When will Imran Khan get his own house in order?

Published: November 26, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan can often be heard insisting that he will not let any corrupt politician go scot free and that at no cost will he grant NROs. Sadly, with Nawaz Sharif departing for London this past week, it is apparent that the premier’s claims ring hollow. However, Imran continues to reiterate these assertions with increased vigour. It seems he has lost touch with the political realities that have clearly changed since he took over the reins of the country. Not a single day goes by without Imran constantly complaining about the supposed corruption of his opponents, which he then uses as a tool for political vengeance. He continues to sell his narrative with the assistance of Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the special assistant to the prime minister on accountability and Farogh Naseem, the federal minister for law and justice. 

His modus operandi is straightforward – simply throw all the blame on the previous governments by pointing at their alleged corruption and get away with shockingly poor governance. Just recently, during his speech at the inauguration of the Hazara Motorway, Imran carried out a trademark verbal assault against all of his political rivals. He mimicked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and mocked both the Sharif brothers, as unbecoming of him as it was to stoop so low.

During his speech, he also lamented that there were a different set of laws for the mighty and another for the weak. The prime minister asked the incumbent chief justice, Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and his to be successor, Gulzar Ahmed, to dispel this impression. He also claimed that some people were clearly getting special treatment, given the fact that the Lahore High Court had allowed Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad. However, he conveniently failed to highlight that the government had chosen not to appeal against the high court’s decision. 

His criticism of the judiciary came at a time when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was deliberating an application from the opposition asking to hear PTI’s foreign funding case on a day-to-day basis. Ironically, the opposition’s application was also given a go-ahead afterwards. In a scathing reply to the premier’s comments, Chief Justice Khosa pointed out that it was the Supreme Court that had sent three prime ministers packing and he also underlined the fact that it was the government that allowed Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad.

This brings us to the gross incompetence, abject failure and countless U-turns that have marked the rule of the present government. Rampant inflation and poverty have become the order of the day. Insurmountable utility bills have effectively broken the back of the common man. In short, the ruling party has made the lives of citizens a living hell. Imran had claimed that police reforms would be introduced to improve their performance, but sadly, these reforms are non-existent. Gut-wrenching incidents like the Sahiwal massacre have failed to jolt the government out of its lethargic inaction. 

Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the adviser to the prime minister on finance and revenue, made a laughingstock of himself when he said tomatoes were being sold in the market for Rs17 per kg. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. This exemplifies how terribly aloof and oblivious the members of the cabinet are of the ground realities. Imran also allowed Sheikh Rasheed, the railways minister, to keep his position despite the heart-wrenching railway accident where 74 passengers became the victim of the conflagration. This is the same person who demanded the railway minister’s resignation in 2017 over the Lodhran incident. 

Imran does not tire of harping on the same string about Riyasat-e-Madina. The constant vitriol he spews and the steps he takes are often contradictory to the ethos behind the Madina welfare state model. The state of Madina was not supposed to make the lives of the common men and women miserable. With the price of essentials increasing regularly, it is hard for the masses to keep their heads above the water. The persecution of political rivals through witch-hunts and sham trials was never a salient feature of the state of Madina. It was a welfare state where the lives of the common man were safeguarded. Imran should stop seeking refuge in religious ideals in an attempt to cover his long line of follies.

Arguably, Imran’s regime has been undermined by Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s Azadi March and Nawaz’s departure abroad. Additionally, rumours suggest that the deep state is not happy with the disappointing performance of the ruling party. The final nail in this dilapidated coffin seems to be the lack of support Imran is enjoying from the people and it is high time that the prime minister set his own house in order and puts his finger on the pulse of the fast-changing political landscape or his spell may be over sooner than anyone had expected.

Zaeem Mumtaz Bhatti

Zaeem Mumtaz Bhatti

The writer is a practising lawyer based in Lahore. He tweets @zaeem8825 (twitter.com/zaeem8825). He can be contacted at [email protected]

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