Rallying behind Imran Khan

Published: August 14, 2014
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Pakistan is heading in a very worrying direction again under Sharif, and we all need to rally in defence of our democracy before it is too late. PHOTO: AFP

I believe we can all agree that Pakistan needs, above all else, strong state institutions and the rule of law. These are the only way in which a proper modern country can function. They are necessary to ensure the social stability necessary for a functioning democracy and a prosperous market economy.

But when powerful individuals can sway the institutions of the state to serve themselves, when they can bend the rule of law and use the mechanisms of the state for private gain, then that can no longer be called a modern state. When there are individuals, business leaders or politicians or cultural icons that are not equal subjects to the state and its laws, when they can rise above the state and undermine it, then that is closer to a medieval, feudal state. And in that situation, democracy and aspirations for economic development are but a cruel joke.

Whether we like to admit it or not, Pakistan today does not look very much like a healthy modern state. On the one hand we do have elections, but what is the point of elections if the electoral process does not have the confidence of the people? The Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has declared victory in the last elections with barely 15% of the votes counted, and claimed a huge parliamentary majority as well. Small wonder then, that the opposition, led by Imran Khan, can raise hundreds of thousands of protesters to challenge the outcome of the vote.

I support Imran Khan’s position. Khan is not challenging or undermining the constitution or indeed the state. He is challenging the power clique of the Sharifs, who have long since entrenched their power base at the heart of the Pakistani political system, and have hijacked it to set them above the rule of law.

The election fraud at the last election and the way in which the courts have failed to redress it are only the straw that broke the camel’s back. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are not marching on Islamabad and risking violent confrontations with the police or even the army because Imran Khan has made allegations. They are marching because they are coming face to face with startling corruption and administrative ineptitude every day when they have to deal with the institutions of state. Corruption and ineptitude festered by the self-serving Sharif clique.

Furthermore, the right to peaceful protest, which is what Khan is using for his rally, is well within the law and the constitution. Sharif’s plans to use force if necessary to stop protesters entering Islamabad, on the other hand, are not what a democratic leader of a modern state would do when faced with peaceful protest. They are the actions of a man who is afraid that he cannot answer when a question over the legitimacy of his power and authority is raised. They are the actions of a dictator, or of a leader who is on his way to becoming a dictator. And that does not bode well for Pakistan.

So yes, we all agree that we need a stable Pakistan, in which the rule of law and the constitution are upheld, so that democracy can flourish and our society can prosper. And it is very unfortunate that right now Imran Khan’s actions are sowing instability. But surely the kind of stability that we need is that of a healthy democracy under the rule of law, not the stability we have had in the past under dictators and autocrats under the rule of force. Pakistan is heading in a very worrying direction again under Sharif, and we all need to rally in defence of our democracy before it is too late.

That is why I support Mr Khan.

Azeem.Ibrahim

Azeem Ibrahim

An International Security and Geopolitics Lecturer at the University of Chicago. Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding and a former Research Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and World Fellow at Yale. He is the Strategic Policy Advisor to Imran Khan and he tweets as @AzeemIbrahim (twitter.com/AzeemIbrahim)

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

  • Dr. X

    Absolutely. I failed to understand why people would choose stability over justice and prosperity. Zia ul Haq ruled a pretty stable country too.Recommend

  • rational

    As like minded people join together so by looking at the people or parties who are going hand in hand with imran, I can assure Pakistan will be in its worst political and economical situation. They have never been sincere with the country and its people and I can’t they are supporting imran for nothing. There is the glance of example in front of you of KPK. I know some people are desperate for new faces but in current conditions we cannot experiment for 180 million people especially when the outcomes are pretty obvious.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    He had and still does have a lot of power; power to influence the youth of the country- 50% of the population!! Why then is he busy creating fuss on the day of our independence rather than getting to work? Why not make KP like the country he wants to make Pakistan and prove it to everyone, that he and pti are capable of the job. Yes, the elections were unfair, but that’s old news, move on- he always states in his interviews that he doesn’t dwell in the “maazi” then why now?

    I applaud him for creating a sense of hope in my country, but he needs to be more considerate with his actions if he wants to be the next PM. And probs even steer clear of TQ. Recommend

  • Xman

    despite astutely attaching association with some of the prestigious education institutes of the world, the author has only been able to bring forward an emotional melodrama in his post, instead of an unbiased, rational analysis. Explains why IK is acting so immaturely, probably because of such analysts who are advising him.Recommend

  • fappy

    If you support Imran Khan why not come back to Pakistan and face the music here and enjoy the revolution.Recommend

  • Here’s PTI’s most prized intellectual making its most disingenuous argument. Recommend

  • Khan

    One of the poorest country of the world has two of the wealthiest politician in the world tells alot about the health of Democracy in Pakistan, Recommend

  • Malveros

    Sorry we don’t need Imran Khan. He is unfit to rule Pakistan.Recommend

  • Saleem

    … when powerful individuals can sway the institutions of the state to serve themselves, when they can bend the rule of law and use the mechanisms of the state for private gain, then that can no longer be called a modern state …

    Strange that an adviser to Imran Khan will say that as Khan just did that. LHC barred PTI & PAT from the march but no one cared about their decision. If the writer is really an advisor to Mr. Khan then he should tell him to learn to respect law. Mr. Khan, like any one else, should not consider himself above the law.Recommend

  • freed

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I support any one new.
    Recommend

  • Kamran

    The writer is typical blind supporter of Imran Khan based on 1992 world cup win and Shaukat Khanam Hospital, , Imran Khan is playing the same game he did his whole life use others to achieve some thing then portray himself as a winner, indeed Qadri created the show against Shareefs brothers , now Imran Khan wants to steal the show.Recommend

  • Ali

    Imran Khan has had one thing – he is mostly after N-league since day one whereas PPP and even MQM have put the country in an worse state. Makes one wonder…Recommend

  • Ali

    Imran Khan has had one thing – he is mostly after N-league since day one whereas PPP and even MQM have put the country in an worse state. Makes one wonder…Recommend

  • AW

    That is a very logical comment. I agree with you. Although being a supporter of PTI myself, I do realise that KPK could have been the role model had IK pursued his vision there. But then the only question I ask myself, had he remained quite on rigging & lawlessness, then who could have risen? None perhaps. And that is the reason rigging is a norm, a plague that has never left democracy flourish. Probably we challenge it sooner or later, then why not sooner?Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Yes, he should protest against rigging. But is 14th of August the appropriate time?Recommend

  • Anon

    RIght, absolutely… blind supporter… Recommend

  • Masud

    I fully agree with Azeem and would like to add that somebody has to stand up in this country. I wish Azeem was not a PTI supporter otherwise his word would have carried more weight. Anyway we cannot allow the status quo to remain, we need to do something now or it would be too late for next generations.Two politicians of this country have amassed this country’s wealth in foreign countries, how can Pakistanis trust them. Imran had everything and he still has, why should he bother to lead us, we need a leader like should support him for change.Recommend

  • mohammed

    How can you compare supporting Imran with supporting democracy? If you believe in democracy then let the secular parties in Pakistan run for election. As appose to violently closing them down or resorting to murder – like in the case of Salman Taseer – if any secular opinions are expressed. Many of these actions are perpetrated by the intolerant anti-democratic individuals that Imran sympathises with; such as the Taliban. There is nothing modern or democratic about this man.Recommend