Imran’s Independence MarchIt is a crucial question, will Imran’s Independence March bring any change in the country? Imran has shown intention of leading an Independence March (Azadi March) towards Islamabad on 14th August and estimating that 10 million people will participate in the demonstration. The fact is that none of the parties have a capacity to gather 10 million people on the street, though they claim to do so. He is steering this protest on the grounds that there was a massive rigging in the elections 2013. This article will briefly discuss his complaint and the fears behind holding this protest procession.

During the elections 2013, he, genuinely or erroneously, developed the hope that he would be ruling federal and two provincial government: Punjab and Khyber PuktoonKhawa (KPK). The major premise  of this belief was large and successful public meetings in different cities. Despite, successful meetings, it is a fallacy to gauge elections results from these public meetings because attendees come from different part of the country and constituencies. After the elections, Imran’s political party Tahreek-e-Insaf ended up as a majority party only in KPK and formed a coalition government. Since he managed to form a government, he showed little reservation regarding rigging in KPK.

An interesting issue is how he and his party performed in the KPK province. So far, the ground reality is that he hardly performed in KPK and did not live up to his election promises.  As the reports show, there is hardly any change in political culture or style of governance in KPK, though he and his sympathizers are not ready to accept.

The party allocated 3 out of 6 women seats to the relatives of the current Chief Minister of the province and this practice is no different to any other province. On the public education issue, interestingly, he is campaigning for donations instead of finding the financial means through the budget. Imran has not taken any concrete action to increase revenue of the province except blaming the federal government. Provinces have their own means to generate finances and they do not solely dependent on the grants of the federal government. To generate finances indeed needs a robust planning, sincere implementation and control on corruption. However, he and his provincial regime are neither willing nor able to control corruption, which is the foundation to bring real change in Pakistan. There are no media reports, which show that the level of corruption has decreased in the province.

So far, the performance of PTI government is no different than the federal or any other provincial governments. The only difference might be his image and sloganized politics in which he is being portrayed as a hero and others are as villains. He and his supporters are unwilling and incapacitate to evaluate the performance in KPK.

It seems, the poor performance in KPK is one of the key reasons that Imran and his key party leadership have decided to take up the 2013 rigging so vigorously to divert the attention of people. The issue is not vigorous as Imran Khan’s Tahrik-e-Insaf claims. First, it is ridiculous to think that rigging was so massive that his party could not get in power in the center and Punjab. It is a stunt like 1977 when the opposition started a protest against the Bhutto’s government, claiming that the elections were rigged. At the later stage, however, they accepted that elections were rigged only on a few seats, which would have not restricted Bhutto to form the government. However, the protest gave opportunity to General Zia-ul-Haq to topple down the democratic regime, which put Pakistan 20 years behind. Second, Pakistan’s problems cannot be linked to rigging in elections.

The real problem of Pakistan is corruption, which has been steeped in all layers of the state and society. Imran’s premises, free and fair election will resolve all real issues, is completely erroneous and unacceptable, for India is a good example in this context. Many politicians accept, including Imran, Indian elections are overall free and fair, and despite free and fair elections the level of corruption and other social ills have not been reduced. It is unimaginable, what has not worked in India how would it work for Pakistan?

The real move behind the protest is that Imran and his party fear that they may not be able to win the next elections, not even in KPK, on the basis of performance in the province, thus they decided to create a political hype, forthwith, to improve their chances of winning if they manage to force the government for holding fresh mid-term elections. They are following the old tradition of the 50s and 90s, pulling legs of the sitting government, without realizing that it could turn the table of democracy.

Imran will be living in another world that if he thinks that if the situation gets worse, the army will offer him power in a plate. Imran’s acolytes and supporters are acting in such a way as they are the sole popular party and Nawaz and Zardari exist nowhere – such a thinking is mere a folly. If Imran has emotional and sentimental supporters, so do Nawaz and Zardari. If he can bring 10 million people on the street, so do the Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. Any average intelligent person can perceive, what will happen if parties’ supporters are on the street – a complete chaos. His move is, in fact, unwise and premature.

He has not appreciated, if the Nawaz government manages to decrease the hype and does not hold mid-term elections, he will be relegated in politics; it is very unlikely that he could keep the hype and momentum for the next 4 years. He has unwittingly put himself in a ‘do or die’ situation; otherwise he could simply concentrate on the performance in KPK and raise the same hype just a year before the elections, which will certainly bring him fruitful results.

If he is so convinced that he can bring positive change in Pakistan and have the ability to lay a foundation of ‘New Pakistan’ he should start immediately with KPK, which will give him grounds to eradicate old corrupt faces, such as Nawaz and Zardari, of politics. So far, his face is a mere an addition of old political faces without any real change. If he really believes in, he should perform in KPK and try to make a model province on which others can emulate. Similarly, his political party culture is still not very different from any other party. The same feudal and rich class is controlling the major affairs of the party.

The article is by no means supporting the rule of Nawaz and Zardari, but arguing that they cannot be removed from the political scene by political hypes. If martial law introduces, Imran will be sitting with the same forces to restore democracy as he did in the past when Musharraf was in power.

Of course, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif had not shown political wisdom in handling the issue of Imran and Tahir-ul-Qadir, which raises further questions on their leadership. It is completely nonsense to call military to control the protest. If they cannot control one party by political means, what can be expected from them? It is strange that they acted like a scared cat in the case of Canadian Mullah Tahir-ul-Qadri who has hardly political backing in the country. It seems that Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Shareef are ignorant of Pakistan history and hardly learnt lesson from 50s and 90s politics. The governance of Nawaz in the center and Shahbaz in Punjab is poor and they are acting like ‘emperors without clothes’.

Uploaded 27 July 2014

Nadeem Yousaf

 Imran’s Independence March, 2014