Col Ikram Ullah Chitral

A changing of the guard

Col ® Ikram Ullah Khan

With Imran Khan’s ouster as Pakistan’s first-ever prime minister through a vote of no-confidence and sent packing unceremoniously, the erratic political environment of the country has witnessed an unprecedented volatility that has raised the political temperature in the country to the boiling point.

The intense reaction of the masses shown in different cities of the country is clearly indicative of one thing that people are still sentimentally attached with Imran Khan despite his failure to deliver.

The letter-gate scandal brought to the fore by Imran Khan in a desperate attempt to save his government using it as a trump card, has generated an increasingly heated debate in the public raising many eyebrows at the same time as to the veracity of the impugned threatening letter which according to former senior diplomat Mr Abdul Basit, is an assessment by Pakistan’s ambassador and not a threat from a foreign country. The US State Department spokesperson has also denied US involvement in the regime change in Pakistan terming it as a baseless allegation. Nonetheless, it has stirred Khan’s supporters’ emotions taking them to new heights and he seems to have earned public sympathy despite his abysmal economic performance and poor governance.

Having risen to power through a popular vote in 2018 general elections which his political opponents decline to accept and have been terming him as a “selected prime minister” throughout and who according to them, ascended to the throne by the active support of the establishment which I strongly disagree with, failed to measure up to the expectations of the masses. During his electioneering, Khan had raised people’s hopes to an unreasonably high level through lavish promises to generate employment, bolster economic activity, provide homes to the shelterless, fight corruption and pursue an across-the-board accountability which he very well knew would remain a mirage.

With the dwindling number of members in the NA which fell short of the required number to keep him afloat and make him continue occupying the saddle, khan’s ouster was writ large on the horizon. Instead of facing the no-confidence motion gracefully, he chose to tread a collision path and showed stubbornness as was expected, fought to the last, made abortive attempts to give surprise after surprise and claimed to have more surprises up his sleeve that he intended to use one after the other had not the clock set by the Supreme Court ticked twelve night thereby closing the door to more surprises and he had to carry them to Bani Gala in his bag. His misplaced priorities, his directionless policies, self-righteous approach towards governance issues, his extreme rigidity and lack of accommodative spirit were instrumental in pulling him down the ladder thus precipitating his downfall. Had he shown flexibility in his attitude, tackled the simmering issues with prudence and diplomacy and heeded to the advices of the sane elements in the party and those calling the shots, he would have survived to complete his tenure.

With his foreign conspiracy theory to dislodge him capturing the public imagination, Khan has formally launched his election campaign with the hope to win with landslide. Playing to the public gallery has remained Khan’s forte and he would aggressively use it to the optimum. He believes that this is the right time to strike when the iron is hot.

All said and done, let’s be generous enough to give Khan the credit where it is due. Despite his failure to deliver in economic front and energy sector, he has done good job in other fields which must be acknowledged and appreciated. For instance, upholding the principle of meritocracy and transparency while conducting tests and interviews for government jobs, his police reforms in KPK, reforms in education and health sectors and transparency in Ehsaas Program (a new variant of Benazir Income Support Program) speak for themselves.

As for the new government headed by Shahbaz Sharif, the less said the better. Pinning hopes on them would be unrealistic given the bad shape of the economy and also their past track record. The ragtag band of heterogeneous political elements brought together by political expediency is destined to fall apart very soon. People would soon see them falling out with each other over power-sharing as lion’s share will be taken away by PML-N which may come as a bitter pill for Zardari to swallow. Fazlur Rehman will have to wait for the promised slot which is yet to be vacated by Dr Arif Alvi which in any case, is not going to happen anytime soon.

The bottom-line is: Those who do politics of allies and place themselves at their mercy and fail to learn from history, get perished sooner or later. Pakistani politics is replete with examples where allies have parted ways with the main political party after seeing the wind blowing in the opposite direction and this is exactly what happened with PTI.

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