By Raza Ruman
In Pakistan’s politics there seems to be one point in discission — Are you with Imran Khan or against him?
Dawn’s columnist Ashraf Jehangir Qazi aptly puts today’s politics in Pakistan. “PAKISTAN is imploding. The president and prime minister are at war. The judiciary is divided and the military is considering its options. The Election Commission of Pakistan challenges the Constitution and the Supreme Court. The prime minister of Pakistan attacks the chief justice of Pakistan. Government leaders threaten it’s either Imran or them. The doctrine of necessity is being revived by a caretaker government and its puppeteers pulling the strings,” he writes.
The power of the state has again been elevated against the law of the land. The final betrayal of Pakistan and its people is playing out. We will earn the contempt of being passive witnesses to the end of Pakistan, or we will save our children and grandchildren from losing their country.
I have every confidence the Supreme Court will refuse to countenance the harm being done to the country. It will protect the Constitution and ensure the victory of the rule of law over the law of the jungle. This just might pave the way for the rebirth of Pakistan as a country striving towards democracy, justice, prosperity, security and peace.
Meanwhile, the politics of the country has been reduced to whether we support or oppose Imran Khan. This may sound ridiculous; but our national situation has been reduced to the ridiculous. So much so that the climate catastrophe — which, according to the latest IPCC report, may become fatally irreversible by the early 2030s, especially in the region Pakistan is located — barely finds mention in our insane political discourse.
“We must find common ground on which to move forward. Can support for Imran Khan provide it? He is seen by many as an extremely polarising figure: U-turner, narcissist, populist, fascist, closet establishmentarian, religious hypocrite, antifeminist, dissembler, etc. Yet he bestrides the political scene in Pakistan like a colossus.
None of his opponents dare face him in a fair and internationally observed national election. Across the class structure, including the civil-military, rural-urban, provincial and ethnic divides, the relatively young of Pakistan still repose their hopes in him. Why?
The politics of the country has been reduced to whether we support or oppose Imran Khan,” Qazi says.
The younger and the poorer of Pakistan by and large contrast the alleged human frailties and foibles of Imran Khan with their perception of the cynicism and incorrigible corruption of his opponents. They see his enemies as their enemies. This renders him electorally unbeatable. His panic-stricken opponents are reduced to hoping his judicial or violent removal will enable the continuation of national betrayal in the guise of hybrid governance.
That is why an interim consensus of support for Imran Khan may be the most practical way forward. Those who believe in him should hold him accountable to his promises and their expectations.
Those who have much less faith in him should nevertheless acknowledge the fact that he has brought about an unprecedented awareness of elite betrayal. If he is, accordingly, elected with a ‘sufficient’ majority he should be (a) relatively free of ‘electable’ and ‘establishment’ constraints that ruined his first administration and (b) aware of the enormous burden of expectations and responsibility on his shoulders. He will either rise to the challenge or forever discredit himself.
“Imran Khan’s will to power has brought him to where he is. But to be more than a mountebank, he will have to reinvent himself to join the ranks of true leaders, nation builders and servants of the people.”
Wannabe leaders may have the courage of their egos but true leaders have the courage of their convictions. Imran now has to demonstrate he is a true leader and will never again be a dependent partner of the ‘establishment’. He knows what he owes himself, his trusting followers, the memory of his mother, and his country.
Take the great leaders of recent times: Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Quaid-i-Azam, Mahatma Gandhi, Abe Lincoln, FDR, Lenin, Churchill, de Gaulle, Mandela, Lee Kwan Yew, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, etc. What distinguished them? They saw themselves as serving a project much larger than themselves. They knew their actions and accomplishments would define them far more than their claims. They sought character, commitment, competence and sincerity in their comrades as much as loyalty. They also sought to learn as much from them as to inspire them. They held themselves up to extremely demanding standards. Do these qualities describe Imran Khan?
Political leadership also consists in sharing in the national sacrifices that national transformation policies require of the people. Leaders and rulers who avoid such sacrifices merely continue class warfare, as the tragedy of Pakistan demonstrates.
Moshe Dayan, when asked what he thought of the Egyptian army, answered: Fat generals and thin soldiers! Pakistan has had more than its fair share of ‘fat cat’ leaders and impoverished ‘thin followers’. During China’s Long March (which covered 6,000 kilometres of trekking, fighting and dying, not just a few hundred miles of car cavalcades and rallies) Mao shared the same food, clothing and facilities as the soldiers of his Eighth Route Army. Every people nation may not be blessed with a leader like Mao, but his example must forever be relevant for a nation and a people in crisis.
As for manifestos, action programmes, budgetary priorities and resource mobilisation strategies, the answers are accessible through reports, studies, analyses and expert advice. What needs to be done in the fields of nation-building, education, health, human rights protections, land reforms, defence expenditure reductions, taxation reforms, etc. are well known.
The development of an informed public opinion is an essential ingredient of radical national reconstruction to enable Pakistan to meet and overcome the existential challenges it faces.
Qazi says all of this will require nothing less than a comprehensive sociopolitical and economic revolution. But Imran Khan has compromised with the establishment before, and now says he will step aside if it has a programme. The only programme of the establishment is the status quo. But he seems willing to be co-opted again.
Nothing would be more anti-people. There are parties of the people and parties of the establishment. Unprincipled compromise will sink Imran and Pakistan.
Will a better sense prevail in the country’s politics.? PAK DESTINY