When the former Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan claimed victory in his country’s parliamentary elections, promising a Naya Pakistan, little did the awam know that the Naya Pakistan that would emerge would be worse than what they had seen till then. What Khan’s rallying for a Naya Pakistan did, was inflate expectations. Between wild-eyed fanaticism and outright bashing, almost forgot the messy, scattered, gargantuan prospect Pakistan really is. Undeniably, Pakistan has been heading in the wrong direction ever since its creation and Imran Khan is no better; an extractive political system created a rent-seeking political and economic elite, benefitting a sliver of society at the expense of the masses. Amid the backdrop of such misgovernance, Khan’s rise as a legitimate political alternative led to the fanning of irrational expectancies.
Pathetic progress shown by PTI
His party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, which was founded initially as a sociopolitical movement in 1996, finally claimed victory in Pakistan’s general elections in 2018, amid accusations of vote-rigging by rivals, a vote that was marred by allegations of fraud and militant violence.
Since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took charge of the country after winning general elections in July 2018, the party has had to deal with some of the most daunting problems faced by Pakistan. One major issue for Prime Minister Imran Khan and his men was controlling the prices of basic necessities and fulfilling its promises of making life easier for the general public. That, however, has not happened thus far.
After Imran Khan was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan (many Pakistanis say he was ‘selected’ by Pakistan’s all-powerful Army), one of his first priorities was to create a facade of peace gestures with India and Afghanistan, to recoup and reorganise an old well-oiled system that has supported organised terrorism across its eastern and western borders. The common challenges of poverty, illiteracy, and climate change confronting India and Pakistan were last on his mind, as he began to measure up to the expectations of his masters in uniform at General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi.
Before the elections, Mr. Khan had promised that if he were to be elected, his initial focus would be on the economy. But today, Pakistan’s currency has declined by 20%, inflation is on the rise, and the trade deficit widening, which has made a life of the common man miserable.
Several imminent leaders have criticized the Imran Khan government ever since his one-year performance reports started pouring in. Though he had promised millions of jobs during his electoral campaign, now, many who had jobs have been rendered jobless. It is alleged that the government is taking revenge on opponents in the name of accountability.
Exports such as textiles have taken a hit from cheaper products by regional competitors, including China. The country has had to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the country’s bailout twice in the last two years. The growth rate has almost halved, the balance of payments is in poor shape, the Pakistani rupee has depreciated significantly, and external debt is large and rising. Pakistan is in the midst of a crisis, but the PTI government surely has other important things to tend to.
Radical Antagonism as a way of life
Why is a nation, that is surrounded by its own problems, so obsessed with another country’s internal matters? Despite having such emergent issues at hand, why is its leadership compulsively driven towards raging a war against its neighbours?
On August 14, 1947, the day Pakistan was born, Hindus constituted about 25% of its population. In the last seven decades, they have been reduced to just 1.64%. They were either converted to Islam or killed, or came to India as refugees. Similarly, the population of Christians and other minorities like the Ahmadis have been reduced to a minuscule number, just about 3% of the population. Abductions and forced conversion of Hindu girls to get them married to Muslim men is not something new for the harassed people of Sindh. In Baluchistan, thousands of people have disappeared without a trace and Not a single person has been arrested or prosecuted. Nothing comes in the way of ISI in enforcing thousands of ‘disappearances’ of dissenting journalists, writers, and activists of various political movements, particularly in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. To most Pashtuns, Baloch, people of Gilgit-Baltistan, and even the Sindh’s, the military-controlled Pakistan state is that wolf; it has been fattening itself at the expense of the tribesmen and the peripheral provinces for years. Khan’s obsession with Islamic puritanism and piety comes as a result of Pakistan’s age-old political delusion created by his predecessors.
After all, Khan belongs to a political ideology that has no respect for secular traditions and, in fact, believes in ethnic cleansing. No wonder the only focus of this misled government seems to be to cry-out on the issue of Kashmir, a battle that is already lost and they shouldn’t even be bothered about it.
The Indian government’s decision to repeal certain provisions of Article 370 and abrogation of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, announced on August 5, 2019, was an internal step aimed at facilitating development and integration of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Khan’s cover of pretensions was completely blown off with this decision, which caught him off-guard and slow realisation dawned upon them that the assimilation of Kashmiris with the Indian nation was seriously being put back on track.
Imran Khan’s impotent rage over the nullification of the special status given to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and his childish threats of a “bloodbath” and “nuclear carnage” did not frighten anybody. Khan lamented at the United Nations General Assembly, begged for U.S. intervention and mediation, and resorted to personal attacks on Modi. He Cried at every possible global forum in media interviews that the world was not taking cognizance of the issue because the “suffering people” in Kashmir were all Muslims.
In a recent case of discrimination during the global pandemic of Corona-virus, the country’s Hindus and Christian minorities are not being given food supplies by authorities, saying they are meant for Muslims. Having hounded out religious minorities in this manner, Pakistan wants the world to believe that the Muslim minority is being persecuted in India. The reason why no one pays heed all the pleas made by Imran Khan is because whenever he talks of Kashmir, he just speaks about the Muslims. He has no concern for persons of other denominations. In light of all this, one wonders how any Pakistani can raise his voice and become a flag-bearer of democracy and secularism.
And now populous Pakistan has not yet made the grim headlines spawned by the global coronavirus pandemic, despite reporting its first infections on February 26. And as the death toll mounts, the blame for the government’s failure to learn from the mass outbreaks in neighboring China and Iran will fall squarely on the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose reluctance to act decisively may cost him dearly.
It seems that Pakistan takes one step forward and two steps backward every time. Conflicted by debates on good Muslim and bad Muslim; good terrorists and bad terrorists; democracy versus martial law, this country is at the mercy of its “selected” leader’s wisdom. The slogan propagated by PTI – justice, humanity, and self-esteem- stands shamelessly butchered today in every sense of the word as the very party that promised to transform Pakistan has plummeted it towards its doom. Injustice, inhumanity, and disrespect are all that they have left to celebrate and instead, they celebrate the foundation day of a failed mission. As the fault-lines in Pakistan grow deeper, the highhandedness of its government may only fuel the fire. The people feel Imran Khan has reneged on his election promises.
Only time can tell the future of these movements. But, one thing is certain—if the political belief system of the subcontinent is to be redrawn, the process will be bloodier than before.
24 Apr 20/Friday Written By: Saima Ibrahim