“Hum bi munh may zuban rakthe hain,
“We, too, the dejected, heartbroken and sadden ones wish to plead for our innocence, our sufferings.
Alas, there is no one to empathise with our heartaches and melancholy sorrows.”
– Ghalib (translated by the writer)
Mirza Ghalib’s above verse is a perfect and true expression of the masses’ grief, distress and lamentations over the appalling deprivations in present-day Pakistan. The dysfunctional and mismanaged so-called democratic polity, the result of inefficient, selfish and self-seeking ruling elite and the product of traditional political culture, cannot be sustained any longer and will have to be dismantled soon. It seems that in these horrifying political times, with visible signs of the state failing and overall public desperation, Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf’s message of “change” is the only hope of a viable political future for Pakistan.
The question is: Will the contemporary vested interest forces, the coldblooded and pitiless crocodiles at the helm of national affairs, allow the “change” to take place? In Pakistan’s history, the most important political battle between the preservation of “status quo” forces and the people’s popular support for self-determination on all national issues is already underway. The stage is set for a decisive showdown amongst the competing actors: the incumbent ruling class’ naked political contradictions and dirty warfare against the common citizens’ inherent interests vs the emerging revolutionary peoples’ response for popular democratic self-determination. It is in this context that Imran’s political message of “change” becomes historically relevant and important in present-day Pakistan.
Will Imran’s PTI win by a landslide in the next general election? Let us examine the probabilities and political dynamics at work at all levels of public political awareness and increased consciousness on almost all national issues. The incumbent ruling elites’ faith in their infallibility is about to be challenged in the court of public opinion.
Revolutionary politics is quite similar to the game of cricket. It is marked by surprises, sudden changes and abrupt dimensions of unpredictable outcomes. Take for example, the recent Asia Cup Cricket final between Pakistan and Bangladesh. Pakistan was the favourite to win in the first session, having piled up a formidable total. Then the picture changed and Bangladesh was set to win. Suddenly, the dynamics of the game altered and Bangladesh lost the match by two runs in the last over. The unpredictable becomes the reality.
Similarly, in the politics of England recently, political observers and bookies alike had initially placed Respect Party’s George Galloway’s chances of winning at 200-1 against the Labour candidate. But Galloway scored a stunning parliamentary win, capitalising on the British voters’ rebellious frame of mind in Yorkshire’s Bradford West. Will PTI give such a surprising shock to Pakistan’s contemporary establishment in the next general election? Khan bets he will!
Just as in a cricket match, determination, fighting to the end, and self-confidence are important. In the political arena, the elements of political correctness, truthfulness, personal integrity, dignity, and steadfastness in supporting public issues are of vital importance. “Galloway…….(is) a straight talker…….George is believable. He connects with hopes and fears of ordinary working people…….And if he sees a wrong, he doesn’t hesitate to point it out in the clearest language regardless of who might be upset…….Britons are fed up with propaganda and lies, and are overwhelmingly disillusioned with politicians,” wrote an eminent columnist recently. Imran’s political ideology, personal behavioural attributes, approach to political issues and communicative style, and political perspectives are pretty much identical to Galloway’s existential experiences of politics in Britain. The Pakistani masses are as much disillusioned with traditional politics as Galloway’s Britons have been. The same political dynamics at work in both instances indicate that Imran Khan is earmarked for electoral success in Pakistan.
Decades ago, playing for the Universal Cricket Club at the Carson Cricket Grounds in Lahore, I surprised myself and everyone else present at the time, with a haul of seven wickets for 21 runs - the last five wickets coming at the cost of two runs only. The other side was decimated in a matter of three overs. Reflecting on the events of that day, years later now, I realise that my bowling success was greatly helped by the strong winds blowing from behind. Metaphorically speaking, Imran is riding the winds from behind because that is the scheme of things that have been organised by the hidden forces that are not within our control - which will shape and influence a wider scope of events to come.
But “winds from behind” is not only a mystical occurrence; it has logic of its own. Public disillusionment, discontentment and alienation from the traditional civilian ruling elite - the Bhuttos, the Mians, the Chaudharys as well as from military generals - are fuelling the masses fury and the demand for a change in the overall political structure of the country. Imran, as opposed to the incumbent ruling elite, is politically consistent and in complete harmony with the demands and political aspirations of Pakistani masses for a democratic welfare state in Pakistan. The PTI Chief has his finger on the people’s pulse and his practical politics is vividly reflective of the party’s direction and close engagement with the masses’ wishes.
Let me make this vital point: Imran, as a sportsman and politician, is a modern man who understands what it takes to go forward as well as just how painstaking the journey to legendary achievements is. His success story is not out of a “fairy tale”. His personal sojourn and life narrative is one of ultimate determination, relentless efforts, unflinching faith, absolute self-confidence, extreme hard work and uncompromising self-integrity, credibility and dignity. And Imran has endured pain and agony resulting in formidable accomplishments: after all, who else has gifted his or her departed loved one with an everlasting gift such as the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital that emerged out of a personal emotional loss and intense suffering. Indeed, I will argue that such comprehensive all-inclusive behaviour is an indication of moral and ethical development that is consistent and necessary in the making of a national leadership.
In Pakistan, political humour, jokes on the streets and the symbolic names given to different political parties and personalities are a reflection of people’s political sentiments. Lately, the PML-N is being called the “Nura League”. One important politician is named “Surrender Sahib”. In public gatherings, people chant “Maulvi Diesel” for another politician, and for the President and the Prime Minister the language used in public discourse is simply insulting and unparliamentarily. Obviously, the public is disenchanted with the present political system and the people and the parties that are running it. But who is to be blamed for such public outrage? Think about it!
Imran is known to deliver what he promises. His current personal cause is to transform Pakistan’s political culture. But will Ghalib’s heart-broken, sorrow-stricken Pakistani people elect PTI? Will Imran Khan win by a landslide in the coming general election?
Khan claims his PTI will mobilise the people for a political change never before witnessed in Pakistan’s history. Only time will tell - but the odds are in his favour! Imran Khan represents -
“Hum bi munh may zuban rakthe hain,
Kash pucho ke majara (mudda) kya hai.”
The writer is UAE-based academic policy analyst, conflict resolution expert and the author of several books on Pakistan and foreign policy issues. He holds a doctorate and a masters degree from
Columbia University in New York.