ISLAMABAD: What cuts more sorry a figure? Democratic forces behaving undemocratically or undemocratic elements feigning to be the custodians of democracy?
Eyebrows are bound to pop out of the sockets seeing Imran Khan’s longstanding love for democracy dying an unnatural death. Following Tahirul Qadri’s footsteps, Khan too discovers in him a reformer who is out to overhaul the system riding the tides of anarchy. The PTI chief’s upcoming engagements that draw inspiration from Qadri’s ‘revolutionary’ tendencies make a 180-degree deviation from his pro-democracy statements from the past.
Just before last year’s general polls, the former cricketer’s deep-rooted love for democracy and his vocal statements in support of the continuity of the democratic process were the word on the street. The massive spotlight Imran Khan attracted, courtesy his lively and seemingly endless public processions in pre-poll days — to unnerve his political foes — thousands and thousands of PTI supporters counting on him — and segments of middle class welcoming their newly found messiah — all synched well in coherence for the PTI Khan before the ballots.
It was only after Khan could not have his political wishes — to form a government at the Centre — translated in actuality that the flames of revolt began to show — in post-May 11, 2013 period. Right from the onset, it was always about the four electoral constituencies. The same constituencies that appeared to light with PTI’s demand of thumbprints verification but have become an ego issue, a matter of life and death for Khan’s party, thanks to the ruling lot’s stone-cold indifference and inaction. Reasonably, for a tall-statured political figure like Khan, things get too insulting when a genuine and harmless demand as pertinent as revising the electoral procedures in a handful of electoral constituencies falls on deaf ears.
Plainly said, this kind of slumber is obvious to attract repercussions. Plus, the rulers’ reluctance to respond to the PTI’s demand only added credence to Khan’s allegations that something really ‘fishy’ was being swept under the carpet for all the wrong reasons. For indifference, that too, when it comes from the mightiest power corridors, shall not go unrewarded. Especially when stakes are too high to meet a retreat.
But, in the very first place, can alleged foul play in four constituencies merits enough substance to pull audacities as attempting to wrap up the entire democratic arrangement? What else a purpose does the PTI’s long march call of August 14 serve? Doesn’t this kind of boorish and temperamental disposition bring Khan at par with a ‘chain’ anarchist like Qadri? Shall Qadri and Khan not be equated as two facets of the same coin—two feathers of a bird —or birds of a feather that flock together?
Being an elected public representative who is the torch-bearer of a major political player in Pakistan, it sinks far below the dignity of Imran Khan to earn motivation from Qadri’s apolitical gimmickry . The hollow notions of spineless revolution the fame-hungry cleric boisterously professes omen well for him and not for Khan, the politician. And when inane articulations mark PTI chief’s speeches — political hue and cry — cribbing and crying — are but justified. For elected politicians can never rise above accountability. But, for Qadri, it’s different. Bottled up in his self-centred egoistic notions and nurtured on the blind faith of his mureeds, the cleric is on a joyride for quite sometime. Probably growing weary of his overdone orations that stereotype the same emotional religio-political references, Qadri is out for a change — to try something different — more lethal this time.
On a blunt note, what could be better than a deal for a cleric who was once a paid prayer-leader at a mosque administered by the father of a ruling royalty and who spent decades professing self-proclaimed nobility and far-fetched prophecies. For a day-dreamer like him, fame is an unquenchable thirst. Not to forget that such novel characters who used religion as a shield to have their petty purposes served often appeared in different epochs of history to stir some short-lived roar — in want of their misguided premonitions — only to vanish in the wilderness of past. These creatures met their eventual fate when not paid any heed to. They say isolation and lack of appreciation make the worst nightmare for a performer!
Tahirul Qadri’s precedent should be an eye-opener for overly ambitious Imran Khan. The food for laugh Qadri offers to 180 million Pakistanis on a habitual basis is not what Khan has to subscribe to. There are far better political ways for Khan to meet his dearest and age-old dream of embracing the premiership than pulling the student-leader like stunts that may best suit a teenager but they do not match, in any way, the grace and stature of a 60-year old. Political expectations apart, the last thing we need at the moment from the PTI Khan is to stop playing apolitical and behave! At least there has to be a method to the madness.
LAHORE – Former president and co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari ...