Imran Khan: Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Published: September 30, 2013
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Imran Khan was supposed to be an agent of change and hope. His followers have been severely disappointed! PHOTO: AFP

Imran Khan is a dying phenomenon. He seems to be losing the fan base that he had gathered up in the last five to six years. His supporters and voters seem to be losing hope in him and the young generation, especially first-time voters, feel like they have been left in limbo with nowhere else to go.

There was nothing surprising about Imran’s ascent in the political arena. People were tired of the same old faces, the same broken promises and needed a new ideal to latch on to. Consequently, most people followed Imran blindly, without giving any consideration to his political agenda and his views on important national issues. They gave him a ‘prophetical’ status, rallied for him, enrolled in the ‘Tabdeeli Razakar’ program and did what any patriotic Pakistani would have done. However, what the patriots did not realise was that the hype around Imran would soon fizzle out and things would go back to ground zero.

The recent wave of terrorism in the country and constant threats by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that they will continue with their activities until negotiations are initiated, is very alarming. This has put the government on a back foot and increasingly it seems that the government will have to hold talks on the militants’ terms, rather than keeping national security as their top priority.

Perhaps Imran and his supporters need to travel back in time and assess when things started falling apart.

Flash back

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was making waves and both, the young and old were flocking together to join the latest craze that was Imran Khan. He won the hearts of many with his charisma, fiery speeches, promises for a better Pakistan and open challenges to Mian Sahib and Zardari. He ignited political fervour in the rural areas as well as the urban;  in the young as well as the old; in the illiterate as well as the educated.

Attending a PTI jalsa became the thing to do and people did. PTI supporters wreaked havoc on social media too and a word against Imran would bring a barrage of insults your way. Then came May 11, 2013, when people woke up with hope in their eyes and patriotism in their hearts. Pakistani expatriates flew all the way to Pakistan to cast votes in favour of PTI and Imran, hoping for a change. He was claimed to be the only saviour for this nation.

Where did things go wrong?

It is now clear that Imran Khan lacks political foresight and flexibility. His first major mistake was to lock horns with none other than the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). A little understanding, seat adjustment and alliance with the largest political party in Karachi could have given PTI a chance to establish itself and implement its manifesto which, by the way, was very much in line with the manifesto of MQM.

Imran was over-confident and thoroughly mistaken in assuming that he would be an overnight success in Karachi alone. Rigging or no rigging, PTI failed to cause any considerable dent in the vote bank of MQM, and the following by-elections, under surveillance of the army, gave credence to the fact that PTI was losing its popularity fast in this part of Pakistan.

His second crucial blunder was to team up with the Taliban and support their recent demand for opening up offices for the militants. His main stream followers are mostly educated elite and students, who cannot under any circumstances support this stance; and this is fast causing a slump in his popularity.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), where PTI enjoys complete control, has seen no improvement and there seems to be no proper road map laid down by the chief minister and his team. Instead, the blood-thirsty Taliban are being given an opportunity to further implement their agendas.

What makes matters worse is that Imran Khan is running the show as a dictator, and even his own party members are not privy to his policies and decisions. Just recently, a statement made by Khan regarding the opening of a Taliban office has been completely disowned by his party member, Asad Umar who claimed that this was a personal wish of the Khan, and does not reflect the party’s official view.

Imran Khan who once rallied against nepotism, is now giving priority to the relatives and friends of main stream PTI leaders over common workers, for different party positions. it seems that PTI has become like any conventional Pakistani political party where affiliations are preferred over merit.

The recent attacks in Peshawer – the church blast, followed by an attack on the employees of the secretariat – speak volumes about the kind of administrative strength PTI has over the affairs of the KPK province right now.

Suggestions for damage control

It is obvious that PTI needs damage control and needs it fast. Instead of crying over rigged cases, Imran needs to focus on good governance in the KPK province, and he needs to re-consider his stance on negotiations with militants. His own supporters are sceptical of his statements and actions, and have very recently started expressing their disappointment in him openly on public forums. One such status on Facebook reads:

“I’m disappointed in Imran Khan’s demand for an office for Taliban. Seems like my vote just went to waste.”

Says it all, doesn’t it?

Do you think Imran Khan has lived up to his promises?

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Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi (twitter.com/arsalanfaruqi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.