By Kiran Bokhari
After paid PML-N columnists in other media, Dawn’s columnist Aasim Sajjad Akhtar joins their ranks and called Imran Khan ‘agent of establishment’.
Akhtar writes “Imran can call it what he wants, but the PTI chief’s decision to call off his party’s planned siege of the federal capital at the last minute confirmed just how little autonomy he actually exercises vis-à-vis the real arbiters of Pakistani politics. The latest episode only reinforces the perception that Mr Khan is but a ‘puppet’ in the hands of the establishment, the modus operandi of which is to use political actors against one another so as to ensure that it retains ultimate authority over the decisions that matter.”
He said: “The leader of the opposition took it a bit too far when he said that Mr Khan’s shenanigans actually empower Nawaz Sharif; in fact the manner in which the PML-N and the PTI have gone at it over the past few years has empowered the men in khaki no end. That Imran Khan has not yet achieved his goal — to evict Nawaz Sharif from the PM house and occupy it himself — is a reflection only of the fact that our uniformed guardians have till now had no reason to upend the apple cart. In short, the system, as dysfunctional and conflict-ridden as it appears, is ultimately unaffected by the PML (N)-PTI sparring.”
Akhtar further writes “On the surface there would appear to be few parallels between the power struggle currently ongoing in this country, and the soon-to-culminate battle for the world’s most powerful political office. In fact, both offer an indication of just how hegemonic the dominant political-economic order has become.
“Make no mistake: the system is not immune to shocks, and serious ones at that. But it survives regardless. Indeed, it might even be argued that the manner in which the TV media in particular amplifies relatively meaningless political bickering serves the system – and its primary beneficiaries – quite well. The combination of a dominant security establishment, more-loyal-than-the-king political actors, a state ideology that is generally considered a sacred cow, the religious right, foreign powers playing out the Great Game, and various smaller players in the realm of everyday state and market surely makes for a lot of contingency. But this contingency aside, real structural questions are always swept under the carpet, and so the ebbs and flows never translate into systemic shifts.”
One critic writes on Akhtar’s assumption — Unfortunately, both in the US and Pakistan, fizz sells! Imran Khan and Trump are selling fizz and it is impossible to do this minus TV. Trmp is a master of acting for TV as was clear in his performances on nightly TV for years. Imran too believes that when you have no substantive programme to offer, grab TV time for right or wrong reasons and this will stick with the people. He has done nothing but grandstanding. for all his faults, Sharif has at least worked to stabilize the economy and comes across as a reasonable man and a leader.
Another critic says “Now Khan ‘is a puppet of the establishment’ – allegedly. So is Qadri, so is PSP, so is Muslim League Q, so was Nawaz once. Conspiracy theories galore whilst the establishment clearly says they are not behind any party. If anything, the establishment has been supporting the government as clearly recent agitation shows!
And how Khan “could endanger the democratic system” now that he has left it to Supreme Court? Your two points of view contradict each other!” – Pak Destiny