The government miserably failed to push the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senators to a tight corner by initiating general discussion on a recent TV interview of Imran Khan, through tabling an adjournment motion. Dr Wasim Shahzad, a vigorous PTI loyalist and the Opposition Leader in the Senate, bravely defended the said interview.

It rather helped him to spin and press the claim that Imran Khan was a man of vision. Only he could foresee the possibly dangerous consequences, if Pakistan turned bankrupt due to the perennial melt down of its economy. Imran Khan’s courage to state them, bluntly, should rather be appreciated instead of being condemned. Senator after senator from the PTI benches then kept repeating the same position.

 The speeches delivered from the government side didn’t succeed to embarrass Imran Khan and his supporters for visible lack of a coherent narrative and the ability to state it firmly. They also failed to intelligently interpret the said interview.

During the interview that went on air Wednesday evening, the former prime minister was almost explicit to blame “the establishment” for ensuring the count on a vote of no confidence, tabled against him in the national assembly, during the late night of April 9, 2022. Calling it “the darkest night” of Pakistan’s history, Imran Khan forcefully reiterated his position that movers of the said motion didn’t have numbers for removing him. “The establishment,” he keeps recalling, furnished the lacking strength for them. Even when the “covert support” didn’t appear delivering, the apex court was “influenced” to act. Finally, to break the morale and resolve of his government, vehicles were moved to create the fear of martial law.

Most speakers from the treasury benches couldn’t highlight the operative theme of his interview. They simply stayed hooked to the remarks, wherein Imran Khan had expressed the fear that if “the establishment” didn’t change its conduct, the government replacing him was set to lead Pakistan to bankruptcy. After defaulting in paying back loans to foreign countries and global banks and institutions, Pakistan would then be asked to abandon its atomic assets. Without them, Pakistan can eventually split into three different countries.

To be fair, Imran Khan didn’t sound exceptional while linking the security of our nuclear programmes to our dependence on foreign loans. Many of our self-proclaimed “patriots” had been wailing about it, nonstop, since at least 2008. They had convinced a huge number of Pakistanis that our “corrupt to the core” politicians recklessly run after foreign loans and thus knowingly walk into the debt trap. Imran Khan had simply owned the same story and ferociously kept promoting it since switching to politics in 1996.

 Drumming the doom and gloom story regarding our nuclear programme, the self-declared ‘patriots’ often disregard the reality that in spite of possessing a huge number of nuclear weapons, the USSR had collapsed in the end. But even after shrinking to Russia, this country still possesses the same weapons in huge quantities and due to them, Russia could still impose a war on countries like Ukraine.

The self-declared patriots also tend to forget that with the advent of the 1950s, the military and civil elite of Pakistan had enthusiastically decided to become “strategic ally” of the USA during its cold war against the former Soviet Union. Pakistan’s first military dictator, General Ayub Khan, rather took the credit of furnishing Pakistan with a ‘decade of development’ from 1958 to 1968, by feverishly seeking aid and loans from the US and its allies. Under their control, the World Bank and the IMF also turned generous to ensure ‘development’ in Pakistan. The story kept repeating itself during the ‘glorious’ and ‘modern’ eras of General Zia and General Musharraf. Still, the governments succeeding them could still not be forgiven for lacking the will and vision for eluding the debt trap. And the one headed by Imran Khan from 2018 to early 2022 had also not acted differently.

Yet the former finance minister, Shaukat Tarin, had the audacity to be sincerely upset over the melting down of our economy. Doing this, he tried to make us believe that things looked stunningly sunny and vibrant on the economic front, when he was heading the finance ministry. He employed simplistic logic to spin the story that things turned instantly berserk after the removal of Imran Khan from the Prime Minister’s Office in April this year.

Dr Ayesha Pasha, the minister of state for finance, tried to refute Shaukat Tarin while speaking like an academic economist. She didn’t realise that perceptions are far more important than reality in politics. A common Pakistani doesn’t have the time to patiently listen to the story that long hours of power cuts had returned with vengeance due to the derelict conduct of the previous government. Passionately pleading her case, she needed to focus on pressing the point that Independent Power Producers need the coal, furnace oil or gas to produce electricity.

The government ensures sufficient supply of these inputs by placing orders for them, much in advance. The Imran Khan government stopped doing the same, many weeks before its fall.

Doubly crippling is the circular debt. Without sufficient banging of these realities, you can’t convince an average Pakistani for not holding the current government solely responsible for the gloom, long hours of load shedding are generating these days.

When both sides of the House were obsessively busy in sickening point scoring, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami put pertinent questions on an entirely different issue, pregnant with the possibility of grave consequences.

He availed the privilege of raising questions on a “point of public interest,” for recalling media stories claiming that the defunct Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) was recently being engaged in serious negotiations. The leaders of this outfit mostly live in Afghanistan and Kabul was now pushing them to strike a deal for peace. The JI senator kept wondering whether the government led by Shehbaz Sharif was leading the process or it had been ‘outsourced’ to the people, operating above and beyond an elected Parliament.

In the given context, he specifically focused on the Pakistan Peoples Party. “After all,” the senator recalled without sounding ironical, “the PPP keeps expressing the desire that elected parliament should also articulate policies related to all matters of national security and closely supervise the execution of these policies.”

No minister was willing to address highly significant questions raised by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad. And this clearly exposed the limits of this government as well, like the ones preceding it when being headed by an elected prime minister.