Imran Khan and the ‘deep state’

  • Wheels of time are turning

Imran is set to play his life’s final innings. This is the pinnacle of his career. However, all political parties but the PTI have cried foul. American news outlets have bashed Khan for his playboy past and his association with the military. Hameed Haroon, Dawn Media Group’s chief executive alleged on BBC’s Hard Talk that the ‘deep state’ was involved in election manipulation and media censorship. On the other hand, as soon as it seemed that Imran’s party was most likely to form government in Islamabad, China promised to sanction $2 billion, Saudi Arabia $1 billion, the Islamic Development Bank reopened $4.5 billion credit facility for the country’s oil export and the dollar took a downward trajectory by six points. All this because Imran does not have the country’s real mandate? Let’s ponder.

The European Union’s election monitoring team declared the polling process as free and fair. The maulana, who has time and again used religion to garner votes and subsequently amassed fortunes, put personal interest over national interest once more and tried convincing other parties to betray the people’s mandate and not take oaths in parliament which would have subsequently lead to another general election, not to mention the anarchy it could have caused. The maulana and most of those who stood together for a joint press conference after the APC were not even granted the mandate to represent.

Claims of pre-poll rigging have reared their ugly heads once more. It was alleged by the Sharifs’ media machinery, the maulanas and the pretend left, that the military had engaged in the splintering and formation of new political parties and alliances. They alleged these parties would win. These were the Grand Democratic Alliance, Kamal’s PSP, Ludhianvi, Rizvi and those contesting the elections with the ‘jeep’ symbol.

The National Assembly has 272 seats that one can contest for in the general elections. The remaining 70 are reserved for women and minorities. How many did the supposedly military backed factions win? The GDA bagged two NA seats, Ludhianvi lost to a woman candidate contesting on PTI’s ticket and the TLP and PSP bagged zero NA seats. The maulana lost from every constituency he contested. PTI successfully made inroads into Karachi’s domestic politics. This disavowed the notion that the military had backed political factions and strengthened the idea that soldiers only indulged in maintaining order.

Imran is now Islamabad’s reality. He not only enjoys the people’s mandate and a tremendous reputation regarding financial honesty but also the military’s respect

Politicians can throw tantrums about alleged election rigging as much as they want to but the people have rejected them. Throwing tantrums after losing elections has now become a tradition for parties. The people are sick of it. Period.

The truth of the matter is; the people are aware. They have risen. They have chosen Imran. With Nawaz in jail and the Zardaris on the run from the FIA, Pakistan’s politics looks like a dirty mess from afar. Get close enough and one realises, the man who has been sent to Islamabad by the people is someone not tainted by corruption allegation. He religiously believes in eradicating corruption from the root. This has earned him not only the people’s trust but also the military’s respect. Imran is probably the only civilian leader in the country’s history to have won the military’s respect. This, however, does not amount to being backed by the military. Respect and backing are two very different concepts with different consequences. Backing is what Ayub did to Bhutto, Zia to Nawaz and Musharaff to the MQM. Now, the military as an institution, following the Bajwa doctrine, may respect individuals for their moral strength but it backs only Pakistan.

While Imran’s foes try to spread confusion regarding the two, the people must demarcate vividly between backing and respecting. Loyalty to ideals has an inherent fallacy. Ideals don’t live forever, only God does. One must change ideals as and when needed. Ideals must be changed according to whatever increases the welfare of people at a given time.

EU’s poll observation team and some politicians site the media blackout of Nawaz’s welcome rally as evidence of pre-poll rigging. If the media was truly asked to censor, why did it not unite to fight the alleged pressure? Why did it cave in? It seems as if the media watchdog also smelled the political air. One only needs to look at newspapers’ headlines a day before and a day after July 25 and the smokescreen vanishes, leaving everything clear as daylight. As always, media groups have positioned themselves according to pro- and anti-government narratives, blaming the ‘deep state’ and protecting their own business interests. It seems Pakistan is barely into its Victorian epoch.

Why are international monetary institutions and states flocking to Pakistan’s aid? Why is Delhi in disarray? Why is the American media shouting? Why has the New York Times gone back on its earlier position and endorsed Khan now? Why are world leaders flocking to congratulate him? Even Shehbaz’s favourite autocrat, Turskish President Erdogan, phoned and congratulated Khan.

Imran is now Islamabad’s reality. He not only enjoys the people’s mandate and a tremendous reputation regarding financial honesty but also the military’s respect. ‘They’ shout because a Pakistan with Imran at its helm will not be bent. It must not. Imran has the required fortitude and the moral leverage to lift Pakistan out of darkness and onto the global stage. The time is ripe. The wheels of history have turned. It is time for Pakistan to shine with Imran as its standard bearer. Hail Pakistan!