It is an undeniable fact that Imran Khan is a political leader in his own right, enjoying considerable following in the country. But regrettably, he has not been able to come up to the expectations of a majority of the people.
His failure to deliver as per his pledges, particularly in the economic domain, to some extent, is surely attributable to developments on the global level, but the flawed strategies of his government played a major debilitating role in this regard. His much-hyped democratic credentials were also dented by his refusal to accord due recognition to the role of the opposition parties in a democratic dispensation.
He exhibited an unrestrained propensity to rule the roost to the exclusion of all other political entities. He tried to push the opposition parties against the wall, introduced a culture of violence in politics and disrespect for the constitution and law. He also tried to gag and suppress media freedom through draconian laws which were fiercely resisted by the media. All the foregoing factors contributed to his downfall.
He handled the no-confidence motion in an unconstitutional manner, warranting intervention by the Supreme Court in its capacity as custodian of the constitution. Regrettably, after his exit, a sustained campaign was unleashed on social media to heap scorn on the judiciary and the Army, which has rightly been taken notice of by both the institutions.
The judiciary is the most sanctimonious institution of the state and the ultimate adjudicator. Defiance of its decisions or heaping scorn on them is simply unimaginable in civilised societies. Lack of respect for the constitution and the law leads to chaos and upheaval in societies. Therefore, a true leader has to be mindful of his constitutional and social obligations.
His party did not stop at casting aspersions at the judiciary. The President and Governor Punjab declined to fulfil their constitutional obligations to administer the oath of office to the newly elected Prime Minister and Chief Minister Punjab respectively.
The violence that occurred in the Punjab Assembly during the elections of the Chief Minister in pursuance of the orders of the Lahore High Court was not only an affront to the court but also an act of national shame. The mayhem looked to be triggered by PTI legislators egged on by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi whom the camera showed giving a thumbs up to those creating a ruckus.
One really wonders at the audacity of Imran Khan to keep hammering the theory of US conspiracy to oust him from power with connivance of the opposition parties and also claiming that the three proposals to resolve the political deadlock came from the establishment, in spite of the fact that the DG ISI, in his presser, categorically refuted those claims.
Imran Khan kept the entire country on tenterhooks by making claims about 35 punctures and unfurling political agitation in the past, which in the end he himself admitted was only a political slogan. During his rule, the filing of a reference against SC judge Qazi Faiz Isa was the most detestable effort to intimidate the judiciary.
In a media conversation, Imran has now admitted that it was a mistake on the part of his government and blamed the ministry of law for having initiated it. However, Farogh Nasim, who was the law minister, has contradicted Imran’s assertion and said it was him who insisted on filing the reference. In view of the foregoing facts, one really shudders to think where we are headed to as a nation.
At the moment, the former Prime Minister has embarked on addressing public rallies across the country, cashing on anti-US sentiment that easily sells in developing countries, not realising the consequences of his political adventure for the country. He is drawing large crowds in his rallies, usually very charged, polluting their minds with wrong notions and inciting them on violence to achieve his objective of forcing the incumbent government to go for immediate elections.
Nobody in his right mind would begrudge him his popularity, but there is no denying the fact that he is treading a very dangerous course. Popularity is all right but what really matters in the national context is whether a leader is promoting positive tendencies to safeguard social and political harmony or not.
Imran is well advised to remain part of the system and play his role as an opposition leader. It is no use going to elections unless there is a political consensus on the mode of elections and related reforms to make the whole process credible and acceptable to all stakeholders.
For doing that and resolving other contentious issues he will have to abandon his false narrative and act like a true political leader, believing in the art of the possible. He will have to accept the reality that he cannot stop PPP and PML-N from being part of the assemblies because they have a very strong support-base in the country; the latter in particular, is almost undefeatable in the Punjab province which ultimately determines who rules at the centre. There is no choice other than sitting with them and bringing reforms in the system to eliminate the chances of political turmoil forever.
I am not a clairvoyant but reading into the permeating political ambience, can safely say that if Imran continues with his anti-judiciary, anti-establishment and anti-US rhetoric and showing disrespect for constitution he would find it extremely difficult to return to power in spite of garnering street power and support.
He needs to realise the ground realities and show maturity and flexibility in his attitude. These traits are indispensable for a long-lasting political career. Politics is a strange pursuit. It can catapult you to dizzying heights as well as throw you in the abyss of oblivion. One can reach the pinnacle of glory only by following the accepted democratic norms and sticking to the constitution and the law. Any conduct to the contrary leads to an inglorious ending.