Malik Muhammad Ashraf
The results of the 2013 General Elections came as a rude shock to the PTI, particularly its Chairman, Imran Khan, who after making an impressive entry on the political landscape in the wake of a largely attended public rally at Lahore in 2011 and subsequent events in the lead-up to the polls, had started entertaining the illusion of sweeping the elections. And unfortunately, he and his party have not been able to overcome the shock and accept the stark realities. They are still trying to sell this myth to the people without any success.Reportedly, Naeem ul Haq, General Secretary of the PTI, has told Shahzeb Khanzada (the host of a private news channelâ€™s programme), that the PML-N (with the help of the former Army Chief General Kiyani and other institutions) had planned PTIâ€™s defeat. According to Shahzeb, Naeem ul Haq did not give any proof in support of his claim and only restricted himself to saying: â€œI challenge General Kiyani to refute the allegationsâ€. That indeed is bizarre logic in the backdrop of the fact that the allegations of systematic rigging were effectively quashed by the judicial commission formed on the insistence of the PTI and, the commitment given by Imran Khan that he and his party would withdraw the allegations, if the commission findings were contrary to the claims of the party. To begin with â€“ Imran Khan claimed that the elections had been stolen from him by the PML-N, which had collaborated with the former COAS, MI, ECP, ROs, the caretaker government( in the centre and in Punjab), and a private television channel. The pivot of his rigging claims was the 35 punctures that he claimed Najam Sethi (the Chief Minister of the caretaker government in Punjab), had orchestrated. He tried to rub in this notion vociferously from every convenient roof-top and available forum. But as we know, when the Judicial Commission delivered its verdict (dismissing the claims of systematic rigging in the 2013 election and legitimising the mandate of the PML-N), Imran somersaulted, and in his first reaction to the report, he said that he accepted the report, but felt saddened by the fact that the commission left its job unfinished. In a press conference, he maintained that the elections were undoubtedly rigged and that the ECP, PML-N and ROs were part of the conspiracy to rig the polls. The unmistakable interpretation of what he said was that he rejected the findings of the commission, which according to him were not based on thorough and exhaustive probe of the allegations. It is pertinent to mention that after the verdict of the Judicial Commission, he was asked by the host of a TV programme about the 35 punctures on which he based his rigging claims, and he said that it was only political talk and that somebody had whispered it into his ear. That was indeed a very flabbergasting revelation. The man kept the entire nation on the tenterhooks for so many months and, without feeling any remorse and mortification for having acted in such an irresponsible manner, he just laughed it off. Even after admitting his folly, he is on record to have repeatedly mentioned rigging in the 2013 elections. That probably did not endear him well to the masses. The PTI was completely mauled in the local body elections and the AJK polls, which was decidedly a very strong rebuff to Imranâ€™s style of politics and the rejection of his rigging mantra. But all the set-backs and reversals faced by the party have failed to affect the stubbornness of Imran Khan, who refused to reconcile to the ground realities and continued in the same vein. For the last few months, he has been targeting the ECP. He even went to the extent of saying that it was in league with the ruling party and, would help the PML-N to win the next elections. He has even been using abusive language against the ECP, and has refused to accept the jurisdiction of the Commission to ask him for details of the partyâ€™s funds which were received from abroad. The Chief Election Commissioner, in response to the contention of the PTI lawyer that the ECP did not have the jurisdiction to probe into the party funds, remarked: â€œWill the PTI go on abusing us, if we cannot hear the case?â€ These remarks amply prove how Imran Khan has been treating the state institutions such as the ECP -the tone and tenor of his fulminations. Imran Khan does not even spare other political parties, and relishes the spectacle of taking swipes at them. Currently, he is engaged in a verbal spat with PPP, and has been making quite unsavoury remarks about its co-Chairman, Asif Ali Zardari. Referring to the return of Sharjeel Memon and the bail granted to Dr Asim, he has maintained that it was all part of a deal between the PPP and PML-N. Notwithstanding the fact, the PPP has adopted a very hostile posture towards the latter and vowed to give it a tough time, in the run up to the next elections. The suggestion of a deal between PPP and PML-N seems quite preposterous, particularly the granting of bail to Sharjeel Memon. The bail has been granted to him by the court, and the suggestion that it has been given as a consequence of a political deal, is actually tantamount to casting aspersions at the credibility and independence of the judiciary.Political analysts are of the view that such antics by Imran Khan, and the repeatedly proven falsehood of his allegations, are not going to help him in reviving his political fortunes. He needs to think and act rationally. Also, he needs to abandon his impulsive streak of hurling unsubstantiated allegations at his opponents and the state institutions. He is a leader of a party which undoubtedly has considerable following in the country, as is evident from the number of votes that the party polled in the 2013 general elections.
He must respect the mandate of the people and play a positive role in strengthening democracy, winching the country out of the egregious situation that it has landed into due to the wrong policies of the previous regimes. He needs to stop acting as a spoiler, keep faith in the judgment of the masses and try to win their franchise in the next elections the right way. Democracy is about accepting the verdict of the people because they are the best judges of the performance of the political parties and the incumbent government. The system of governance can be changed; its inadequacies can be removed only by being a part of it and adopting a constitutional path. Anything contrary to this is negation of democracy. Khan certainly needs to prove his democratic credentials.
Malik Muhammad Ashraf