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EditorialPTI’s massive rally in Lahore

PTI’s massive rally in Lahore

After the fall of their government, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has successfully conducted large anti-government rallies in many major cities of Pakistan.

When he was the prime minister, Imran Khan stated that if his government is forcefully removed, he would be more ‘dangerous’ for ‘them’ on roads than he is now and that he will amass large numbers of people as the people have always been with him. So far, he has conducted rallies in Peshawar, Karachi and the biggest one in Lahore. The turnout was unexpected as large numbers of people joined the rallies from all over Lahore and nearby cities as well. Some overseas Pakistanis also flew in especially to participate in Khan’s ‘imported hakoomat naa manzoor’ rallies. Right before the Lahore rally, the administration of the metropolitan city warned the PTI chairman that there are security threats and his life is in danger which is why he must talk to the people through a video link instead of being physically present there. However, Khan declared in the Twitter space held a day earlier by his party’s social media wing that he will be physically present at the rally and address the people. The dice, however, was surrounded by bulletproof glass for the security of the former premier.

There is no doubt that he enjoys massive support all over Pakistan and among the overseas Pakistanis, but the problem lies with the narrative he has taken up in his rally speeches. In all the rallies, Imran Khan talked about how and why his government was made to let go of power. He continues to talk about the ‘foreign conspiracy’ that is jolted his support base in the National Assembly and that later on the Supreme Court of Pakistan went ahead out of the way against his government’s action. The former premier told his ‘Dear Pakistanis’ (as he likes to call them) that this government came in so that it could once again support the motives of western superpowers and dance to their tune. He said that since he refused to do so since he was removed from the office, he will continue to struggle for the ‘liberation’ of Pakistanis from these shackles.

Khan’s narrative has opened another dimension in Pakistani politics that has never been discussed after the fall of former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and that is the foreign policy.

If history has taught us anything, it is that Pakistan has always been used by western powers and discarded like a burnt cigarette after their objective was met.

Various governments in Islamabad have often supported western countries and their agendas to come in their good books, however, every time they have favored India over Pakistan and they continue to do so. Imran Khan’s objective (or rhetoric-depending on one’s political affiliation) on foreign policy is freedom from being any superpower’s slave and being dignified Pakistanis who can proudly stand in front of anyone and not feel small.

His removal from power is not a one-off incident; many leaders around the world were either assassinated or removed from power when they refused to become puppets of the west. Therefore, even if there is no truth in what Khan is saying about the letter, his removal certainly does bring forward memories of many countries’ past (some examples may be Mohammad Mosaddegh and our very own Zulfikar Ali Bhutto). If the former premier’s rhetoric has done anything, it is the renewal of public interest in foreign policy and the shift in opinion on foreign policy. Rightly or wrongly, people are now more inclined toward not bowing down in front of anyone and remaining independent of any foreign pressure. Rightfully so, Pakistanis have suffered a lot due to the American airstrikes and their war in Afghanistan. But Imran Khan should be mindful of the toxic narrative, which he spews against his political opponents. His advisers should have the courage to tell Imran Khan that his failure to keep his own members and allies along his lines failed his government.

On that front, he may be forgiven as sometimes, allies and his own members failed to follow his agenda of austerity, reforms, and accountability. His anti-American rhetoric and blaming the judges for one reason or another will not any good to him and his party. He should reflect on his government affairs, under which the media industry faced unprecedented problems, and several journalists lost jobs. Also, political opponents faced actions bordering on political victimization.

Supreme Court’s judge Justice Qazi Faez Issa was humiliated to face a baseless reference. Given the sorry track record of your government, it will be a sane move if you start talking about the mistakes you committed and the landmark projects your government undertook.

Both sides have a lot to tell. Your support is unprecedented and your popularity is at its peak and it will be unfair if you squander the opportunity. Other leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan have also evolved over time and have learned from their experience of being in the government. Meanwhile, your rallies are a fresh breath of breeze which have garnered support from whole families. There are elderly, women and children present at his rallies and supporting his cause (which is the cause of Pakistan as he says).

Protesting and conducting rallies is a basic right in a democracy and it is good to see people coming out to get their voices heard.

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