APS parents give Imran Khan a kick in the right direction
One must feel some level of joy when people finally start seeing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for the hypocritical party it is, and start seeing Imran Khan as the megalomaniac he always was, but that feeling of joy soon evolves into disgust instantaneously after one is reminded of what happened outside the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar today.
If you haven’t been following the news or your social media feeds, parents of the martyred APS students protested outside APS today, and delayed Imran’s arrival at the school. He was accompanied by his wife, Reham Khan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chief minister, Pervez Khattak, and K-P information minister, Mushtaq Ghani. He had come to pay tribute to martyrs and spend time with the returning students.
First of all, without a doubt, the protesting parents are justified in questioning Imran’s decision to get married. It was extremely insensitive of him to do it so soon after the Peshawar school attack. One could argue that it is his personal life and was a personal decision but the truth of the matter is that with public figures, and especially those with Imran’s magnitude, the lines between personal and public matters become very much blurred. How our media and people celebrated his union is a testament to that fact and also reemphasises how his nuptials should have been postponed for a later date.
Second, let’s call a spade a spade; this trip to APS by the Khans was purely a PR stunt in response to COAS Raheel Sharif welcoming students back to school day before yesterday with both federal and provincial governments missing. Imran went as far as saying that he had planned on doing it as well, but wasn’t able to due to the COAS being there.
Third, it was disgusting how PTI’s members, supporters and the official Twitter account discredited parents and protestors outside APS by calling them politically motivated. Gilani went as far as blaming the federal government for sabotaging Imran’s visit. The police present even manhandled parents while attempting to get Imran inside APS. Later, photos of children taking Imran’s autographs and stories of how they chanted “Go Nawaz Go” were circulated to propagate the ‘true’ reception of Imran’s visit.
Sad incident in front of APS. We can understand reaction of grieving parents. Media shud highlight inside images also pic.twitter.com/kQeADFgtFJ— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) January 14, 2015
PTI strongly condemns the childish act by federal PMLN led govt to sabotage today's @ImranKhanPTI visit to Peshawar, says Mushtaq Ghani— PTI (@PTIofficial) January 14, 2015
Words cannot describe all that is wrong here. PTI’s reaction to this protest should have been compassionate and that of empathy rather than going on the offensive against grieving parents and loved ones.
It was also interesting how the party and supporters criticised the media for covering the protest outside and ignoring the reception inside the school. One must wonder how PTI felt about the media when their four-month-long protest was given live coverage.
Fourth, speaking of protests, it is astonishing how PTI itself has dealt with people protesting in K-P recently, especially after they themselves protested for a significant chunk of their rule in Islamabad. It seems that a precedent they set has now come back to haunt them.
To conclude, it is time for Imran and his confidants to take a step back and reprioritise their political agenda. The election rigging issue is important, no doubt, but is it as important as countering terrorism?
Imran himself, during multiple press conferences, has spoken about the shortfalls of K-P police and how they do not even possess tools to gather intelligence and investigate; should time not be invested in providing these tools to them and improving K-P’s security apparatus rather than continuing jabs at the federal government?
PTI has failed K-P and that is the truth. A testament to that was how Khattak was still on stage on the container the night the protest was called off, even after the Peshawar attack took place. The only thing on PTI’s agenda right now should be K-P and the security of their constituents. Nothing else will matter if our children continue to die and our parents continue to mourn.