Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been heralded as a turning point in the war against terrorism. This new direction has received the support of the whole nation who could not longer bear the cost of tens of thousands being killed by the jihadi terrorists. The new direction has also pleased the Americans and Chinese who had grown impatient with Army’s lack of interest in breaking up militant camps. Underneath the new rhetoric, however, there lies a familiar bed of anti-Indian propaganda.
Imran Khan’s Azadi March has been reduced to Azadi Farce. After first declaring that Allah supported his ambitions, the PTI chief is today trying to use extortion to get his way. It’s a classic tale of vanity and delusion that could easily be mistaken for a Shakespeare tragedy. More importantly for us, though, Imran Khan’s latest saga is worth studying in close detail because in many ways Imran Khan is a reflection of ourselves.
A day after it began, PAT+PTI long march is beginning to reach Islamabad and the Kaptaan himself is expected to arrive later tonight. Imran Khan’s attitude has been comically arrogant, as apparent from his Twitter feed:
The government has been completely distracted by the marches, having to give full attention to security and responding to the crisis. Meanwhile, life moves on and while all political leaders are fighting on the streets, Pakistan continues to suffer from purely preventable problems.
This week, five more polio cases detected – including in Punjab – bringing year’s total to 115. The stock market has crashed 1300 points. Terrorists continue their war against Pakistan, last night attacking near Samungli Airbase bringing a startling reminder of devastating attack against Kamra Airbase in 2012.
This is not meant as a defence of Nawaz Sharif’s policies, or a justification of opposition complaints. Let me just ask this: Imagine if instead of organising long march to overthrow the government, Imran Khan organised a long march to end polio. Imagine if instead of organising long march to overthrow the government, Imran Khan organised a long march to defend minorities. Imagine if instead of organising supporters to deliver blows, Imran Khan organised supporters to deliver text books.
Even if Imran Khan’s ‘Azadi March’ succeeds, PMLN government will be gone but polio, terrorism, sectarianism, lack of education will all remain. Imran Khan knows he can organise massive action. He just doesn’t know what he should be organising action against.
For someone who promises to usher in ‘Naya Pakistan’, Imran Khan is singing a pretty old tune. His latest demand on the eve of this ‘Azadi March’ is for the government to be replaced with an extended technocratic government who will enact reforms before holding fresh elections. In other words, it is nothing but the old ‘Bangladesh Model’, freshly repackaged for Nawaz Sharif.
While Imran has not explained who exactly these ‘technocrats’ are, it doesn’t take a PhD to guess. They are the same ‘Ministers In Waiting‘ that have been eyeing their chance to take power since always.
Meanwhile, despite Imran Khan’s escalating demands and the sensationalistic media hype around them, the truth is Pakistani people are not interested in such a ‘Bangladesh Model’.
A PILDAT Public Opinion Poll has revealed that a substantial 67% of the country’s population believes that democratically elected governments constitute the best system for Pakistan. Crucially, the popular appetite for another Army rule in the country remains low as only 19% Pakistanis see another military rule as the best system for the country.
Finally, a gentle reminder to Imran Khan whose memory seems to be worst these days. The last time we wasted time and resources on this very same debate, an important point was finally acknowledged: ‘The advocates of the so-called Bangladesh model in Pakistan should never forget that this system has failed even in Bangladesh’.
In politics, decisions have consequences. Rana Sanaullah learned this lesson following Model Town tragedy in June when Pakistan Awami Tehreek protestors and Punjab police clashed and needlessly resulted in 14 deaths and hundreds injured. With 14th August on the horizon, Nawaz Sharif must be struggling with this lesson as well, trying to find some way to defuse a potentially explosive situation.