Imran Khan’s Messiah complex will always get in the way of governance

It is said that adversity makes a leader. If that were so, the Coronavirus pandemic has once again shown how Imran Khan has been unable to move beyond his messiah complex and populism to truly govern Pakistan.

As columnist and Islamabad-based lawyer, Babar Sattar wrote “Those who thought PM Imran Khan might suspend partisan pettifoggery in a time of a global health and economic crisis to forge national unity to confront Covid-19 were letting hope trump experience. What has IK ever done in the past that would render him liable to such suspicion? IK doesn’t feel the need to bring the country together because he believes there is only one correct way to think about what is right for Pakistan and that is his way. To build consensus one must be willing to embrace diversity and consider different ideas with an open mind.”

Sattar notes “that each time a non-representative institution seeks to transgress its limits, it does so by claiming to speak in the name of the silent majority. We saw Iftikhar Chaudhry’s court anoint itself the “peoples’ court”. We saw dictators claiming to speak in the name of the people, preferring a government of technocrats and centralization through presidential systems. The underlying claim is the same: the only genuine way to pursue the good of the people is the one they are pursuing even if ‘the people’ they speak on behalf of are ignorant of it. Is it then a coincidence that the PTI and the purveyors of praetorian power look like a match made in heaven? Both believe that only they speak for ‘the people’ as a whole. Both believe there is one authentic view of Pakistan’s best interest and anyone who disagrees with such a view is either not a good Pakistani or an agent of someone or the other. Both believe it is in Pakistan’s best interest to not have their view of Pakistan’s best interest contested by anyone. Both have the messiah complex: it is only they who can save Pakistan from corrupt politicos and their patrons.”

Finally, Sattar explains “Once you recognize IK’s populist claim of being the only authentic voice speaking for the people of Pakistan and trying to save the country from itself, his use of the accountability process as a weapon to silence critics from opposition parties and mediums transmitting critical voices makes sense. Our PM has a dogged belief in his own self-righteousness and the vile motives of those who disagree with him. For him the accountability system is serving a larger purpose: shaping a Pakistan where he alone speaks for the people by attacking and deterring all critics.”

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