Pakistan: Grisly End To Imran Khan's Political Career

Pakistan: Grisly End To Imran Khan's Political Career

The flamboyant cricketer-turnedpolitician was never known for his cerebral prowess. He took for granted the patronage of the military establishment which in the first place had put him into the prime ministerial gaddi. It was hubris to believe that he could bite the hand that fed him and still prosper.

EditorialUpdated: Thursday, August 10, 2023, 04:11 PM IST
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Imran Khan | AFP

I t cannot be anyone’s case that to get a real perspective on Indian democracy we have to look next door to Pakistan, a nation born simultaneously with the division of the Indian subcontinent back in 1947. But even looking at some of the more advanced democracies in the western world, we Indians need not be pessimistic. No system is perfect. But because the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence we tend to be over-critical of what we have.

Warts and all, Indian democracy, given the huge size of the population, vast diversity, socio-economic differences, disparities in income and education, etc, hasn’t done badly — notwithstanding the habitual chest-beaters who make it their business to moan and groan, especially when the party that is not of their liking is in the saddle in New Delhi. Having said that, the latest from Pakistan does not at all surprise anyone.

As per a pre-scripted calendar of events, they first found an excuse to send Imran Khan to jail for what is essentially a grave error of judgement. The former prime minister ought to have deposited the proceeds of the goods sold from the toshakhana into the State treasury instead of appropriating these for himself. But three years of rigorous imprisonment for a folly such as this indicates nothing but a Statesponsored vendetta.

The flamboyant cricketer-turnedpolitician was never known for his cerebral prowess. He took for granted the patronage of the military establishment which in the first place had put him into the prime ministerial gaddi. It was hubris to believe that he could bite the hand that fed him and still prosper. Ruin was guaranteed. Had he cared to learn a lesson from the fate of Nawaz Sharif, who like him was catapulted into the prime ministerial office by the army and then cast aside when he tried to be his own man, Khan would have saved himself his current ordeal. You cannot become the prime minister with the help of the Rawalpindi GHQ, and then contemptuously cut the umbilical cord. The Pak military brooks no defiance.

Not long ago, Khan had emerged as a genuinely popular leader, acquiring a large following among the poor and the middle classes alike. It is another matter that the grave economic crisis through which Pakistan is now passing is largely of his making. Unfortunately, the blame is left at the door of the Shehbaz Sharif government while Khan exploits the grave shortage of essential items of daily use, 50% consumer inflation, precipitate fall in the value of the rupee and virtually a ban on essential imports required for manufacture of export goods. However, the bigger blow to Khan comes from the fact that the national and provincial elections are now to be postponed indefinitely.

The stratagem to put off elections has the tacit support of the higher judiciary as well as the Election Commission. The cardinal fact of political life in Pakistan is simple: you survive at the mercy of the Rawalpindi GHQ. Meanwhile, the ill-treatment of Khan in prison, his being denied facilities of a political prisoner, the crackdown on his supporters all point to the humiliating end to the political career of Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain. He was the darling of the people. But lacking even a modicum of commonsense, he committed the ultimate sin of meddling in the promotions of the top army generals.

His stated desire to see one of his favourite generals appointed as the army chief acted as the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. From that moment the countdown for his decimation had begun. After his arrest in May, his followers were set upon by the authorities, forcing them to sever all ties with him.

Now, the remaining few are being singled out for heavy-handed treatment. By all accounts, Khan is staring at a miserable end to his political career. For, the civilian rule in Pakistan is a sham. It is the army that calls the shots behind the scenes. Happily, the world at large ceased to see India and Pakistan hyphenated, as was the case in earlier decades. Anyone disheartened by events at home need look no further than Pakistan, or, for that matter, at the US or even the UK. We are a messy democracy all right, but still a working and successful democracy.

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