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Mother of all U turns

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan

Ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s political gimmickry finally came to an abortive end on 26 November with a humble show of power in Rawalpindi culminating on yet another stunning U turn that could be called “mother of all U turns”. 

After having an aerial view of the jalsa, Khan was pretty convinced that it was next to impossible to hit the target and was impelled to take an on-the-spot decision not to move towards Islamabad, thereby saving himself from huge embarrassment. 

It may be noted that the prime motive behind Khan’s long march dubbed as “Haqeeqi Azadi March” was to take Islamabad by storm and pressure the PDM government to appoint the new army chief of his choice, but after his plan was thwarted by the coalition government, he made a departure from his original plan and decided to direct his march towards Rawalpindi and stage a sit-in at Faizabad in a bid to force the establishment to negotiate with him and provide him a face saving but that too couldn’t materialize. Having received no positive signal from the powerful quarters, Khan was compelled to hold a rally at Chandni Chowk Rawalpindi to avoid embarrassment. 

By the way, toppling Shahbaz Sharif’s rainbow-coalition government has never been Khan’s prime objective as his target has always remained the GHQ ab initio and the real aim of the so-called Haqeeqi Azadi March was aimed at getting the army chief of his own choice in which he miserably failed. Even he couldn’t prevail upon President Arif Alvi to put the summary on hold for a few days. 

The fate of the “Haqeeqi Azadi March” was long written on the wall in bold letters that was visible even to those with weak political eyesight, and it’s not very hard to guess what fate has in store for Khan. Seeing the paltry number of people that had shown up for the jalsa, Khan was impelled to call off the long march, to be more precise, the “lingering march” which kept on moving with one step forward and two steps backward and took almost a month to reach Rawalpindi from Lahore. On the “D” day, a humble assembly of a few thousand people opened Khan’s eyes to the reality on ground that compelled him to take the embarrassing U Turn. 

Public response to the passionate appeal of Imran Khan turned out to be abysmally poor despite having government in two full-fledged provinces and two semi provinces constituting almost 70% of the total population. The march which was initiated with an intent to vanquish Islamabad ended without achieving the desired results thus forcing Khan to make an abortive attempt to save himself from embarrassment by expressing his visibly wavering intention to make an exit from the provincial assemblies. But Khan needs to remember Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying: “You can fool part of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. 

Khan’s precipitous decision to call off the long march without achieving the desired objectives has brought an utter disillusionment to PTI’s supporters and even to Khan’s sympathizers as they considered the crucial long march as a watershed event in the chequered political history of the country.

As for his speech, as usual, his speech was a mere replay of his previous addresses carrying baseless accusations, hackneyed expressions and abusive tone. It was a political harangue containing craftily coined political rhetoric that has become quite cliché over a period of time before the audience evincing no enthusiasm. 

Lastly, as for Imran Khan’s assertion, stating that he has decided to abandon the march towards Islamabad just to avoid creating conditions of anarchy and chaos and to also to avert a massive bloodshed, adding that instead he has decided to make an exit from the provincial assemblies, he should have done this well before much damage was done to the country as well as to his party and to his own image too. That could have saved him from huge embarrassment that he faced yesterday.

That having been said, all is not lost. Imran Khan instead of mulling over dissolving provincial assemblies, should return to parliament and hold negotiations with the government to arrive at some solution which is acceptable to both Imran Khan and the government. Herein lies interest of the country and the ultimate remedy to the issues facing both sides.

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