Monday, 3 October, 2022
HomeOpinionLetter From PakistanEven Lahore smog is better than Imran Khan. His lovers are now...

Even Lahore smog is better than Imran Khan. His lovers are now singing of ‘toote sapne’

The opinion-makers in Pakistani media who initially supported Imran Khan, are in confessional mode saying, “sorry yaar, galti se mistake ho gayi”.

Text Size:

The season of smog is here, so is the season of confessions. At least that’s what it seems. Like an annual ritual, the whispers are becoming louder. This time they’re saying that the relationship between Rawalpindi and Bani Gala is growing “complicated”. Some would say the winds of change are blowing, others would be seen giving clichéd: mulk iska mutahmil nahi ho sakta (country can’t afford this change). As if anything is affordable these days. Soon there will be ministers vouching that their king is going nowhere, but that’s the dilemma when you’re holding a King in a deck of Jokers.

What signals toward the change of hearts? On the surface, it’s the prevalent inflation and three years of sheer incompetence (and whatnot) but in the heart of hearts, it was the prime minister Imran Khan’s delay in appointing the spy chief, which has led to all the speculation. From political allies sending mixed signals of finding it “hard to support the government” to last week’s joint parliamentary session being postponed because the ruling party lacked numbers to legislate, they were enough to fuel the “change-is-coming” fire. In the name of tabdeeli, this is where we are at, waiting for a change to undo the tabdeeli.

Also Read: Imran Khan mixing religion and politics won’t turn Pakistan into welfare Madina

Evolution of the Imran Khan project

Not too long ago, project Imran Khan promised a change from the “corrupt”, “deceitful” Sharifs and Zardaris. The October 2011 public rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore was seen as a rebirth of the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The grand show brought in a crowd of more than a hundred thousand by some estimates, while the message remained on point: the tabdeeli is needed, along with whipped cream of anti-America rants. It was not unexpected, however, given this was a period after the Abbottabad raid by the United States that killed Osama bin Laden and the war on terror was still reigning. Still, many wondered how Imran Khan gathered such a substantive crowd. Just like how any political gain is made in Pakistan, with the help of ‘umpires’ who would later become Khan’s ‘selectors’.

By 2011, Khan’s party had just one seat in the National Assembly, which it had won in the 2002 election. This came after the then-president General Pervez Musharraf offered him 10 seats as a counter to Khan’s demand for a 100. He then boycotted the 2008 election. Khan’s first election in 1997 also did not make for a great showing. He lost all nine seats he contested, losing the deposit on seven seats. The tabdeeli finally began with the 2013 elections, where PTI was the third party with 32 seats in the national legislature. From there on, project Imran Khan was watered, given air and light to be taken seriously as the “third option”. In 2018, his wish was granted. The “third way” was given a chance to run the country after an election marred by pre-poll rigging, muzzling of the media and intimidation of political opponents.

Ten years after the reincarnation and 39 months since being put in the seat as prime minister, clueless is the adjective best used to describe both Imran Khan’s government and those who cheered him on. Khan owes his success to the mainstream media who gave ball-to-ball coverage of his dharnas and helped him build a narrative of ‘Naya Pakistan’. There were those in the media who built hype over Khan’s promise that “the best days of Pakistan are going to come” — get on the bandwagon Pakistanis or you may miss your ride. And what a ride it has been.

Also Read: Gen Bajwa can bet on Pakistan’s divided politics. Imran Khan’s defiance will lead to nothing

The vanishing cabinet

Look at the delusions of grandeur that Khan maintains with a  “team of professionals”, which has been working as a shadow cabinet. Wait till they come and blow your mind off. Looks like the shadow cabinet, which was preparing for 26 years, is still in the shadows. The “professional” faces in PM’s team have been Fawad Chaudhry, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the others he borrowed from Zardari and Musharraf cabinets. The claims of in-house Mahathir who would fix the economy, the Aristotles who knew everything, experts on international relations who were to rid Pakistan of foreign policy woes still haven’t shown up. Unless, the shadow team members planned for Modi and Biden phone call woes. Then it is a plan well executed. So was it all a hoax then?

Today, the very same Aashiqan-e-Imran or the opinion-makers in the media are in confessional mode saying, “sorry yaar galti se mistake ho gayi”. We thought Imran Khan’s leadership was visionary, but it turns out it is hazier than Lahore’s smog. He was charismatic, charming, honest, confident and it reminded us of our youth. Now, who can deny that when in love, even the Germany-Japan border feels real. You can’t crucify people over their stupidity to fall in love with the wrong people. It happens all the time. Khan not reciprocating with unconditional love has forced these jilted lovers to say that Khan can only love himself, he’s no one’s friend, and he only worships himself. Be wary of the wrath of the exes, Khan Sahib. So in their testimonials, they seem to be repenting for having put their faith in their 1992 World Cup-winning captain and driving their audiences to a car crash. Once they ate gulab jamuns over the defeat of Khan’s supporters in TV studios, now they complain of unfulfilled promises. Those promises of a revolution, of bringing back Pakistan’s billions of dollars that were “stolen”, of one crore jobs, and finding gas and oil resources have suddenly vanished. Now the ex-lovers say they’re depressed because “chan se jo toote koi sapna” and their worlds are crushed.

People may argue that this confessional film of ‘Naya Pakistan’ isn’t genuine and is being enacted. Or that it is now time to jump the Titanic, onto the next ship. Whatever you want to make of it, my only query remains for the selectors, the followers, the heartbroken cheerleaders: how are you enjoying this change?

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular