History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it – with these words of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchil, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) posted a photograph of its leader Imran Khan on Twitter as results of general elctions in Pakistan poured in.
Imran Khan is only a few post-poll negotiations away from becoming the prime minister of Pakistan.
Pakistan is passing through the phase of only second democratic transition in 70 years. Cricketer-socialite-turned-politician Imran Khan is seeing his dream come true. Going into the general elections, Imran Khan had spelt out his dream saying that he wanted to break the monopoly of two old parties – PML-N and PPP – in Pakistani politics.
After elections, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has emerged as the single-largest party in National Assembly. Though, it has failed to win a majority of directly contested 272 seats in the House of 342 members.
Imran Khan’s election campaign caught the imagination of youth and the middle class as he “vowed” to break “status quo” of Pakistan’s backwardness maintained by PML-N and PPP. Carrying his Kaptaan (captain) image for leading Pakistan cricket team to its only World Cup victory 26 years ago, Imran Khan saw a groundswell of support particularly among the youth, the middle-class and the far-right of the country.
Often referred to as Arvind Kejriwal of Pakistani politics, Imran Khan had surprised a few political pundits in 2013 elections by emerging as the third largest political party in Pakistan and registering victory in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The region has been a hotbed of Taliban and other fundamentalist groups. The PTI ran a relatively successful government in the province between 2013 and 2018.
During the campaign for July 25 elections, Imran Khan promised his voters to build a Naya Pakistan if his PTI was voted to power. A near-victory for Imran Khan’s multi-dimensional image – a collage of a superstar sportsman, a philanthropist who builds hospitals and an upfront politician – signals a definite change in Pakistani politics. Many call it a watershed moment for Pakistan.
Being the head of a new party in Pakistan gives Imran Khan the advantage of having little or no baggage of corruption unlike PML-N and PPP. Imran Khan repeatedly launched offensive against Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N as well as PPP and Bhutto Zardari family reminding the voters of the corruption scandals associated with the two parties.
Imran Khan held the Sharifs and Bhutto-Zardaris solely responsible for keeping Pakistan backward and dependent on other countries for its economic survival. Imran Khan stressed in his speeches on employment generation through development of tourism in the picturesque valleys and mountainous regions, bringing in investment for industries and improving agriculture.
Emphasis on improving educational infrastructure and quality, and providing healthcare to all Pakistanis were the big ticket promises during the election campaign. Education and health services set the PTI of Imran Khan apart from the PML-N and the PPP.
Imran Khan has not shied from openly supporting the far-right in the country. He has favoured dialogue with the fundamentalist and terror groups. He called it giving those groups a chance to participate in the nation building process.
Imran Khan also supported the idea of death penalty to those found guilty of blasphemy in Islamic Pakistan. He also supported the legislation for persecution of Ahmadis – Muslims, who are considered heretics by hardliners.
Many liberals have found his support to death penalty for blasphemy and persecution of Ahmadis as paradoxical to his promise of building a New Pakistan if voted to power.
On the front of foreign policy, Imran Khan has been conspicuous in his surrender to the Pakistan Army. Imran Khan’s PTI is the only major party in Pakistan that has not criticised Pakistan Army for its interference in the working of a civilian government.
Imran Khan’s Kashmir policy seems to have been one of supporting the Pakistan Army. He has said that the issue of Kashmir could not be resolved without the support of the Pakistan Army, which continues to adhere to the policy of “a thousand cuts”. Imran Khan’s victory in Pakistan may embolden the Pakistan Army to sponsor terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir more aggressively.
News credit : Indiatoday