Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | File Photo: ImranKhanOfficial/Facebook
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | File Photo: ImranKhanOfficial | Facebook
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Of all the things that Pakistan has banned in the past – from YouTube to Facebook – the latest is the most bizarre. This time, a word has become public enemy. And the word is ‘selected’.

Actually, it all began last August when Imran Khan came to power with his Naya Pakistan slogan.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the opening session of parliament cheekily called Imran Khan “prime minister select” while congratulating him for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) win. Bhutto was hinting at the possibility of the establishment helping Imran Khan win. Ironically, Khan had even thumped the desk then.

On Monday, almost a year later, a rather emotional deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri banned using the phrase ‘selected prime minister’ for Imran Khan during the budget session. He said it was an insult to the entire parliament.

One would think that cricketer-turned-politician Khan sahib would want to wear that word on his sleeve, but his colleagues can now no longer utter it. So much for sportsmanship and some harmless sledging.

Also read: What Pakistani generals want from PM Imran Khan – career advancement

Joke to disaster

Opposition parties questioned the legitimacy of the ruling and termed it undemocratic, frivolous and a step towards censoring parliament.

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Bilawal Bhutto said that it was because of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “ego” that the word was banned.

Pakistanis – both in parliament and outside – have already found ways to bypass the ban.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N)information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb chose the word “handpicked” instead for the prime minister.

What was more or less an inside joke about Imran Khan being a “selected prime minister” has now become a joke beyond borders. The ban has reopened the debate of how he came to power rather than preserve Imran Khan’s image.

Or, is this a classic case of a guilty conscience?

The general elections of 2018 were widely criticised by the PPP and the PML-N. They accused the military of intimidating their political workers and engineering the election in Khan’s favour. Censorship of mainstream media didn’t give parties a level playing field either.

Also read: This is the one thing that Imran Khan, opposition & the religious clerics in Pakistan love

The umpire’s finger

‘Selected’ is not the only word Khan should get banned. His naysayers have often described his relationship with the military by calling him a “ladla” (favourite child), “ghost employee” or “nikkay da abba” (father of the young child). Back in the day, Khan himself had referred to the establishment as “umpire” and pre-empted how the umpire’s finger would go up against Nawaz Sharif.

To refer to the political manoeuvring by the military without getting into trouble, a creative set of terms was invented: “Farishtay” (angels), “khalai makhlooq” (aliens), “Selectors” or “mehkma-e-zarat” (Department of Agriculture).

To refer to the powerful men in uniform, terms such as “boys”, “boots” or “namaloom afrad” (unidentified people or known unknowns) are often used.

The etymology of mekhma-e-zarat is one of the most hilarious.

Rana Iqbal Siraj, a PML-N candidate from Punjab assembly in 2018, in a viral video, had alleged that he was tortured by the personnel of a secret agency over his refusal to return his ticket. Subsequently, a raid was conducted on his fertiliser godown. He later backtracked, apologising that he actually was not threatened by agencies, it was the mehkma-e-zarat (department of agriculture) that raided his facility. Since then the department of agriculture has become synonymous with security personnel.

Also read: Pakistan’s mysterious ‘agriculture department’ is plumbing to new depths of censorship

What is keeping Imran Khan up?

Historically, many political terminologies have been used for opponents in Pakistan’s parliament. “Mr 10 per cent” for Asif Ali Zardari, “Maulana Diesel” for Fazalur Rehman, “Sheeda Talli” for Sheikh Rashid’s over the top demeanour or “Lotta” to define turncoats. Those at the receiving end have always taken these terms with a pinch of salt and never asked for bans. After all, puns and metaphors are all that keeps ‘engineered’ assemblies alive.

Marred with economic crisis, incompetent governance, lack of vision and inability to deliver on the promises made to his constituents, the first year of the Imran Khan-led government has not gone well and the pressure seems to be getting the better of the PM.

Otherwise, why would Khan bother with who calls him what, knowing how he in his opposition days had called prime ministers and presidents dacoits, liars, cheaters and even cursed the same parliament that he is now the leader of.

Also read: Narendra Modi is ghosting Imran Khan. Letters, calls, messages go unanswered

Selected is elected

So, is Imran Khan a selected prime minister? Absolutely.

According to the dictionary, an election is “the act of choosing or selecting one or more from a greater number of persons, things, courses, or rights.”

Lahore High Court’s 2003 ruling on the subject follows the same theory. A selected prime minister is one who has been elected by parliament. Clearly, neither the speaker, the ruling PTI, nor the PM knows that.

Selected is elected. And Mr Prime Minister we all know what you think we didn’t know!

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

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8 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Whatever, as far as corruption is concerned seems Pakistan is on the right track and looks that Indian politicians are successful in making the people of India fool again and again with every election, and crony capitalists are looting the country.

  2. As often batting with tail enders is no mean task. Imran Khan seems like making sincere efforts to make a salvage but system is getting the better of him.

  3. We indians should mind our own business we too are not doing great in politics
    This is like a ugly person making joke of some one else personality.
    Well if few pakistanis are not happy with imran then in the entire world not every citizen is happy with their president or prime minister.
    Infact it’s time pakistani should support imran when they tolerated nawaz musharraf benazir in comparison imran is much better
    But any ways all countries have moron population

  4. Quite funny indeed, pakis ! India too is not far behind. LoL. Jai Shree Ram ! LoL. And out goes mamta bano at thw hustings. LoL. And the latest & best … orange jersey for indian cricketers is saffronisation. LoL. Strongly recommend green trousers, orange shirt and white shoes for indian cricketers. Happy rahul baba? You guys are as pathetic as the pakis! And indians like me enjoy pakis being trashed worldwide. Pakistan undoubtedly is a Terrorist & Hard Drugs State. I mean, paki establishment is the best in the World in spreading Terror & Hard Drugs! It matters little to them that in the bargain they are destroying themselves. They just dont care. Some people seriously claim that both imran & rahul use cocaine regularly. Well urine screen test should be conducted on both without notice. The World might get shocked. Not me! LoL


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