Time to move on Khan!

Published: October 27, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP The writer heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and is the author of Pakistan: Pivot of Hizbu Tahrir’s Global Caliphate

Can Imran Khan’s charisma survive the cacophony that has almost exclusively centered around the 2013 general election results? Or will the goodwill for his mission i.e., ensuring transparent elections, rule of law, meritocracy and good governance fade under his seemingly arrogant, self-righteous confrontationist approach?

Regardless of the outcomes of the recent by-elections in Punjab, the PTI’s Pakistan-origin supporters and sympathisers abroad have begun asking the aforementioned questions. In numerous conversations in the Americas, Europe and Japan, between July and now with these Pakistanis, one could discern their frustration with Khan’s post-dharna ranting — as if they see him squandering the chance to change Pakistan.

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Why this visible craving for a better Pakistan? Because the societies these expatriates live in are primarily defined by the secular model of governance comprising fundamental ingredients of equal citizenry, the rule of law and merit. This governance regime, which largely treats every citizen indiscriminately — regardless of caste, creed, colour or social status — naturally evokes a strong desire of change back home. And beyond doubt, Imran Khan’s PTI has for some time served as that beacon of hope for a better Pakistan.

But the fascination with Khan’s ‘revolutionary’ agenda is in many cases now giving way to a sense of despondency because of the PTI chairman’s hitherto fixation on the ‘2013 electoral fraud’. “How can a few favourable results turn the fate of Pakistan?” asked a wealthy car dealer in Tokyo. “Will Khan ever move away from his rhetoric on elections and political rivals?” asked another Pakistani settled in Geneva. Both have been quietly funding the party, probably fired by a passion to see a different Pakistan.

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Surprisingly, in a recent conversation in Istanbul, a few followers of Turkey’s mercurial leader Fethullah Gulen also wondered as to whether Khan has the ability to focus on real issues. Gulen, currently in self-exile in the US, inspires a huge number of middle and upper class Turkish academia, businessmen, industrialists — all of them seen as liberal and moderate Muslims committed to secular governance. Gulen also emphasises the importance of the rule of law and modern education for all Muslims. Gulen fell out with President Erdogan’s AKP for ideological reasons; he withdrew his support to the AKP once he saw it peddling a sectarian agenda.

The PTI is also anchored in the same ideals and that is why Gulen’s followers in particular tend to draw parallels between Khan and Gulen; both are using resources inside and outside the country i.e., the media, financial institutions, business organisations and a receptive youth to set the socio-political agenda in present-day Turkey.

Boys who cry wolf

Disillusioned PTI supporters and sympathisers abroad legitimately wonder as to whether Khan will move on and build on some of the institutional work his party has undertaken in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). The PTI, as its record suggests, has indeed delivered on some of the promises, such as on local government elections, on legislation like the Right to Information Act, the Right to Public Services, the K-P Conflict of Interest law, K-P’s Ehtesab Commission, ensuring operational autonomy to the police, new duty management mechanisms for government employees including public school and college teachers and paramedics, and initiatives to regulate public health institutions and make doctors more accountable.

Pakistanis abroad are also questioning as to why, instead of always protesting, the PTI MPs don’t influence the work being done by parliamentary committees relating to the rule of law, justice and other governance issues. During a discussion on de-radicalisation, a Japanese professor asked whether the K-P government had taken initiatives in this regard. He raised the question as we discussed how badly the north-western territories (K-P and Fata) have been affected by the radicalisation of minds. He went into a speechless pause when told that neither the provincial nor the federal governments had undertaken any real counter-radicalisation or de-radicalisation measures. Only the military, pointed out another Japanese professor familiar with Pakistan and Afghanistan, is running such programmes.

PTI’s end of innocence

Why can’t the PTI take the lead in launching counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation programmes, they asked. Unfortunately, the party’s singular focus on ‘electoral wrongdoings’ and its constant state of bereavement over the ‘cunningness of the status quo’ is gradually eroding the goodwill it has enjoyed thus far. Without a re-set of priorities, the diaspora’s confidence in the PTI will sag. Working through parliament to reform the status quo must constitute the core of the re-set. No shortcuts please. Time to move on Khan. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Layman
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:32AM

    Why I am not able to comprehend what actually people want from PTI and IK only after 2 years in power and that also in a province devastated by terrorism..Why khan don’t do that, why khan do this..what about those who are in power till now for the last 68 years, why not talk about regarding there corruption, nepotism, incompetence which has brought Pakistan to this state..you mentioned some institution building and good works of PTI in last 2 years, can you say the same about other governments in Pakistan, lets say for example Police reforms or RTI…IK is the one who has brought corruption and rigging two of the most important issues in the limelight which are the root cause of almost all the problems Pakistan is facing today, so criticizing IK for why he always talk about only those two is beyond comprehension..Recommend

