it was the turn of Shaukat Tareen and Hammad Sheikh, but they, too, failed miserably to achieve the desired results. The bad governance and incompetence of the PTI resulted in a rise in inflation, widening current account deficit and rising foreign and local debts.
The daily helicopter trips of the PM from Bani Gala to the PM’s Office became the butt of jokes in the media when Fawad Chaudhry made the ridiculous claim that each trip cost less than one hundred rupees. The claim of accountability and a clean administration proved totally false in the face of the scandals such as the Peshawar Metro bus project, Mallam Jaba and the Ring Road. Stories about the famous friend of the first lady Farah Gogi and her doings dented the reputation of the PTI leaders and the Tosha Khana case was the last nail in the coffin of claims of honesty and a clean leadership.
After his ouster from power, Mr. Khan now claims that Pakistan was a land of milk and honey during his time. All his ministers were dead honest and there was no corruption anywhere in the country. The national economy was growing exponentially, and it was a foreign conspiracy that got him out of power otherwise the country would have been an Asian Tiger by now. In the opinion of experienced politicians, Imran Khan knows nothing about politics and he is just a novice in the game of national politics. But surprisingly, he has proved to be the most astute and Machiavellian leader this country has ever seen. He makes use of the religion card and anti-American rhetoric, makes use of religious connotations and he knows exactly what his voters want to hear. In fact, he has managed to play to the galleries beautifully. Anybody who takes Imran Khan for an ignorant politician need to rethink their assessment and opinion.
He has welcomed into the PTI fold the son and a grandson of two past dictators, that is Ijaz-ul-Haq son of General Zia-ul-Haq and Omar Ayub grandson of General Ayub. But the mesmerism of his cult is such that his followers dare not question his very tall claims of belief in democracy and being antiestablishment. Imran Khan’s admiration and support of the brutal extremist party of the Taliban is an open secret. The Taliban have let loose a reign of terror in Afghanistan, denied education to women, violated the charter of human rights and even stepped up their deadly assault on Pakistan, but no follower of Mr. Khan has the guts to question this policy of their leader.
Anybody – including this scribe – is discredited, abused, maligned and threatened if they dare to criticise any move or action of the great Khan of the PTI. Mr. Khan makes use of his street power and even during court attendance he takes a mob of unruly fanatics to intimidate the judges hearing his case. He has managed to create a narrative of political victimisation by showing off empty tear gas shells to the international media. His falsely concocted conspiracy theory backed by the USA and his rants against his former benefactor and mentor General Bajwa have been successful in increasing his popularity and enthusiastic following.
Excellent analysis as always, sir. Wishing you all the best !