Open Letter to PM Imran Khan: It’s a good time to take U-Turn!
Mr. Prime Minister,
I’ve been your supporter throughout your journey to the path, on the way of which you faced many highs and lows, whose culmination in 2018 only decided the worthiness of your journey.
I voted for you in the 2013 election, hoping for change but was depressed by the status quo following the results. In the by-election in our constituency, I voted for your party again, even though I realized the futility of time and the vote that served more to register my protest against the existing system than in the hope of any real change.
But when the change came in 2018, it was like coming to senses after getting married following a prolonged amorous relationship!
Or perhaps, the expectations were too high from you and the party whose standard I had been bearing since the time when your vehicle could boast spaciousness for your whole party-members.
But these are different times and situations, and I’m not here to register my political disillusionment as there is another fish to fry, i.e., the coronavirus.
Before broaching this, one thing more for your partial relief that I still nurture some hope in you. Maybe, all the love has not lost yet.
At least, since 2007, I had been wishing to see you as prime minister, before realizing as my political consciousness increased gradually that as the agent of change, you should have assumed a greater role than a chief executive. At least, this was my feeling to see you patronizing one of your party members, like Asad Umer.
Still, it is fair enough that you’re here as the leader of the country to serve us; and the best thing is that your critics cannot blame you for corruption or any other significant mala fide intention that could harm the country.
But making the right decision, howsoever tough or unpopular it might be, is one of the essential traits a leader of your stature needs to have.
Mostly, your critics blame you for changing decisions abruptly, a euphemism for taking U-turns, which I remain shy saying out of respect.
During my days, I used to adore you as a political idol and stayed on backfoot whenever your critics complained to me about your sudden changes in decisions. As an apologist, I would make one excuse or another to make it square with my politically diversified friend or family member.
But on this occasion, I would be proud of you if you take a U-turn on your most recent decision of moderating lockdown.
Mr. Prime Minister, we know the coronavirus is not going anywhere, but hearing it from you in the same breath you suggest the softening of the lockdown, is the fundamental reason leading me to write this letter.
In fact, all said above was a prelude to the following few sentences.
You said you cannot ban people from going to mosques. But do you know, you won’t be the first Muslim leader of the Muslim world to do so if you do so.
From Malaysia to Turkey, including Saudi Arabia, all have explicitly banned religious congregations in order to stop the spread of the infection. Their governments took decisive steps in the larger public interest, and in the context of the pandemic, interest should be considered as synonymous with survival. Why you took exception?
I know the dynamics of Pakistan’s politics and realize the administrative decisions have their political repercussions.
But it’s not the time for politics, is it?
You might be fearing a political backlash if you enforce banning mosques. Maybe, you think opposition parties could use it to deepen a general misperception that you represent a specific country’s interests whose travel is not allowed through the national passport.
But I think you’re bigger than these trivialities of fearing any personal injury in times of national crisis, that is international too.
In yesterday’s Telethone fundraising get-together, you seemed emotional when you said, “How will it look if the police stopped worshippers during Ramadhan, I can’t stop them from going to mosques. It is the people who have to decide whether they should go to the mosques or worship at home.”
Frankly, the statement was less emotional than it was political. Besides, it suggested the inability of a government to take a decisive step in the most critical times.
It is the only moment that you should take a U-turn on your decision to allow people to congregate anywhere, including mosques.
In the end, I want you not to let your critics say that the administrative decision of opening the mosques was a politician’s safe-play than the prudence of a statesman.