Pakistan has had both vicious and stupid rulers, but God save us from some combination of the two. With his homicidal statements, Imran Khan is proving to be just like the Taliban he apparently admires. At his latest rally in Bahawalpur on Friday, Khan threatened the government with a ‘million man’ march on the capital if his ‘demands’ are not met. Cashing in on the scandal caused by the Punjab police last week, he said that if the police mistreated or shot at his supporters in the march, he would “hang them with his own hands”. Accompanying this murderous threat, he listed four ‘demands’: why did Nawaz Sharif make a victory speech on the night of May 11, when election results were unconfirmed; who are the returning officers responsible to; what role did Najam Sethi play in election rigging, and last but not least, what role did former Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry play in manipulating the results of the elections. The latter two accusations (not demands) are in fact serious enough for the named parties to respond with defamation suits against Khan since he has not provided a shred of evidence to support his claims.
The only word left to describe Mr Khan now is ‘a petulant child’, a sad comedown from the hopeful days of last May. Evidence of his mental instability is overwhelming. It is a criminal offence to threaten to hang people, even the police! It is absurd pointing to Nawaz Sharif’s speech as proof that rigging occurred. Furthermore, in what can only be described as scraping the bottom of the barrel, Imran is also blatantly dishonest about the contents of the speech in which Sharif said, “Results are still coming in, but this much is confirmed we are the single largest party so far.” Al Jazeera reported on the night of May 11 that the PML-N was leading in 119 of 272 National Assembly seats. If confronted with this, Imran will probably say that Al Jazeera was also part of the rigging conspiracy! The fact is that by the night of May 11, the trends were relatively clear and the PML-N did not announce a victory, but expected one. Imran conceded defeat himself and congratulated Nawaz Sharif by the night of May 12. If he was so convinced his party was robbed, why did he acknowledge the results of the election or form the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (a question he avoids)? One could also ask Khan why on the night of May 11, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf workers from Rawalpindi were celebrating their victory in KP when they clashed with police and the incident was covered by the press. Following Imran’s logic, were his own workers part of a rigging plot? These holes in his argument more than imply that his current posture is driven by overweening ambition rather than principle.
The Khan rhetoric on display in Bahawalpur verged on the insane. Claiming that all opposition parties think the election was rigged, Khan has missed the fact that no other opposition party is with him. His threat to the police is criminal. It is not acceptable from the leader of a political party. However, Khan does not care what anyone thinks and he does not care about the country; he is convinced of his own rightness and willing to let the country suffer to prove it. He is too committed to this course of action now for any good sense to penetrate the egotism guiding his actions. The country is fighting a war, but one he does not believe in, and so he is willing to sacrifice its future to be proved right, and the devil take the facts or ground realities. Khan may take himself down, that is his right, but his current course could take innocent people down with him too, and that is unacceptable. Wake up Imran Khan, the country is in a tough situation and the need of the hour is clarity. Instead of spending on futile expensive rallies and stretching the resources of the state in protecting him and his supporters, Imran should work for the welfare of the people of KP who elected his party. *
If we thought the sweat-ridden hours of power outages in the summer were trying, we were indulging ...