Can Imran Khan Create a Naya Pakistan?

Can Imran Khan Create a Naya Pakistan?
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AYAZ NABI MALIK & MOHD ASIF SHAH

Pakistan has always been in global limelight for reasons galore. The irony is that the more it was challenging for Alama Iqbal and the Muhammad Ali Jinnah to create Pakistan against all odds, the more difficult it was for their successors to live upto the expectations and ideals of its founders. Unfortunately they failed them most of the times. This state was created to ensure peaceful and harmonious coexistence between the majority and the minority of its population. The aim was to make Pakistan a model for the Muslim nations across the world. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides for a democratic way of government elected through popular vote. But this process has always suffered at the hands of the political and its military establishments who are in constant see-saw power battle. (Pertinent to mention here is that militaristic interventions have had their own context). This has caused the democratic set up a huge dent and set back and thereby raised the global and regional eyebrows vis-à-vis its functioning and repercussions on the geo-political scenario.
Names like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and others always take rather usurp the forefront on Pakistan’s political stage since they maintained a strong dynastic-cum-political hegemony on the entire governing political system of the country. Right from its birth, Pakistan faced the problems of poverty, illiteracy, diseases, unemployment, political instability, economic and terror threats. And, unfortunately, successive regimes left no stone unturned in further aggravating these problems and thereby shattering the dream of Alama Iqbal and the Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
They brought the state of Pakistan to the verge of failure, economic bankruptcy, political instability, and near-extinction from the global scene. Against this backdrop, Pakistan and its people were in desperate need of a leader who would reclaim the Pakistani Dream. Although Pakistan is infamous for some bad things, however, it is the mother and home to some extraordinary brains who possess extraordinary wit and talent. From among this lot was born a talent who first struggled his way on the cricket ground as a player for Pakistan. After facing initial hiccups on the field, he almost gave it up only to be raised back by the urge to serve his people by leading Pakistan to its maiden World Cup victory in 1992. Then, a philanthropist was born in this champion when he founded the Showkat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Karachi in 1994. This champion with the urge to work and contribute for the betterment of his nation, that was anxiously waiting for a champion like him, entered formally into politics after founding the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in 1996. This great is one and only one Imran Khan.
forces which had already seized the political chessboard of Pakistan continued to dominate elections in Pakistan and Khan’s debutant PTI couldn’t even open its account. Like the initial setbacks in his cricketing career, Khan also faced the same in his political career, but he withstood these challenges with firm determination. During these long years, he tried to construct and organized his party by attracting like-minded voices to join him. Though Imran Khan’s PTI won 27 National Assembly seats in the 2013 General Elections, however, he was far away from replacing the dynastic regimes of the Sharifs and the Bhuttos. During all these years under their respective governments, Pakistan continued to slip down in terms of economy, security, education, technology, trade and so on.
The PTI came on the political scene of Pakistan more as an idea and alternative to do away with the misgovernance and exploitation of Pakistan by the hegemonic powers both at the federal and the provincial levels. In this regard, Khan vociferously fought against corruption, nepotism, misgovernance, dictatorial governance, poverty, unemployment and so on across the whole nation. He even extended his support to General Parvaiz Musharraf’s 1999 coup believing that the latter would “end corruption, clear out political mafias” from Pakistan.
For the first time, this charismatic cricketer-turned politician started to be reckoned with as a strong rival on the fast-changing political stage of Pakistan when his party won 27 National Assemblies seats out of 272 in 2013. PTI ended the third largest party in terms of seats won. From here on , Khan and his team never looked back and through their strong and vibrant opposition and protests, they formed a strong political foothold, giving a tough time to those forces which were looting and outraging the Pakistan Dream.
PTI under the captainship of Imran Khan conducted innumerable mass rallies and programmes across the nation to mobilize people against corrupt regimes. The Kaptaan himself led from the front to reach out and listen to the poor and the neglected sections of their society living across the frontier of Pakistan. During this process, he continued to strive hard to highlight the money which was stashed outside and overseas, hence draining the economic chest of Pakistan and benefiting other countries. Further, Khan kept on exposing the hegemonic hands which were the main players in weakening and destabilizing Pakistan politically and economically both at the national and the international levels.
In this hot pursuit, he took legally and politically head on with PML(N) chief Nawaz Sharif. The Panama Leaks and several other allegations against Nawaz and his family gave Imran Khan reasons to drag the matter to the strong Court of law of Pakistan to finally get him convicted and thereby disqualified as PM in April, 2018. This simply vindicated PTI’s stance and subsequently it gained a lot of public support across Pakistan. Khan and his comrades did not stop here as their goals are larger and more expansive. Then they eyed the upcoming 2018 General Elections to the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies and believed this was a rare opportunity to eschew and outclass the dynastic and corrupt forces. He continued to give sleepless nights to Nawaz’s successor, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Meanwhile the elections drew near and Imran Khan and his team started strong campaigning for what they called Naya Pakistan (t New Pakistan), where accountability, austerity, good governance, pro-poor policies and friendly relations with neighbouring countries could be the order of the day and would liberate the people of Pakistan from the clutches of misgovernance, corruption, anti-poor policies and so on.
Against this backdrop, the 2018 General Elections in Pakistan started gaining global attention and it was a litmus test for Imran Khan to prove his mettle through the ballot. When the historic 25 July, 2018 polling day was over and the subsequent counting began to show early trends, Imran’s PTI emerged as the leading party, leaving the PML(N), PPP and others trailing far behind. Amid several allegations of rigging of the polls by several political parties, Imran delivered a live video address as a would-be Prime Minister of Pakistan, wherein he summarily outlined the various issues and challenges faced by Pakistan and expressed his vision to overcome them. He emphasized upon the need and desire to make Pakistan an Islamic Welfare State and also offered a sincere friendship gesture to India to peacefully resolve the long-pending issue of Kashmir. Despite the address being in Urdu, it was telecast live by the BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera TV networks, which signified the importance of the speech and the results.
Imran Khan sought a clear support and mandate from his people and they equally reciprocated by giving him a strong vote to walk his talk. Now would begin the actual test of Imran Khan asand when he takes the reins of the government in Pakistan. He will have to address and redress the umpteen domestic issues and challenges and also to strengthen the image of Pakistan on the global front. Since he has already proved his worth and leadership acumen in the cricketing field by leading from the front as a strong player, we can expect and pin our hopes on him to deliver. Although the political field is a far different and difficult game than cricket, yet we can dare say that the charisma and integrated appeal of this legend will and should enable him to restore the strife torn nation to its glory. The idealist in Imran Khan is going to take the guard to fulfill his ideal’s (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) dream around the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day.

The authors are from Pulwama and are working as Subject-Specific Teachers of English in the School Education Department. Kashmir. They can be reached at: ayazenglish.ku@gmail.com & khushasif25@gmail.com