Of course, he likes to do anything and everything other than plugging holes in a sinking Titanic. But why plug holes when you are too busy writing your own comedy of errors?
In the febrile world of Pakistani politics, no prime minister has ever completed a full term. Even if Khan is ousted, it is unlikely that it will spell the end of his political career. Ever since he founded the PTI in 1996, Khan has been a campaigning politician.
He seems most comfortable in front of a crowd of rapturous supporters rather than doing the more mundane and methodical work of government. Khan has continued to act like an opposition leader despite being prime minister – using rallies to criticize the opposition and even to relay messages to foreign powers. Perhaps His removal will give him a new political life.
It may be a sign of ‘bad’ things to happen as the PTI loses its grip on power. Even as he has lost mass public support, Khan has had no problems calling huge rallies across Pakistan. His deeply reactionary politics resonates across swathes of the country. Imran’s brand of politics will outlive him. That will be his legacy.
Will Smith wouldn’t have walked away with the Best Actor award, had the Oscars considered the last couple of performances of Imran Khan as Prime Minister of Pakistan. I am referring to his last night’s act of ‘mistakenly’ naming the United States as the ‘foreign threat’ with a smug face and then pausing and saying, “Amerika nahin, kisi aur mulk se (not America, but another country)” — that might have turned more heads than Chris Rock being slapped.
Not to forget the dramatic action of waving a “threat letter” from a “foreign country” to dislodge his government in a public rally, which also had audiences on edge the entire week.
And this godforsaken week has been a challenging week for the Imran Khan government. He is faced with the prospect of losing the majority in the National Assembly after allies joined the ranks of the Opposition on the vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister. He is shaken by finding foreign conspiracies against itself. Imran is occupied, marketing a so-called ‘threat letter’, which wasn’t even a letter. Of course, he likes to do anything and everything other than plugging holes in a sinking Titanic. But why plug holes when you are too busy writing your own comedy of errors?
Only three days ago, PM Imran Khan, in his Islamabad support show, had waved a letter, claiming it contained threats from a foreign power against him and hinted at a larger conspiracy to oust him with the help of the opposition parties. Alarming indeed was that neither the Interior Minister, the Defense Minister, nor the Information Minister knew about this letter. An embarrassed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi did claim he had many secrets in his heart… (Whatever that means).
And then, parachuting into action, the security authorities had ruled out that there was no international conspiracy at play to oust the Prime Minister and that no foreign country had written any threatening letter. Suddenly, in the whole LetterGate, there was no letter. For what was being referred to or made a hullabaloo about was actually a diplomatic cable by Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan written to the Foreign Office.
Sermonizing, even though not knowing anything about this letter/cable to now crying in the Cabinet meeting, “Ye Pakistan ke saath aakhir ho kya raha hai? (What’s even happening with Pakistan?)”
The cable had made it to the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, where a statement was released not naming the country but making sure that a strong gimmick had been thrown at the crowd.
Unfortunately…quite contrary to the Khan administration narrative, no international conspiracy theories to oust the government were fanned; the ‘planned assassination’ of the Prime Minister and the claim that the Opposition was in cahoots with a foreign power also didn’t make the cut in the NSC statement.
Did Pakistan not call acting US Envoy in Islamabad to protest its own Ambassador’s letter???
In his live address to the nation, PM Khan repeated the same (used kartoos or bullet) ….the old rhetoric and used the cable for his political gain. He named the United States and went on to cast the same aspersions on political rivals as he has done throughout his term, with no bother if this makes Pakistan a laughing stock in front of the world.
Without prejudice, or any bias simply recall how the governments of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari were ‘punished’ for much less in the name of Dawn Leaks and Memogate, but will someone punish the Khan government for making public secret communications?
For now, the ‘letter’ remained this week’s ‘truck ki batti’ with the voting on the no-confidence motion due on 3 April. Expect every minister and the Prime Minister to act like headless conspiracy theorists. From Germany to Japan, North to South, ‘saazish’ is brewing to oust Khan.
I want readers to give a moment to Imran’s Information and Broadcasting Minister claiming that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is meeting Indian and Israeli diplomats to plan a global conspiracy. In the middle of all this, the nation’s Interior Minister is making a (comical) effort convincing us how bad Sharif was when he gave Ajmal Kasab’s address to India. There is some serious competition, a tournament within the government about who speaks the biggest lie, louder than the loudest colleagues.
Imagine a scenario in which the Chiefs of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mossad, the Mi6, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) are all working towards one common goal of ousting Imran Khan. Reason? He was “pursuing an independent foreign policy” — a claim that can’t stand on the basis of just one flash visit to Russia followed by a letter from the European Union ambassadors, seeking support on Ukraine.
In a similar situation can the much despised Indian PM come up with his version that there is a conspiracy to oust him because the US Deputy National Security Advisor spoke of repercussions for India backing Russia?
But here, the narrative is being built on conspiracy lines. Invoking Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s parallel of a “foreign hand”, waving a paper in public, Khan thinks he is ‘nisf-Bhutto (close to) ZAB, now. He refers to the latter’s murder conspiracy, but the fact is that Bhutto was put to the gallows in another circumstances, in a different time under military dictatorship…
Now, does Imran have an escape goat? We don’t know. The much-talked-about sovereign foreign policy of Pakistan is such that US President Joe Biden hasn’t called Khan even once after coming to power. The PM’s phone calls and letters to global leaders have fallen on deaf ears.
Again, his relationship with Saudi Arabia was bitter and utterly soured when his Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi threatened that Pakistan will consider making its own Islamic bloc with Malaysia and Turkey. Again…let’s talk sense, is China happy today, with the slow progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Even as he has lost mass public support due to his country’s runaway inflation, Khan has had no problems calling huge rallies across Pakistan. His followers still adore deeply reactionary politics resonating across swathes of the country. Imran’s brand of politics will outlive him. And that will be his legacy.
The Bengal-born writer Nazarul Islam is a senior educationist based in USA. He writes for Sindh Courier and the newspapers of Bangladesh, India and America. He is author of a recently published book ‘Chasing Hope’ – a compilation of his articles.