Imran Khan Is A Dangerous Moron. Yeah I Said It.
I have not been following the unfolding 14th August “Azadi March” drama closely at all. I’ve largely confined myself to reading headlines at the Dawn website and the occasional op-ed from the Express Tribune that would not result in a nose-bleed or worse an aneurysm (or even both at the same time which would be a most undignified way to go). The entire thing is painfully boring; Imran Khan wants to be PM. The current government is overreacting to his jejune behavior. And Imran Khan still wants to be PM because a person of his station cannot be saddled with running a piddly province that isn’t named Punjab.
Nonetheless, there are some things that have still jumped out at me regarding this entire episode. Let’s just build a timeline for this shall we?
We hold elections on the 11th of May 2013, which result in a victory for the PMLN. Most polls conducted to gauge the outcome of these elections had been pointing exactly in that direction. The PMLN ended up winning the election with a majority so large that they themselves were taken by surprise at the scale of their victory.
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve ordered an enormous amount of food I’m usually unsurprised when the amount of food I receive is, in fact, enormous. Now if I’ve ordered a side salad and end up getting a seven-course meal, I’m probably going to find myself in a slight state of shock. A rather delighted shock, but a shock nonetheless. I can’t speak for anyone else; but the fact that the winning party was not expecting the decisive victory they attained makes it appear as though the elections were not won on the back of “massive” “unprecedented” rigging. (I would also like to take this moment to file an LOL complaint at all the PTI claims of “unprecedented” rigging when we have the Zia referendum, the Musharraf referendum, and the 2002 elections behind us.)
It would be unfair to dismiss the PTI’s initial qualms with the elections out of hand. The PTI’s initial demands were for recounts / electional tribunal investigations into four seats that they believed they ought to have won. Electoral day activities on one seat in particular (Saad Rafique’s NA-125) did appear to be rather suspicious what with Mr. Rafique busting into the polling station himself and raising hell. Certainly the PTI is well within its right to take these complaints to the Election Tribunals and to get to the bottom of these situations.
Through these early days the PTI’s purported stance was that of a desire to improve the electoral process in Pakistan. It would be obscene of me to see this position as unfair. Indeed, electoral reform is important anywhere in the world and is of particular importance to our nascent democratic experiment (THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM!!)
However, the demands of the PTI have continued to snowball since then and we currently find ourselves in a situation where the Tehreek finds that any and all evidence that goes against them is evidence of a system so deeply corrupt that it would never allow Mr. Khan to ascend to power. I use Mr. Khan specifically here as the sole objective of the PTI at this stage is to install Imran Khan as Prime Minister on the back of a mid-term election that they expect to sweep. (Mind you, the PTI also expected to ‘sweep’ the May 2013 elections and when that didn’t happen, well, a lot of IK Kurtas were wept into.)
The PTI has concocted a grand conspiracy that resulted in their loss which even by our standards (Malala Yousufzai is a ballistics expert who shot herself at the exact right angle to avoid death so that she could live a cushy life in Britain while denigrating everything that is wonderful about Pakistan such as the blowing up of girls’ schools). You see, barring the benevolent military that has never interfered in any elections, almost every other essential democratic organ worked in concert to push the PTI into a third place finish.
The judiciary and in particular the highly damaging Iftikhar Chaudhary, who Imran Khan had himself declared as a “saviour” of Pakistan and enjoyed close ties with, decided to about face from Imran Khan and throw his lot behind the ascendant PMLN. How the Supreme Court of the nation was involved in rigging has been left entirely unclear. After all images of sexagenarians in powdered wigs stuffing ballots while waving gavels about would be to difficult to swallow even for us (the same people that think the United States has been engineering earthquakes and floods in Pakistan from Alaska).
The other major actor in this “massive” “unprecedented” rigging was the Election Commission (EC). The Commission was headed by Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, a man Imran Khan himself praised for his integrity and what not. As it turns out the EC and Fakhru Bhai did Imran Khan well wrong and decided to rig the elections for the PMLN just because. Little evidence has been presented in explaining why the Election Commission would want to favour one particularly party over another. They just did. Out of the blue. No explanation required. Having praised the former Chief Justice and Fakhru Bhai to high heavens one would be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Khan might just be a poor judge of character if these two individuals decided to massively rig the elections against him.
