The essence of one of Shahzad Roy’s famous song is that the time he started to understand the news, he has been observing that the leadership – both civilian and military – warns the people that Pakistan is going through the critical turning point of its history. Although the lyric writer seems to be sarcastic by mentioning it, however, if one looks at Pakistan’s history from its independence, this satire is not entirely wrong. After 1958, when the military establishment of Pakistan started taking interest in the governance issues, people of Pakistan saw generations of incompetent politicians who were created by the security establishment by injecting the corruption in the system to rule over the country and legitimize their power grab by hiding behind these characters. But whenever the Martial Law was lifted these “military built” politicians fill the leadership vacuum and due to their incompetence and inexperience they used to take wrong steps and for the big decisions, they used to look at the military instead of taking responsibility. When these leaders start learning and becoming mature, the establishment throws them out and start working with new set of subservient leaders from the local bodies or from the pool of political orphans. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – although a person with charismatic personality — was created by Generals, but when he became stronger and mature, he was hanged, and military decided to thrust someone meek and naïve like Nawaz Sharif in the top leadership role. When Nawaz became assertive, he was banished from the country and a new generation of pliant politicians who had been marching on their orders for next ten years was created. Assassination of Benazir Bhutto, however, changed the political land scape of the country and the establishment’s future plans to rule for five more years with another malleable leader as a Prime Minister — who boasted once that he will support the military dictator ten times in uniform – were sunk in the fiasco. After five years of fragile democracy, in which the elected government was kept under pressure by the activist Judiciary, some big media houses and the opposition, the Intelligence Agency tried to create another go-with-the-flow political force which consisted of all those characters who were the potential “leaders” for the people of Pakistan five years ago in a new political party, named as “Clean Party”. Unfortunately, those political orphans could not attract the crowds and miserably failed the new political designs. That point they supported the celebrity and a charmer – Imran Khan — who could easily bring the liberal moderates and the young women and men. Then, all the political orphans like Tareens, Chouhadries, Sheikh Rasheed and those who have their political ambitions and sensed the establishment’s tilt towards PTI joined this group.
The interesting part was that most of the advisors of Imran Khan are themselves political losers and could only achieve the high positions under strict military oversight. How one can expect they can guide Imran Khan in right direction. They convinced Imran Khan that he is going to sweep the general elections because of their belief in the establishment’s support to them. However, all their hopes and dreams broke when the PTI could achieve only 27 seats (total 34 seats with 27 general, 6 reserved and 1 minority) out of 264 seats of National Assembly contested on the Election Day. After the attack on Hamid Mir Imran Khan did not come out with any clear position for some time, but after the PML (N) government’s mishandling the situation created by the Geo TV which annoyed the military, Imran Khan saw another opportunity to come out to support the Army to get to their good books. On March 19, 2014, he was interviewing with Geo TV but by the end of May he came out against Geo TV and hurling allegations without providing any proof. He tweeted the part of EU Election Observation Report’s portion which in some way – in his view – proving that the Geo TV helped PML(N) to win the elections, although, careful analysis of the report reveals that Geo TV gave more coverage to PTI compared to other competitor channels.
Imran Khan is desperate as time is passing. It seems that Army and Nawaz Sharif’s relations are coming back to some normalcy. He has no answer to his supporters about why he is letting the military operation in North Waziristan go forward and not protesting against it, also the army, whom he wanted to make happy seems not too interested in his or Tahirul Qadri’s help. The Tahirul Qadri’s arrival and his constant media coverage which was making Imran Khan somewhat irrelevant is another reason of melancholy which was clear in his last speech at Bahawalpur, where he announced the long march to Islamabad and threatened the police that if they will stop or open fire on his supporters he will hang those policemen with his own hands. Khan’s claim that a United Nations Development Program election result gathering project was halted after Nawaz Sharif’s speech on May 11 last year is refuted by the UNDP official and the Election Commission which can go against Khan’s credibility problem, especially, after the fact the he could not prove his previous allegations vis-à-vis Najam Sethi, Geo News etc. Some analysts believe that he is heating up the political rhetoric just to stay in the media and divert attentions of his supporters from the Zarb-e-Azb. I personally do not see he will get even as many electoral gains which he made in 2013 even if the mid-term elections held, because a) the terrorists who in one way helped him having huge gains in KP by threatening and murdering ANP leadership and almost preventing them running any election campaign is weak and floundering b) people in KP have already understood that he is only talk and he cannot deliver, his party has already divided in three groups in Province and two groups in KP government and c) knowing the weak short term memories of masses, if there is an elections, People’s Party and Awami National Party will gain more seats than in the last elections which will hurt both PML(N) and PTI but PTI will have to sustain the significant brunt.
The PTI and its allies like Jamat-i-Islami, Sheikh Rasheed, Chouhadrys of Gujrat etc. – who rely on the establishment’s support to get to the power corridors in Islamabad — may be realizing now that although they could very well be the next favorite for the military establishment, but the way PTI and JI demonstrated the lack of governance in the KP, and the way their leadership – especially Imran Khan and JI top leaders — supported the terrorists who chopped the heads of soldiers and kicked those heads with their foots and spreading its videos, made the Army’s ranks and files extremely disappointed with them. Nawaz Sharif may not be considered by the establishment as the best choice to work with, but it seems at least at this stage military likes to move on with the current set up in which Imran Khan does not fit very well. Famous Canadian — and later US — economist, public official, the diplomat, and a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 that he believes that the, “politics is not the art of possible, it consists of choosing between the disastrous and unpalatable”.
Now if the Army would believe that Imran Khan’s long march will bring destabilization in the country which could cause problems in the military operation, it will scold him and force him to call off his long march, and then he will not have any choice but to take yet another U-turn, however, if Army would see that his long march will not bring any trouble they will let it go. In that condition, he may be able to bring the people and let them dispersed after some fiery speeches and show of force on the streets.
Instead of street protests politics and looking at the establishment to come to power, if the PTI leadership would pay more attention to the KP governance and proved their capabilities, PTI’s position would be much better than this. Still there is a time that Imran Khan began to put more attention to the people of KP and pressure the government in the parliament for the electoral reforms he will achieve much more and he will gain even more in the next general elections, however, if he would stay on the collision course with the government, Judiciary, now the police and media, no one will be the beneficiary and he will go in the history as an incapable and visionless leader who was responsible for the demise of democracy and freedom.