If Imran Khan is disqualified…

Published: October 1, 2017
PTI Chairman Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE

PTI Chairman Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE

PTI Chairman Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE The writer is Executive Director News, Express News, and Executive Editor of The Express Tribune. 
He tweets @fahdhusain. 

The case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Supreme Court regarding the purchase of his Bani Gala estate is slowly advancing towards a conclusion. As the situation stands now, Imran Khan’s legal team is struggling to justify and explain the money trail in the purchase of the sprawling hill-top estate. There is this annoying amount of £100,000 that somehow hasn’t left a paper trail so necessary to explain its presence — or absence. There may yet be a twist in the tale but the eventuality of the honourable judges ruling against the PTI supremo remains real.

In other words, Imran Khan could be disqualified as a member of the National Assembly, and perhaps barred from contesting the 2018 elections. What then? Here goes:

1. If PTI is able to garner the numbers to de-seat PPP’s Khursheed Shah as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, it will be in a position to put its own nominee in this important position. Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s possible nomination for the position last week elicited a visceral reaction from within the party rank and file forcing him on the defensive and stating Imran would make the final decision. Naeemul Haq — Imran’s confidante — then faced the cameras and declared unequivocally that in fact Imran Khan would, most definitely, be the PTI nominee for the post of the Leader of the Opposition. Except there’s a problem.

2. If the decision for the Leader of the Opposition is taken before the judges decide the case, and if Imran Khan is indeed nominated as the person to replace Shah, and if he does indeed become the Leader of the Opposition and occupies the chair across the aisle from the prime minister, and if then the SC flings the judgment against him like a thunderbolt and disqualifies Imran Khan from being a member of the National Assembly — then we do have a problem.

3. If this were to happen, the honourable and most elevated Supreme Court would have successfully knocked out a prime minister and a leader of the opposition within a span of a few weeks. Go figure the optics of such an eventuality. And while you are doing so, spare a thought for the PTI chairman who would go down in history as possibly the shortest serving leader of the opposition in parliament.

4. Which is why if Imran Khan is smart — and if he wants to be the leader of the opposition — he would wait for the SC judgment before attempting to dislodge Khursheed Shah. He may want to think through the consequences of an ill-timed decision.

5. And yet there are other complications: a) the SC case against him may conclude but the judges may reserve their judgment. There’s only so much long the PTI can wait before it has to decide one way or the other about its bid to claim the slot of the leader of the opposition. Since the PTI has already cast the die it cannot let the issue linger on. The numbers will be clear fairly soon; b) if the judgement is taking time and PTI has to decide, it will either have the numbers and decide about Khan as the nominee; or not have the numbers and admit a humiliating defeat.

6. If PTI has the numbers, it will need to gamble with its nominee: a) go with Khan and run the risk of him being kicked out of the slot and the assembly by the court; b) opt for Shah Mehmood Qureshi or some other senior person and risk serious dissent and rancor within its ranks. Either way the outcomes are not pretty.

7. And if these outcomes are not pretty, buckle up in case Imran is disqualified and barred from contesting the next elections. The following immediate consequences would kick in: a) PTI will have to figure out who its prime minister would be if it wins the next elections. Minus Imran, this exercise for the party would be like going through a leg amputation with a steak knife without anesthesia. Recall the vicious reaction to the possible nomination of Shah Mehmood Qureshi as leader of the opposition, and now imagine the same party leadership — riven as it is with intense jealousy and factionalism — trying to agree on a prime minister. Yes, Imran Khan will nominate someone from among the senior ranks (Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood, Jahangir Tareen, Fawad Chaudhry?) but turbulence is not hard to imagine. Recall this is the same party that is yet to heal the self-inflicted wounds of its party elections.

8. Even more damaging would be the moral decapitation of Imran Khan and by extension the politics espoused by him and his party. He and Nawaz Sharif would then share a dubious moral equivalence in terms of misdemeanours as identified by Supreme Court judges. If the PML-N plays its cards right, it could in such an eventuality dilute to a significant level the damage done by its leader’s disqualification.

9. With Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan both out of the electoral battle of 2018, two major questions will arise: a) what is the credibility and sustainability of a system in which the two most popular leaders of the country are not on the ballot? And b) has representative democracy been beaten down by the powerful establishment to a level where its effectiveness in terms of real governance is in serious doubt?

10. If Imran Khan is disqualified, it will not mark the end of his politics. The irony may be lost on him that he will benefit from the same clause he has condemned so vociferously for enabling Nawaz Sharif to return as the president of his party. And yet Imran’s disqualification — if it were to happen — would reorient the contours of the debate about politics, accountability, courts and the role of the establishment in our ever-turbulent landscape.

