Don't blame Imran Khan for your own mistakes!
Imran Khan seems to have become a lightning rod for mass criticism. Aisha Ghumman’s recent blog is yet another addition to an already overflowing list of complaints against Imran Khan. In a nutshell, she questions his promises spouted during the May 2013 elections, labels him and his tactics a failure, and demands his resignation from the party.
Ironically, it is the attitude of the author and not that of Imran Khan which is more reflective of why we have refused to see meaningful political change in the country.
Students of philosophy and Greek mythology are familiar with Sisyphus. He was a king but his actions led him to be condemned and his punishment was to roll a boulder up a hill. Sisyphus would struggle to push the boulder up and even manage to reach the top but just as he reached the peak, the weight of the boulder would make it roll down the hill again.
Sisyphus would then trudge down and start anew, oblivious to the fact that he was destined to carry out this meaningless task forever.
In the months preceding the elections, Imran Khan was just like King Sisyphus. He could do no wrong. He was the saviour of the nation; he was the change. His was the face that compelled hundreds of thousands of voters to vote – those voters who would not have cared otherwise about the elections. His party became mainstream contenders not on the basis of their manifesto or their campaign promises, but because of the hope they instilled and the excitement they inspired across all economic classes.
Hence, Imran Khan, with his followers staunchly behind him, started rolling the boulder up the hill.
However, the newly attracted voter base made a fatal mistake when it stopped questioning his promises and began to believe blindly in him.
Surely, this man who was pushing a boulder up a steep incline alone, could do no wrong?
It was this belief that galvanised Imran Khan.
His campaign became oratory and reactionary. His promises of tabdeeli (change) became alarmingly frequent. His rhetoric fuelled the passion of his supporters and consequently, encouraged him to use more and more buzzwords, which in turn attracted even more supporters.
The boulder was now almost at the peak and Imran Khan, just like Sisyphus, could taste freedom.
Only a few people from the general public were able to recognise Imran Khan’s campaign for what it was – a self-delusional cycle that would eventually burst. For the majority, the campaign continued to be a growing frenzy that would undo years of nepotism, despotism and bureaucratic mudslinging.
However, it was not to be.
Just like Sisyphus’s boulder rolled down due to its weight, the expectations and actions of Imran Khan’s supporters, not Imran Khan himself, crushed the PTI campaign.
Albert Camus – a French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist and philosopher – explained Sisyphus’s tragic and repeated defeat quite eloquently. What must Sisyphus have thought as he made his way to the bottom after being so close to liberation?
Unfortunately, I am not sure if Camus would have managed to do the same for Imran Khan and his supporters.
As a result of his political novice, Imran Khan’s actions should not only have been expected but should be perfectly acceptable. His conduct may have been immature but he is not insincere. His role as an opposition minister limited his choices.
If the government pursues silence on drones, he must raise his voice against them regardless of his own personal views. If the government reveals an uncertain stance against the Taliban, he must advocate for peace because the immediate response to a violent action against the militants would be devastation in Imran Khan’s province. At the end of the day, Imran Khan is as bound by ethnic loyalty as the next person.
Yes, he promised a change in 90 days, but that was not to be taken seriously considering the years of damage he and his party were faced with. The claim of his critics that PTI has ‘failed to deliver’ is baseless because they have only been in office for less than six months.
Problems like lack of security, unemployment, poverty, insufficient equal opportunity, a weak law and order system, can take a generation to be overhauled and fixed; not months or years.
Instead of demanding resignations from our leaders because of their failure to keep unrealistic promises, we must first look at ourselves.
Why did we believe what was so obviously only rhetoric?
Should the rationale ‘let us vote for a new person because everyone else has had a chance’ really sway our vote?
If the promises have not been kept, what are the limitations which prevented the party from doing so?
Are they political and therefore, understandable?
Are they personal and therefore, unacceptable?
Are they institutional and therefore, explainable?
We cannot analyse Imran Khan or PTI without contextualising their position and actions.
All too often, we question our leaders but forget that our leaders come from among us. Hence, in order to change our leaders, we must first change ourselves.