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Imran sandwiched between hunted and hunters

Since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government took over in Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad, it has been facing multiple challenges on economic, political, internal and external fronts.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, perhaps is the only leader who was, is and will be a continuous threat to the status quo forces ruling the country for decades. Corrupt elite and family politics feel in danger in his presence as he motivated the youth. All political rivals united against his government, though it was hanging by a thread since it took over in 2018.

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When he came into power, Imran Khan promised to tackle the economy and devolve power to the local level and above all, reform the colonial bureaucratic system.

However, after assuming office, the cash-strapped economy, inflation, rising dollar rate, oil prices and diving exports added to the miseries of his government.

Moreover, there was equally bulkier opposition and factions within the party and poor leadership in the biggest province. There was common thinking that the establishment was backing the political setup led by Imran Khan.

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But with time, ‘supporting forces’ distanced themselves from his power corridor. He lost international friends as Pakistan played against the sole superpower in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Foreign loan instalments to return, FATF, and lack of support from neighbouring China, Saudi Arabia and other allies during the crunch also added to his worries.

As reported, ambassadors continued calling on Pakistani politicians on an agenda to topple the government.

When the newspaper surveyed different people, they were of the view that there was a major role of big players as it was during 2008 when the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) was ousted from the game. Common commodities disappeared from the market and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) gained sympathies and thus rose to power.

Prof. Asif Ali, who teaches at Hamayat-e-Islam, said that the core team of Imran Khan consisted of agents of other parties. However, the opposition could not make him a villain, but rather made him a victim. He said that the ruling elite is the west’s stooge, while the common men are slaves of industrial revolutionists.

Sadiq Ali, a worker of PTI, said that PTI’s manifesto to produce one million jobs and five million houses were just a political slogan like that of Zulfiqar Bhutto’s ‘roti, kapra and makan’ (food, clothing and shelter). The dwindling economy could not afford more employees in the already overstaffed departments, he said.

Talking about in-house change, Ali said that it could escalate political chaos. The united opposition could go for wrapping up the National Accountability Bureau. He said that Bhutto used China as an extra area actor to counter India.

Chaudhry Muhammad Noman, a political activist, while quoting a western philosopher said that Imran Khan should never trust anyone completely and study everyone – including friends and family. Moreover, Imran should have done complete homework before contesting the general elections which he did not.

Chaudhry Shahnawaz, a political worker, was of the view that PM Khan had challenged status quo forces; he had also challenged the two-party system, and family politics and raised his voice against corruption and money laundering.

His main agenda was accountability but it could not attain weightage.

Facing the no-confidence motion is one of the biggest challenges for PM Khan. Instead of facing the motion, he opted to furnish advice to the president to dissolve the National Assembly. He said that analysts call this act a controversial but safe-exit for Khan.

Pakistani politics devoid of any moral values have been seen observing Machiavelli’s book ‘The Prince’ in letter and spirit.

Shahnawaz further said that rising prices and inflation also add to his worries. Moreover, a foreign conspiracy, as Imran Khan himself alleged, was being directed by the American ambassador on his principled stand on foreign affairs.

The distance from the establishment as many critics believe led to the ultimate unceremonious exit from the power corridor. Mr Khan’s ego, narcissism and stand on the continuity of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar led to the current situation.

However, there were challenges that Imran Khan’s government met successfully like a pandemic, the Ehsaas program, health cards, and PM’s portal. It also provided a financial support system for the poor sector improving the lacuna in the Benazir Income support program.

Aamir Ali, a retired officer from civil services, said Imran claimed to bring administrative, judicial, revenue, and police reforms but couldn’t. He said that reforms in the system could have strengthened his position. Bureaucracy did not support him and he had no plan to utilize their expertise.

PM Imran himself generated crisis after crisis due to his incessant ability.

Political instability in the neighbouring Afghanistan and Ukraine crisis also triggered world opinion against him.

Dissolving powers to the grass-root level could not be materialized as his party lost elections in the first phase in KP. PTI however, won in the second phase.

Talking about PM Khan’s failure, Aamir said that he was not ready to step down from the container. He could not make an indigenous team of experts to run the country. All the development in Punjab was its chief executive’s hometown-based. His government could not engage the youth, the main power, because he had no plans to utilise that class.

Ejaz Baloch, an analyst, was of the view that democracy was immature, and so were the politicians. Ejaz further said that the opposition had no plan as both of the leading political parties PML-N, PPP wanted the status quo.

He said that unluckily politics polarizes people and politicians play, but Pakistanis lose in every situation. Talking about Prime Minister Khan and his government, he said that mainstream citizens distrusted him, which was the main reason for his unpopular position.

Baloch also advised PM Khan to read Sun Tzu who had said, “In Midst of Chaos, there is also an opportunity.” Moreover, Khan should also read two stanzas of the famous poem ‘The Nation’s Strength’ by William Ralph Emerson.

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