Then there’s of course Geo News. The same dastardly channel that gave the PTI more coverage than another party in the run-up to the elections. These guys really didn’t want the PTI to be in power, because airing a populist PTI government’s position that would be lapped up by millions of viewers just wouldn’t rake in enough advertising revenue for them. The PTI claims that Geo declared the PMLN the winner of the election before the entirety of every ballot polled was counted. To this complain I would simply like to direct the PTI to just about EVERY OTHER DEMOCRATIC NATION where the media forecasts winners based on trends. I’m still waiting with bated breath for the moment when the Tehreek informs us that Geo vans filled with bogus votes were making the rounds in the Punjab.
Not to forget, apparently the Caretaker Government in Punjab was ready to do anything it could to make sure the PMLN won decisively in the province. The fact that Mr. Najam Sethi, the caretaker Chief Minister of the Punjab during the elections, was proposed by the PPP and not the PMLN clearly doesn’t matter. Per the PTI Mr. Sethi made “35 Punctures” (we, the populace at large are still unclear as to what these 35 punctures mean exactly) so that the party that did not propose him to be Caretaker CM; and with whom he had had an historical enmity ever since Nawaz Sharif had him ARRESTED, wins with great ease.
You see, these four malicious elements in concert with the PMLN worked to steal the PTI’s mandate. Of course the PMLN’s near 100 seat advantage over the PTI would have been eradicated instantly if every single imaginable force including The First Evil from Buffy hadn’t conspired to cost him this loss.
Now we find ourselves on the edge of the “Azadi March” (Azadi from what exactly? God, I hope its Azadi from further PTI marches.) The PTI has demanded that the Prime Minister step down and hold fresh elections. But why? Well because “massive” “unprecedented” rigging. No sitting government anywhere in the world should take such demands for resignation with any seriousness.
This is not to absolve the current Government’s performance, which has been largely listless. Additionally, the Government deciding to invoke Article 245 in Islamabad alone reeks of desperation and is a fundamentally idiotic move which makes them seem far more insecure than they really are. With a near two-thirds majority in parliament, the Government should utilize their political clout to position themselves more firmly rather than reacting and allowing the PTI to set the tenor of public discourse.
All that said, we already have a mechanism to address poorly performing governments. We generally refer to them as regularly scheduled elections. That the PTI is demanding mid-term elections on the back of evidence that Election Tribunals have found insufficient speaks solely to the damaging lust for power Imran Khan has found himself in. Part of it is messianic and part of it deeply cynical. Imran Khan believes he, and only he, can navigate the nation through the problems currently plaguing it. Imran Khan also finds himself in a politically amenable situation with a military that institutionally loathes the sitting Prime Minister and wishes to strike while he still can.
Let’s just think for a moment what happens if the Government gives in to the PTI’s sweeping, and frankly, damaging demands. The assemblies are dissolved, the Prime Minister steps down, and calls for fresh elections. A new caretaker set-up is established according to the regulations stipulated in the 18th Amendment. We hold fresh (and entirely unnecessary) elections on the 14th of November 2014.
Leading into these elections Imran Khan will convince his supporters that the PTI is on its way to a historic, “massive” “unprecedented” victory. The results of the elections come in, and with the PMLN somewhat damaged they manage to hold on to the Government. A support base that will only accept a sweeping victory will be left unsatisfied. Imran Khan with nowhere left to turn will again start street agitation condemning the elections as rigged as he has not attained his God-given right to the Prime Ministerial post.
As it stands, Imran Khan’s project is dangerous and will be harmful to the nation in both the short and long term. He should by all means be allowed to march onto the capital and hold his million (billion? TRILLION???) man march; but for him to have explicitly stated that his aim is the dissolution of the Government places him alongside all those Pakistanis in the past who have stunted popular political expression for their personal desire for power.
The PTI’s Deputy Information Secretary believes that the bodies involved in the May 2013 election rigging also include The United States, UAE, Saudi Arabia, MI-6, India, and Former COAS Ashfaq Kayani. It’s almost as though they WANT us to laugh at them.