It is high time politicians war-gamed some sense into their decision-making process.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2017.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Toti Calling
    Oct 1, 2017 - 1:09PM

    It appears the third force does not need IK anymore after NS has been disqualified. Recommend

  • amir
    Oct 1, 2017 - 1:51PM

    IK if disqualified should leave politics and than go after corrupt polticians. Let PTI run with sensible people, Asad Umar, Shah Mahmood, Jahangir Tareen. People like Naemul Haq and Fawad Ch are still babies and should be treated as such

    Knowing IK single track mind, getting after and ridding corruption would be a bigger service to Pakistan than becoming a PMRecommend

  • Vivek
    Oct 1, 2017 - 3:05PM

    But the Mr.10 % and his crony son is free from the law or they paid hefty money to Judges to keep out of disqualification Recommend

  • BrainBro
    Oct 1, 2017 - 3:59PM

    Only if the sacred cows really want to get rid of him, would he be disqualified. Right now, he’s doing exactly as commanded, so disqualification is out of the question.Recommend

  • Rashid Khoso
    Oct 1, 2017 - 5:39PM

    Excellent article specially the last line.”It is high time politicians war-gamed some sense into their decision-making process.”Recommend

  • Anon
    Oct 1, 2017 - 6:48PM

    Seriously? We have a problem imagining that Imran Khan would have access to $100,000?Recommend

  • F Khan
    Oct 1, 2017 - 7:55PM

    If IK is disqualified I will call it Karma.The real winners would be the establishment. Recommend

  • I. Khan
    Oct 1, 2017 - 11:38PM

    If Imran Khan is disqualified for not keeping a record of money transactions between him and his wife then all the Judges, Generals and politicians will also be guilty of not keeping complete record of all the money transactions for last thirty years.Recommend

  • adnan naqvi
    Oct 2, 2017 - 1:37AM

    @amir – If IK is disqualified due to corruption than he said go after corrupt politicians…Lol..Recommend

  • bikaar billy
    Oct 2, 2017 - 4:49AM

    Yes, make IK the Ralph Nader of Pakistani politics, more apt for his temperament.Recommend

  • Sean
    Oct 2, 2017 - 7:18AM

    Lot of ifs? Nation needs Imran to go after Zardari and corrupt leaders, MNAs, PMAs and many more Mafias, so we all will pray for him.Recommend

  • WSD
    Oct 2, 2017 - 8:08AM

    He is the lone wolf who fought against all he mafias. Even if he is disqualified he will continue hos mission. He has always given to Pakistan and unlike Sharifs and Zardaris, he will always serve the country to the best of his abilities.Recommend

  • Faisal Afzal
    Oct 2, 2017 - 8:54AM

    PM is not the only office to make a difference. Imran Khan has proven that before and he will continue to do so in future whether he’s qualified or disqualified.Recommend

  • Raghu
    Oct 2, 2017 - 12:32PM

    You have indeed spoken the truth.Recommend

  • kalalacka
    Oct 2, 2017 - 12:53PM

    no problem. he is never after power.. he can do alot even not being member of National assembly..Recommend

  • Atif
    Oct 2, 2017 - 2:02PM

    I recommend making Reham Khan the PM.Recommend

  • Kas
    Oct 2, 2017 - 8:41PM

    I’m not an Imran Khan supporter, but this is next level of ridiculous. A person who represented the country for 21 years, is going to be disqualified for not being able to prove a trail of a mere GBP 100,000 from 35 years ago. It is publicly known that he was employed by Surrey Cricket Club and Kerry Packer World Series, and had numerous endorsements from Pepsi, etc .. He was arguably one of the top 2-3 paid cricketers in the world at that time.

    This is ridiculous. If you don’t like Imran Khan, don’t vote for him (like I won’t vote for him). But he has every right to remain in Parliament, and to stand for elections in 2018.Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Oct 2, 2017 - 10:03PM

    Lets see… PML destroyed, MQM destroyed, Imran Khan and PTI in the sights, Fingers already being pointed at Zardari on Benazir case.

    I wonder who benefits by keeping all civilian parties destabilizedRecommend

  • teeru
    Oct 2, 2017 - 10:25PM

    same way Ns got disqualified for not taking salary from his son. imran khan. remember. tit for tatRecommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 3, 2017 - 12:32AM

    This is like saying ……IF auntie had a moustache, she’d be uncle. No, she’d still be auntie.
    In Imran’s case the punishment, if it comes to that, will have to be commensurate with the crime. His crime was that be brought money IN to the country and built a property IN Pakistan but is unable to give banking records for UKP one lac…….an amount someone like Nawaz or Zardari would scoff at. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Oct 3, 2017 - 8:58AM

    The aam aadmi who believe it or not look forward to another military junta.Recommend

  • Mamu
    Oct 3, 2017 - 10:57AM

    I think you forgot the judgement of the two judges. They said that he lied on the floor on the parliament. He was unable to prove the link between his wealth and his income. He did not provide the money trail. His daughter faked documents. The Qatari letter was a fake???
    And the Calibri font was a slap.

    And you have the guts to compare Nawaz case with Imran Khan’s case. You must have lost it.Recommend

  • Muneer
    Oct 3, 2017 - 11:02AM

    If Imran Khan is disqualified ( which as per the current law he could not be ), he should call it a day. He will be remembered in the history of Pakistan as one of the most respected political leader and human being.Recommend

  • nadeem
    Oct 3, 2017 - 11:37AM

    @Tyggar: you didn’t know already?? The sacred cowsRecommend

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