The Imran Khan “Fighting Chance”
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi
The recent hooplah over PTI ticket allocation to “electables” has set Pakistan abuzz.
Many have criticised his “electables” electoral strategy and there’s a rift amongst his own people on specific ticket allocations.
These are both strategic and tactical questions.
Strategic in questioning this approach of using “electables” as a winnable electoral strategy vs the “Bhutto Khumba” strategy.
Tactical, in questioning specific ticket allocations.
A strategy is always questionable. One can always argue for or against an adopted strategy. “Electables” or “Khumba”.
Let us remember that the Bhutto phenomenon came after 14 years of quasi military and military rule. The electoral environment was very different.
And Imran’s Khumba strategy failed in 2013.
The question to be asked from those offering criticism of Imran’s electables strategy is to ask themselves whether they possess the expertise, insight and most importantly their own practical experience in Pakistan’s political environment.
At a tactical level, I think its a question of who is able influence decisions. And clearly some errors were made.
And if these are serious and widespread then Imran can only blame himself and no one else.
But I think our bigger problem is that we offer free advice by the ton without having walked in the shoes of others.
Most who criticise Imran, have not journeyed Imran’s 22 years in this harsh political mafia like environment.
But we choose to become self appointed gurus on electoral strategy and tactics and what he should do and not do.
If anyone had walked in Imran’s shoes to try and change the system, in my opinion, would have had four obvious options available to them.
1. Give up after trying several times. Most do. He didn’t.
2. Join the loot. Most do. He didn’t.
3. Launch a violent and bloody revolution. He didn’t. He’s a builder not a destroyer.
4. Use the existing system to somehow pole vault him over the bar so he comes into power and sets about his agenda of change. He opted for this and made compromises, some of which apparently are tactically questionable. But his strategy, given current realities, is the only option available. And yes it may fail.
But one has to win the election to come into power.
And given the current electoral process, having potentially winning candidates on your side is now the only option.
One can argue that had Imran built up a very powerful intra party organizational structure and electoral engine, he may not have accepted as many “electables” from other parties.
But for now. This is his best strategy. Moaning and groaning and grumbling won’t help him.
For now as the battle begins, he needs the unqualified support from all of us who want a better, brighter, more just and equitable Pakistan.
Hence I would still give him my unqualified support till the elections and about 1 year beyond.
This unqualified support could be shorter after the elections, if one sees that he is wavering and following the path of the Sharifs and the Zardaris.
And most importantly if “questionable” people elected on his party ticket are doing the same what the Sharifs and Zardaris were up to.
And that he is unable to control them.
Laykin aik chance bilkul buntha hay!
I say this, because a man who can reach this stage of political influence and power in the gutter called Pakistani politics, without a political legacy, without being a wadera or a sardar, with no ties to any political groups and most importantly not acquired political power riding on the shoulders of military dictators like Bhutto and Nawaz, must have amazing qualities and stamina and something exceptional which keeps him going.
Bhutto would have been just a smart lawyer, but for Ayub Khan.
Nawaz Sharif, would still be bribing government bureaucrats but for Gen. Zia and Gen. Jilani.
I personally think Imran is not just an “undhon may kaana Raja” but a giant in our political landscape. Otherwise he would have faded away much earlier.
There’s a phrase I use for the nitpicking we do in running him down, but which perfectly describes what those who have never suffered hunger, never been exploited by the rich and the powerful, those who belong to the privileged elite of Pakistan, full stomachs, electric generators, wealth, power and influence.
They are the ones who indulge in this terrible exercise called “Intellectual Analysis Paralysis”.
There’s another much more colorful and graphic phrase to describe this mind set but parliamentary norms restrict me from using it here.
We are like all those half assed cricket “specialists” watching a match on TV or sitting on the sidelines, commenting on why Mohammed Aamir didn’t ball a yorker or an inswinger or Why Misbah played that shot or why didn’t he?
Useless people, never having achieved anything substantial in life, never ever been in the cut and thrust of this quagmire called politics, pontificating and sermonising, criticizing freely, hoping this would elevate their pygmy like stature closer to someone who has sacrificed his entire life to try and fix this nation.
Or then those who are simply hard wired in their opposition to him because of high stake political and economic vested interests with the Sharifs and Zardaris.
A PPP Senator and a friend since 1984 recently cut off ties with me when I questioned her slavish servitude to the “House of Zardari” and Bilawal Zardari.
I questioned her on how someone like her with a lifeling track record of fighting injustice could sell herself like a courtier paying homage to a “twenty something nothing” called Bilawal, because of vested political interests and economic power and influence?
But their support for a criminal like Nawaz or a looter and plunderer like Zardari is understandable.
And then there is this wonderful lot of so called liberals who will support crooks like Nawaz and Zardari as symbols of “democracy” and everything that is anti military.
They live in the “cold war” era of anti militarism and anti authoritarianism of the Zia and Musharraf eras. And still believe that they are fighting a Jihad!
And Nawaz has used this anti military sentiment very effectively to muddy the waters and make this into a “Democracy vs Martial Law” narrative with the help of these so called anti army crusaders.
Those who have bought into this narrative are treading very very dangerous waters, because were this terrible mafia to survive, Pakistan is headed for major anarchy.
Get ready to see your wonderful boulevards and house in the Bahria’s, and DHA’s and Gulbergs etc go up in flames.
Get ready to see your freedoms and rights usurped as mad militias loot, plunder, rape, pillage and destroy.
The anger we see amongst the poor and downtrodden on videos circulating on social media are small eruptions of the massive lava of anger and discontent lying just below the surface.
Once it erupts, no one will be able to stop it. No one.
No. Not even the Pakistan Army.
Innocent and guilty will be swept away in this tide of violent anger.
And this will not be a revolution. But total anarchy.
This last group in my opinion is worse than any other. In their singleminded anger against the Pakistan Army, they are willing to support and truck with the most corrupt criminals of this land. Nawaz and Zardari and lead us to anarchy.
One very well known journalist, currently in the USA, publicly shared that he would vote for the PPP. This person, highly educated, well read, brilliant, is an example of this terrible terrible affliction which impacts our educated and aware.
Another owner of a main stream newspaper waxed eloquently about the “accomplishments” of Nawaz, Khaqan and of all people, Maryam Aurangzeb, blinded by commercial interests and blind to the loot and plunder of the Sharifs and Zardaris.
Hence my unqualified BUT timebound support for Imran because in my opinion his “electables” strategy is a means to an end.
And once in power he gives Pakistan a fighting chance to get us out of this terrible quicksand:
1. He plans to insulate public funds from legislators. Restrict them to legislating.
2. Restrict Cabinet to policy making and limit their administrative and functional interference in operational implementation.
3. Institute major civil service reforms, especially restoring constitutional protection for civil servants so they are free of unwanted political and government influence
4. Dramaticall improve the delivery of public services for the common man by appointing competent heads of public sector state owned enterprises with independant boards, free of political interference.
5. Institute major judicial reforms with Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanisms as an important fundamental.
6. Ensuring that administratively and financially empowered local governments deliver public services.
Thats his plan.
So lets give him a chance andnot shoot him down before he’s even started.
KP was his first shot at governance. He has done a very credible and effective job, despite the entrenched mafias and vested interests, including those in his own party.
And he has learned much!
And to Imran
If Imran betrays our faith and trust.
If he doesn’t walk his talk.
I will be at the head of the long line to cast the first stone!
This I assure him and everybody!
No one is above Pakistan.
And a last word for the critics from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt.
“…….It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat……”