Imran Khan: What Have we Accomplished with this March

Pakistani politician Imran Khan stands on a vehicle in Mianwali, northern Pakistan

I am pretty sure that even the most die-hard followers of Imran Khan are now asking this question: What have we accomplished? If the purpose of this march was to topple the government and replace it with the premiership of Imran Khan, that cannot be accomplished now. It cannot be accomplished now because if the resignations of the party workers are accepted, then PTI will have no representation in the National Assembly and no mode of cobbling together a coalition to anoint the cricketer.

Now, if the purpose was to create a space for the undemocratic forces to yet again start dictating the terms of Pakistani democracy, then PTI and Imran Khan have won, for we have already seen and heard some current and some washed out touts of former dictators who have started appearing again. And for this great service to democracy, we all should thank Mr. Imran Khan!

If the purpose was to weaken a democratically elected government, to stop whatever developmental work was being done, and to damage the economic prospects of Pakistan, then the mission is accomplished. By paralyzing the capital for more than ten days and by generally shifting all focus on the march itself, PTI has successfully sent Pakistan into the kind of instability that is an anathema for modern economies.

But the greatest accomplishment, however, is that PTI led by Imran Khan has so weakened the political system that now all kinds of back doors are open to let the old power brokers of Pakistani politics in. You know who I am talking about: the dictators and the psuedo-dictators. Maybe, and this is highly speculative, Imran Khan has led the proxy war of the powers-that-be against a democratically elcted government, and if that is the case then no amount of sanctimonious sloganing is going to help Imran Khan in the long run.

What is Imran’s greatest claim to fame: that he is not corrupt and that he led us once to win a cup in a game introduced by our erstwhile colonizers. But honest people can also be stupid, and great players can sometimes fail in the very games introduced by our former masters. And that happens to be the case with Imran Khan. Compared to him, Asif Ali zardari, famous for his corruption, has shown more forethought and wisdom: he has come forward to support democracy.

Mr. Imrak Khan asserts that the so-called Civil Disobedience is against the government: No, civil disobedience is always against the state and not the government. And at what price would he fulfill his personal vendetta against Nawaz Sharif. It seems that what is happening between IK and the PM is deeply personal; at least IK’s statements betray this kind of venomous, personal tone.

So, is it Imran Khan staging his personal animosity toward the PM with the support of his tech-savvy, twitter-bloated Pakistani youth? If so, then it is not really a revolution, for revolutions come from below and are not top-down. This is rather a public display of a personal vendetta in which the so-called “followers’ are being instrumentalized for the purposes of their leaders.

So, while there is still hope for reconciliation, the damage is already done: democracy is again on shaky grounds, the washed out generals and other such political animals have started asserting themselves again, and people are slowly losing faith in democracy!

Masood Raja

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas and the author of "The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America" (Palgrave, 2016). 

  5 comments for “Imran Khan: What Have we Accomplished with this March

    August 25, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I’m not a die hard fan of Imran khan, but I do support his views. The anarchy that is spread over the country has forced the parents to kill their children, mothers are committing suicides with their kids, people are dying of hunger, there is no law, no justice in any corner of the country. In this situation an election takes place and people see a little ray of hope in imran khan. They know that he might be as corrupt as others, he May lead us again to disaster but at least give it a try, they do…but as per norms and practice prevalent in the country all big shots buy the system and do massive rigging. Imran khan shouts for over an year but no one listens to him, this resulting into the massive march scenario in the country, where u see him as failure, I see him a saviour… I have never been the part of any political party but I go up his rally everyday, not because I’m impressed by his charismatic personality but because I see a true person speaking for me, I see a speck of light in him that’s not anywhere to be found in this darkness .

    • August 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      That is great. I have been encouraging people to write responses, so if you have a longer essay we can publish it as well. Thank you for taking the time to respond, though.

    Abida Younas
    August 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Sir, I am not into politics too much but still I support IK. I support him not because of his charming personality rather i can see a ray of hope in his speech. We have given a chance to industrialists, Army and even to the landlord, so I think we should give him a chance once. We all know that the rule of industrialist is the worst thing for Pakistan. I am sorry to say but we know that a business man can never understand how to solve the problem as they are merely concerned with money making. In the midst of all discontentment related to politics, corruption and all other things, Imran Khan is the only one who raised his voice against this discontentment and i think this is the reason that people especially youth are in favor of him.

