Cult leadership

As the dust settles down on Tufail Road and the smoldering Jinnah house starts the process of national catharsis, we were wondering as to where we have gone wrong. PTI’s mercurial rise to power was supported by the state and young people of Pakistan and this plant was nurtured with the hope that it will provide an alternate political force that could put Pakistan on a trajectory of peace and prosperity. Gradually PTI leadership started developing a cult of followers where Khan sahib was almost projected as the Avatar of the Qaum and this incarnation turned into a new prosopopoeia. Khan sahib could never commit any mistakes, his blunders were defined as ‘style’ and his diplomatic shenanigans as a new style of statesmanship. While this helped Imran Khan to consolidate his popularity amongst disenfranchised youth in search of the ultimate messiah, it created a misperception in his close and loyal circle of Khan as a man of crises and a strongman of Pakistan, who could turn dust into gold. The word Murshad, instead of leader, became a norm in PTI. So comments like “Allah pak meray Murshad ko salamat rakhna”,and “Meray Murshid ki Murshid tashreef lain hein” became very common. Was it deliberately spread in the youth of PTI to achieve some nefarious designs, like David Koresh of Waco, Texas? This needs some incisive analysis.

For those who don’t know David Koresh, he was an American cult leader born as Vernon Wayne Howell on August 17, 1959, and was a key figure in the 1993 Waco siege. Newsweek and BBC reports published in the 90s suggest that Koresh asserted to be the final prophet of the theological cult known as the Branch Davidians, which was a branch of the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists. His interpretations of the Book of Revelation and the Seven Seals, as well as his apocalyptic Biblical teachings, drew a variety of adherents. Koresh, who came from a troubled family, joined the Branch Davidians, an organization founded at the Mount Carmel Centre outside of Waco, Texas, and first directed by Benjamin Roden. George, the son of Benjamin Roden, and Koresh fought for supremacy here until Koresh and his followers seized control of Mount Carmel in 1987. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and later the FBI conducted a raid on the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel property in February 1993 as a result of more charges regarding the group’s alleged stockpile of weapons. Koresh was shot by ATF personnel during the 51-day siege and the ensuing carnage, and he later passed away from an undetermined gunshot wound as the compound was being burned down. 79 Branch Davidians perished in the ensuing blaze; 21 of these victims were children under the age of 16. Another example of cult leadership is the Peoples Temple which was established by Jim Jones and was moved to California in 1965. By using messianic language to describe himself and asserting that he was the reincarnation of historical figures like Christ and Buddha, he veered away from the orthodox Christian teachings. However, there were already indications that the Peoples Temple had a dark undercurrent. In 1978, Jim Jones ordered the 900 cult members to consume cyanide-laced punch, who followed it without a second thought, thus ending the cult of Jones in a tragic collective suicide.

PTI’s burning spree of military garrisons and installations resembles the siege of Waco with one difference, David Koresh had a lesser following and perished with the followers, Khan has gone into a state of denial and is abandoning the PTI youth by absolving himself from these acts of defiance and assault on the state. 9th May did not erupt suddenly; it was nurtured for at least the past seven months. After being ousted from power in April 2022, Imran Khan and his loyalists built a false narrative with a bottom line, “Pakistan Army was the albatross hanging in the neck of Pakistan, and it had to be sorted out, as per wishes of the cult leader”. If anyone feels this perception was not built by PTI, I suggest that he or she should go through hundreds of speeches made by PTI and its core team and the filthy social media campaigns launched by PTI against the Pak Army and ISI. What were the objectives of this sleaze campaign? It aimed at subversion in Army and ISI and creating a wedge between senior leadership and the rank and file. It also tried to break the chain of command of the Pakistan Army by the constant assault on the very mechanism of how the Army functions; storytelling, trivia, slur and dark gossip was initiated on Social Media, especially through a coterie of disgruntled and run away retired officers of Pakistan Army settled abroad. These disgruntled officers, who champion their loyalties to PTI, have continued to run highly damaging and abusive campaigns against the top leadership of the Pakistan Army and ISI leadership. Strangely these so-called champions of democracy and proponents of revolution have never tried to criticize the governments of their adopted countries and have primarily focused on Pakistan Army and ISI. Sushant Sareen, the top Pakistan specialist of R&AW run Observer Research Foundation has recently expressed his desire that he would prefer to have Imran Khan as Pakistan’s Prime Minister as Khan has divided Pakistan, destroyed its economy, destroyed its diplomatic relations with friendly countries and attacked the Pakistan Army, the actual center of gravity of Pakistan. If one analyses the agenda of PTI oversees social media teams and V loggers, there is a commonality of their objectives with what Sushant Sareen has desired. They live in a utopian universe, which actually does not exist on the ground, these disillusioned Che Guevara’s think that Sun shines from Imran Khan’s head and he is the ultimate leader born on this side of the Atlantic in the past 1000 years. The assault on Pakistan Army garrisons and cantonments was the manifestation of the hate and poison injected into the minds of PTI youth brigades in the past seven months. Khan sahib thought that the assault on Pakistan Army would bring down its credibility, demean the chain of command, disenfranchise the rank and file and bring in an internal implosion within the Army, leading to a revolt against Army across Pakistan.

Fortunately, the Army rank and file remained united, exercised restraint, even at the cost of dent to its reputation, and defeated the nefarious designs of PTI and its fascist leadership. What lies ahead for PTI is almost the smoldering Waco of David Koresh.

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