Imran Khan made it to the Time Magazine cover story in April this year. April of last year however, the situation was quite different, but Khan was still in the news for all the wrong reasons. The article accompanying the cover story also included fairly balanced analysis for the most part. It was based on an interview of Mr. Khan which was conducted by Charles Campbell, who had done a fairly good job delving into the former prime minister’s thoughts.
Soon after his ouster, which was exercised democratically through constitutional means, Khan remains in the news cycle both here in Pakistan and abroad. A good chunk of media airtime in neighboring India is also consumed by news either related to Imran Khan.
The former Prime Minister is somewhat of a loose cannon; his statements are ambiguous and rife with incorrect facts and misperceptions. He has a knack for being awfully boisterous when speaking to foreign media, still consumed by visions of being the foreign press’ darling. Former US President Donald Trump had a similar deportment, and it is not hard to imagine how 4 years of Trump damaged America’s reputation abroad. The Biden administration is still trying to repair the damage caused by Trump’s unorthodox ways of governance.
If a superpower is struggling to hold onto its hegemony after 4 years of a populist president, imagine where a country like Pakistan stands. No one is ready to trust our politicians and even our establishment anymore. Given the unprecedented turbulence in Pakistan’s political situation, even multilateral financial assistance institutions are reluctant to get into any long-term agreements with Pakistan.
Pakistan has to put its house in order first, in order to win the international community’s trust back. Here is another example of how twisted the narrative is, even when there is no military rule in Pakistan. The one sentence which stood out to this reader and perhaps to many others when reading the Time Magazine piece was when Khan claimed that ‘it was the military’s unwillingness to go after Pakistan’s influential two families.’
To go after corrupt elements in any democratic country should be the job of civilian law enforcement institutions, the anti-corruption establishment and other federal authorities, coupled with the judiciary to ensure justice is provided to all sides. In no way, shape or form should the military should be involved. It is advisable to all political leaders that they should start to drift away from the establishment, and the first step should be to avoid mentioning them in purely political narrative formations.
To put things in perspective, one need not look further than the United States, a supposedly mature democracy. Former US President Trump was arraigned last month, and the US military has nothing to do with this development, as a party, as a force or in any other capacity.
Here in Pakistan however, Imran Khan was arrested in a case over alleged corruption and his party’s supporters started destroying armed forces’ buildings, some sensitive facilities, memorable monuments and military officer’s residences. This is unprecedented in this country of 75 years of age. Many attributed this violent unrest as the start of a revolution. It is not only difficult but impossible to agree with this notion because these violent protests had a one point agenda: release Imran Khan. Revolutions require more than that. They require an alternate narrative for how a country ought to be governed, not simply an outpouring of discontent.
If we claim to be a democracy, we should start to behave like one. Imran had three and a half years in power and his government did not go after any of the ‘influential families’ he is now blaming the military for favoring. Dealing with corruption should be the job of a civilian government, and Khan can try again if he wins in the next elections. Until then, the best approach is to agree on a date for countrywide elections and embark upon election campaigns. We need stability today, as we can never come back from the bottomless pit we are heading towards – with no political sense or solution in sight.
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