Mullah Do Piyazas and Birbals jeopardizing Imran Khan’s political persona
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Sir Winston Churchill once said: “There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hope soon to be swept away”. This quote from former British Prime Minister and Second World War hero applies to Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan who believed that on May 25, a Tsumani of people would sweep away that come in the way of his party’s Azadi March.
In his earlier speeches, Imran Khan claimed that 20 lakh supporters of his party would assemble in the federal capital, the figure that he increased to 30 lakhs two days before the march. But to his dismay, the PTI could not manage, at any stage, more than 15,000. It was reduced to a meagre 5,000 by the time that marchers reached Islamabad.
His anger with the party leadership over the failure to mobilise supporters is well founded. The PTI did not engage in any political activity in Sindh offering the excuse of having not enough time to prepare for such a protest march. Imran Khan expected that people would pour out in larger than ever numbers on their own as was the case soon after his government was ousted through the vote of no-confidence.
Inside PTI sources confided to this scribe that Imran Khan unleashed his tantrums mainly over Punjab party elites which have 83 elected members of the National Assembly and 158 members of the Punjab Provincial Assembly and yet could not manage a few hundred party supporters to join the march towards Islamabad. Only Yasmin Rashid and Andleeb Abbass put up a little hostile demonstration near Shahdara across the River Ravi bridge.
The argument being offered by the PTI’s stalwarts is that a proposal was initiated to the party Chairman to extend the Azadi March date to arrange transport and logistics. Nothing was clear regarding their stay in Islamabad and the provision of food to the protestors. In their view, the party Chairman was in a haste to announce May 25 as the date for Azadi March even though earlier he had announced that the date would be between May 25 and May 29. But Imran Khan’s close advisers told him that if the date is delayed, the government would have enough time to take effective measures to stop the marchers to come out from different districts.
The fact that the PTI have major support only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where protestors could bear the heatwave and police torture while in other provinces, particularly in Punjab majority of party supporters belonged to the posh families who could not brave police tear-gassing, lathi-charge and yet try to reach the capital city.
Some party leaders recalled that in 2014, the situation was entirely different when activists of Allama Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik made the Dharna last 126 days and put up a successful show.
Having gone through the May 25 Azadi March hassles, when the Supreme Court came out to help Imran Khan’s face-saving allowing the marchers to be allowed to enter Islamabad. Having been known for being very stubborn, the PTI Chairman ended the protest by announcing that he would give six days to the government to come out with a date for fresh general elections.
Subsequent events proved that the PTI Chairman was only pressurising the government being fully aware that his party would not be in a position to assemble a huge crowd to re-launch the Azadi March.
One could not blame Imran Khan for making such hefty claims about bringing a human Tsunami to Islamabad because his Mullah Do Piyazas and Birbals made him believe the entire nation was dying to storm the roads on his call. These include Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umar, Sheikh Rashid, Shabaz Gill, Murad Saeed, Shahryar Afridi, Chief Minister KPK Mahmood Khan, Ali Zaidi, Faisal Vawda, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Imran Ismail. These all made Imran Khan live in a dream world with no touch of ground realities.
The last-ditch effort by Imran Khan to invite PTI founding member Hamid Khan to consultations is a good omen. But one is sure that the vicious circle around Imran Khan would again conspire to keep people like Hamid Khan and Najeeb Haroon away from the party chief. Hamid Khan, in a statement on Monday, said he had advised the PTI Chairman to get rid of those people who had let down the party and its chief in the backdrop of Azadi March and during the three and a half years tenure of his government.
Now Imran Khan is caught up in a dilemma of what to do to get the party sail through the current crisis. His credibility as an honest and clean man declared by the then chief justice of the Supreme Court, Saqib Nisar is largely at stake. Cases of corruption are being initiated against him and his spouse and his narrative of the United States-led foreign conspiracy to topple his government through a vote of no-confidence is fast losing ground.
On the other hand, his oft-repeated claim that Russia was willing to sell petrol to Pakistan at 30 per discounted rates has also been negated by the Russian Ambassador in his recent interview. The scenario for Imran Khan is grim and he needs to do something fast before it is too late.
To start with, as suggested by Hamid Khan, he should start shunting those leaders who had joined him based on their agenda and not the party ideology and bring forth dedicated and loyal party workers who have rendered sacrifices in furthering Imran Khan’s political agenda.
Khan Sahib you have to chin up and do what needs to be done. The PTI is the third-largest political party in Pakistan. Pick up genuine workers and re-launch as people of Pakistan still pin hopes on your person.