  • Raghu
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:33AM

    The article is not giving the actual picture of Pakistani’s outside Pakistan. We live outside, but our heart and soul is with IK and that does not make us blind followers. We judge the moves of IK, We openly criticize if we dont like some thing. For e.g. participation of Reham Khan in politics. So mind you, IK is on the right path, he is bringing institutional changes to the KPK, improving law and order, reduced crime rate, improved schools and hostipals, not to forget the 360 mini water turbines to reduce load shedding of which 50 are operational. Protest to rigging is required unless and until they fix the system. This is the core and most important part to change. If you cant vote in the most popular person in your area then what else is left to do?Recommend

  • Paki
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:34AM

    No matter what you say…..PTI all the way!Recommend

  • Faisal
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:34AM

    Mark my words, he will never ever going to become PM of Pakistan. Because he is very immature as a politician.Recommend

  • ironMan!
    Oct 28, 2015 - 10:44AM

    The PTI, as its record suggests, has indeed delivered on some of the promises, such as on local government elections, on legislation like the Right to Information Act, the Right to Public Services, the K-P Conflict of Interest law, K-P’s Ehtesab Commission, ensuring operational autonomy to the police, new duty management mechanisms for government employees including public school and college teachers and paramedics, and initiatives to regulate public health institutions and make doctors more accountable. ..isn’t this enough already in short span of few years?

    These are revolutionary steps, never taken nor thought of. They think bridges, metros – Khan thinks “transport system”. They think to distribute money to win vote, Khan thinks to change electoral process for fair elections. It was never meant to be easy, the fights goes on and KHAN sahab – keep going!Recommend

  • Old Ravian
    Oct 28, 2015 - 11:04AM

    PTI and Imran have disappointed their die hard fans, but people have no other choice. PMLN’s governance style is not acceptable to people and there is no other alternative. So come what may, PTI will win 2018 elections. Recommend

  • Polpot
    Oct 28, 2015 - 11:38AM

    When ever the media wants to decrease the fame of IK. They come up with such articles and Pildat surveys. And the best part is that these things back fire and increase his popularity more. Recommend

  • Raheel Mannan
    Oct 28, 2015 - 11:39AM

    @ironMan!:
    Great words! Recommend

  • Logic
    Oct 28, 2015 - 12:25PM

    The article is misleading as it is portraying a minute fraction of PTI followers turning away as a big tide. IK, and PTI, is doing all according to plan and the party think tank knows that until we keep hammering on the 2013 rigging issues, its going to fall on deaf ears. At the same time they are going full throttle on KPK governance issues. However, I think PTI think tank should seriously consider Justice Wajeehuddin’s report and act on it. In Sha Allah we’ll achieve Naya Pakistan if we change ourselves rather wait for others!!!Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Oct 28, 2015 - 1:23PM

    Only if elections could have taken place on internet, PTI’s keyboard warriors (also commenting here) would have made IK the PM by now. But thankfully, thats not all there is to elections. IK’s lack of political acumen is evident and Pakistan is better off without him at the top seat. Recommend

  • Muhammad Usama Ahmad
    Oct 28, 2015 - 1:32PM

    The major problem with people of Pakistan, including this biased writer of the above article, is that they want to see instant and tangible results in order to judge a particular political party in power. For instance, metro bus, laptops, yellow cabs, 2 RS. Roti scheme, PM easy loan etc. All such aforementioned developments, resulted from the work of concerned political parties, are just short-term benefiting works which would have no long lasting repercussions. Whereas, IK so is working on the projects which would in long term benefit the nation such as work on corruption free electoral bodies, health, independent police force politically amputated, education etc….
    I am sure we dont need JANGLA BUSES or ORANGE TRAINs when people of pakistan are dying owing to famine, malnutrition, epidemics, illitracy etc.Recommend

  • Rambo
    Oct 28, 2015 - 2:38PM

    @Ahsan:
    YES, you are right. Aleem Khan also got SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND votes on the INTERNET.Recommend

  • Shakil Ahmed Khan
    Oct 28, 2015 - 5:40PM

    While you and people may be bored from Imran consistent demand of fair elections? whats wrong with that? do we have a free and fair elections in place ? NO
    Why you guys want to brush the real issue of rigging under the carpet? only because it suits status quo parties!

    While Imran do need to look for other issues and blunders made by government too! His initial decision to accept results but not rigging didnt go well! He should have gone with strong protest to get a new election instead of chugging along with lukewarm. Secondly if he had resigned, he should have stuck to that decision to force new elections.

    Election reforms are nowhere to be seen, have government done anything? no it will not as it suits them! So PTI need to press them for it! ECP is in shambles and support PMLN by every effort possible! It needs to be reformed.Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Oct 29, 2015 - 11:41AM

    @Rambo,

    No he got those votes through his expensive ON GROUND campaign. But guess what, he still lost! Which means there were more voters voting for other parties who did not agree with YOUR leader’s constant whining about the so called electoral fraud. Recommend

  • Rambo
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:42PM

    @Ahsan:
    Thanks to God you agreed that Alem Khan actually got those votes through his what ever type of Campaign. Thanks to God that you are now more aware that Imran is no more an Internet PM but a neck to neck contesting candidate. This acceptance by you is enough for me and will keep me happy for months, Atleast i have guided one PMLN supporter. Recommend

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