By: |Syed Tazmeen Javed|
Has Imran’s time finally come? The 2018 election with all predictions of deferment, ‘technocratic set up’ put aside, is hardly a day away, as we are going to witness a continuous transition of democratic power third time in a row. Two parties, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which have ruled Pakistan faces a potential threat from ‘change’ factor that Imran has carried for last 7 years. Since October 2011, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is considered to be the third option, but following 2013 elections which turned out to be a disappointing phase in its chapter the change has faded and Imran emerged some what like an orthodox politician.
Following 2013 elections, Imran disseminated a narrative alleging the PML(N) colluded with ‘State Institutions’ managing to steal the mandate which was supposedly for PTI. However, no other party went beyond than the PTI itself seeking a probe over the allegations of rigging. The infamous 2014 sit-in was ‘orchestrated’ on that aspect, however attempts by PTI eventually became futile following 126 days of protest at D -Chowk, Islamabad. The rival party PML(N) headed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif; however secretly indicated that the Inter Service Intelligence(ISI) was behind conspiring and manipulating PTI against the advocates of “Civilian Supremacy.”
Imran then remained in an idle phase, vowing to focus more on Khyber PakhtunKhuwah, despite claims for bringing reforms in education , police and health sector. His dismal state continued in 2015, adding insult to injury following divorce with Reham Khan, the marriage lasting 10 months. Imran was nowhere. Nawaz was on top. Reforms introduced by Pakistan Muslim League(Nawaz) and the strong China Pakistan Economic Corridor hinted PML(N) to sweep 2018 elections. The PTI, on the other hand was focusing on strengthening their organizational structure after mammoth defeats by the hand of PML(N) in by-elections.
But, Panama leaks came as a light of hope in embattled PTI as subsequent admission by Imran himself that the party was in shambles. The panama leaks revealed the offshore companies held by Nawaz’s children. This was the turning point for Imran to lead the drive. He was up and sought Nawaz’s resignation. Nawaz was defiant and rejected demand for stepping aside. However, he proposed formation of judicial commission in inquiring the matter. The Supreme Court, earlier excused from proceeding the inquiry but then later accepted the ‘frivolous’ petition (Thanks to threat of Islamabad lock down) and constituted a 5 member bench. Imran was a petitioner along with Jaamat-e-Islami seeking disqualification under article 62 and 63 of the constitution. Things slipped with the passage of time, Nawaz became fragile.
All was supposed to be red roses for the cricketer turned politician following the disqualification at Panama papers case, but Imran was mistaken. Nawaz’s famous slogan “vote ko izzat do” gained momentum. Punjab which never went against military establishment, seemingly accepted Nawaz’s outburst against Army, as the former believes the army-backed judiciary was behind his ouster. Imran was just a pawn for PML(N). But, then with the sunrise of year 2018, Imran had the last hope. The turncoats came to PTI ranks. Grievances of South Punjab and the turn coats gave PTI the last say where it matters. The way to Islamabad goes through Punjab. Seemingly Reham’s book could not damage Imran’s credibility. The book was intended to break stereotypes that people hold for Imran. Once a party against the status quo was more or less the same like others. All this was happening with judicial verdicts against Nawaz. First disqualification, then life time ban. Whereas, the Supreme Court maintained Imran as ‘ Sadiq and Ameen’ as chief justice himself observed that Imran was “forth coming” with the money trail clearing him from suspicions of being ‘corrupt'(Sadiq and Ameen). But the last nail in the coffin was Avenfield verdict which found Nawaz guilty for holding assets beyond known source of income. PML(N) alleged puppeteers pulling strings from the back. Confused narrative of Nawaz and Shehbaz; one blaming the Army, whereas Shehbaz was putting efforts to reconcile with the Army did not help
Aforementioned discourse apparently looks like a tailor made story for Imran to rise to the throne. But most importantly it is because the opposing party went into conflict with powers that be. What makes Imran different to be a suitable choice than the others, is to be at the right place at the right time.
The writer tweets at : https://twitter.com/IamTazmeenJaved