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PTI leaders are jumping off Titanic. But Imran Khan’s mantra is death over ghulami

Finding it hard to defend attack on military-owned houses, PTI leaders are running, saving and disassociating themselves from Imran Khan.

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When the going gets tough, the tough get going is now the official slogan of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan and associates. The running away from court premises to avoid arrest, jumping from the Titanic as it hit the iceberg and saying alvida to politics and all is the culmination of the 2023 war of independence. That golden era of tough talk and ‘absolutely not’ is now replaced with begging to the United States of America and the army chief of Pakistan.

All Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders tried to convince the world and themselves for 14 months that they are waging jihad against their political opponents, the establishment both local and international. We were told it was a war between good and evil. Then it all changed. The bigger their slogan was the sooner they surrendered. After the 9 May attacks on the government and military structures, 45 (and counting) PTI leaders have left the party and Imran Khan. This includes some former ministers and key members of Khan’s kitchen cabinet. Pakistan’s minister of information and broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, minister of human rights Shireen Mazari, finance minister Asad Umar relinquishing party titles,  information minister Punjab Fayyazul Hassan Chohan and minister national health services Aamir Kiani are in the pool. PTI’s wickets are falling like autumn leaves.

Runaway mujahids

Fawad Chaudhry who danced to the tune of hum cheen ki lenge azadi, tera baap bhi dega azadi realised after a couple of days in jail that Father’s Day is close and perhaps a good time to kiss and makeup with his political ‘godfather’. Shireen Mazari who cooked all kinds of conspiracy theories convincing Pakistanis that her leader Imran Khan was ousted from office in a regime change operation led by the US, Israel, India and 99 others, has left his side. While Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, the vilest of all these chosen men of Khan, had a long list of complaints against his leader who left him when he was in jail and his family faced a crackdown. Now he is also revealing how Imran Khan sent the party workers for recce earlier to the same venues that were burnt on 9 May.

The traditional politicians of Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and many others take pride in the jail time they served of not days but months and years in military and hybrid dictatorships. They drive home with anecdotes of suffering at the hand of the state in shahi qilas, yet never desert their parties and leaders. And the latest examples are from Imran Khan’s reign where the leaders from PPP, PMLN have spent amongst them thousand days in jail facing the harshest of sentences from life imprisonment to death penalty.

It is telling how the PTI leaders who egged on, jeered and shamed political opponents facing state persecution couldn’t hang in there for even 30 days. The same people who were blaring azadiinquilab every day, twice a day showed a sorry-we-cannot-take-it attitude. They all realised at once that they are sick, they have children, they are old, all they want is mineral water, they find it hard to use a desi toilet, they can’t live without an air conditioner and they are unfit for any kind of rebellion. Maybe Khan never told his leaders that road to a revolution isn’t a bed of roses.

When Khan as the leader of this great movement, sitting in an 18-degree AC room, is only interested in saving himself and his wife, why on earth will the others be motivated to remain in prison? It was one thing to be tweeting and making TikToks but those jumping ship tell us their ‘causes’ aren’t tangible and, to be fair, not worth the trouble. Conviction to any cause isn’t in their khameer or disposition because with parties, their causes change too. Who wants to fight their creators?

Given how PTI shot to power from once being a tonga (horse cart) party, it hardly comes as a shock how their leader is being deserted. After 2011, the party became an overzealous reconstruction of successive ISI chiefs who saw it as their own party. They had the remote control to the what, where and how of PTI’s politics. Khan was theirs and so were the politicians rented to him. Today, they are deserting the party, condemning 9 May attacks, “we preach non-violence,” “we had nothing to do with people who burnt the corps commander’s house in Lahore.” The biggest takeaway from events unfolding today is that the hand that rocks the cradle can ruin your world. Pakistan’s history will show you it’s not a new lesson.

Also read: Imran Khan’s arrest in Pakistan proof the Army has won. But silencing him won’t help govt

Taste of social boycott

In the war of narratives, there is another surrender. What began with the American conspiracy of diplomat Donald Lu sending a cipher to the man who proclaims hum koi ghulam hain aapke, has now ended up with Khan grovelling US congresswoman Maxine Moore Waters to help him. Why? Because “it creates waves in Pakistan” when someone from the US speaks. So, it is best to forget how US President Joe Biden was unhappy over Khan’s Russia visit on the eve of the Ukraine attack, also that an entire vote of no confidence was done away with based on the same conspiracy. After declaring political opponents as traitors, the same conspiracy was cited to dissolve the national assembly on 3 April last year. Please forget all that because now Khan needs America. The biggest casualty here is your common sense.

Finding it hard to defend why PTI workers and leaders would attack the military-owned houses, the party leaders are running, saving and disassociating themselves from Khan. The PTI chief wanted to annihilate his opponents with calls such as no one will marry their children and bullying the schoolkids of rivals. Now things have come to such a pass that people he calls don’t answer and those he wants to meet aren’t interested anymore.

One hate speech inciting violence by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain, “Pakistan murdabad”, was enough to dismantle his entire party. PTI’s end might be worse for Khan actions speak louder than his words. The government loud-thinking a ban on PTI might not be as potent as the fleeing members in the dozens. Being lost in oblivion is worse than ban or jail for PTI chairman.

Inspired by Donald Trump’s capitol hill attacks, watching Ertugrul Ghazi series, again and again, doesn’t mean that you try your hand at insurrection and claim innocence once you fail. All this while your gullible followers languish in jail, some will even face military trials and all the wisdom left to share on Twitter Spaces is: Mar jao, ghulami ki zindagi se maut achi. Die, death is better than living like a slave. Till death do us apart is not what the fleeing PTI leaders believe.

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

(Edited by Ratan Priya)

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