  3. Athar
    August 26, 2014 at 3:19 am

    It is indeed amazing site to see two different streams flowing together in Pakistan’s capital city for the last eleven days. Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tahreek are two different ideologies that have led their different demands in their distinct ways for the last Eleven days. This seems to be a change in the political history of Pakistan as two different streams have shown acceptance and tolerance for each other despite differences of opinion and ideologies. It is also worth mentioning that despite mounting tensions with the government no case of violence has been reported till now. It is a positive change of peaceful protest culture in Pakistani politics.
    It is indeed the beauty of democracy though fragile in Pakistan due to multiple factors that the people of the country have started participating in the democratic system with their effective voice. PAT & PTI should be appreciated for their role in raising awareness against the wrongdoings of the political elite. Their one goal seems to be common that is voice and accountability. Both parties have re-engaged the society at a larger level. PAT & PTI have brought in people from all strata of the society. PTI may be appreciated for bringing the elite into the sit-ins. One can barely see the participation of gentry specially youth (girls and boys) who have never been to such public meetings/gathering where the problems of the common men are not only discussed but can also be felt under the scorching heat where no air conditioning is available. It might not be an important factor for many that how the elite’s participation would affect the marches or such political movements but we could see a change drifting its way though. Imran Khan has been phenomenally successful in taking out the upper class of the country into the problems of a common man. An unaware person will never understand the problems of a common man till he is realized through some experience. So moderately speaking IK has been fortunate to let the elite experience woes of a common man by taking them out of their comfortable life for some time. It is a positive development in a country like Pakistan where the elite has been indifferent to the common man. Elite’s participation in IK protests may be labelled by few as cosmetic and mere pump and show but believer’s in a dream view it as a drop of new change.
    Both parties have been labelled with multiple objection like making the capital city hostage for the last so many days.Thus causing great economic, social and political loss to the country. These claims are some how true. Due to these sit-ins country has suffered innumerable economic losses. There are cautious estimates of Rs 150b per day loss to economy due to PTI, PAT sit-ins. The twin cities (Rawalpindi-Islamabad) have been paralyzed due to the political turmoil in an adverse manner. People are facing great problems in commuting across the two cities due to blockades by placing containers.Thus going for jobs, schools and all other businesses have become very difficult and challenging. Prices of the basic commodities have risen up as supply and demand balance has been disturbed due to closure of all entry points into the twin cities. The twin cities especially Islamabad seems to be a container walled city.
    From a closer look at the two political parties their sit-in style is different and distinct from different aspects. As said earlier the former one is more liberal in its out look with introduction of songs, dances and effective use of social media as new sources of communication in Pakistani Political discourse.The later one is a religious party with a different style of religiously motivated speeches and Qawali(Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia)and Dhamal(Sufi trance dance) to charge its workers.
    There is also visible difference in the discipline and organisation of the both parties.PAT workers seem to be more organised as compared to PTI. As they remain at the place of sit-in most of the time with performing multiple duties for their co-workers. It has also been observed that the strength in the PTI sit-in’s usually get improved during the evenings just like a sudden surge and the it recedes during the day time. Government has bittrely criticised the sit-ins through media calling them introdurers in the smooth functioning of democratic system. There protesters have been accused of misbehaiviour with police.There are around forty thousand policemen on duty for the sit-ins called from Punjab police, AJK Police and GB Police.There are all other law enforcement agencies who are busy monitoring the mob.The police behavior is really appreciative towards the protesters. The marchers are showing their respect for the police. PTI’s women workers showered rose petals on policemen on duty when they entered the red zone. It was an amazing site to see the police for public service in Islamabad for the first time in political marches where there were greater chances of conflict due to the escalating tensions between the government and the protesting political parties. There was no
    Women participation in both parties is significant and encouraging. PAT & PTI has given visible participation to women in their political struggle.One can witness women at large in both sit-ins along with their families.It would not be wrong to say that both parties have involved the larger portion of population that has been ignored and discriminated in Pakistani politics since independence. It an important and welcoming move by the both political parties. Women has always played a significant role in the progress and development of Pakistan.Their active participation in politics will help in resolving many problems of the country. Everything has a price. For attaining something greater every nation has to pay some price. It is high time for Pakistan that through these political transformations we should learn some new good lessons of peace and hope.

    • August 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      These are all good points. I would love to post it as an independent article on the site. Let me know if that is OK and suggest a title if you do agree to post it.

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