Pakistan: Bucking the odds

Barring a few odd elements, Khan’s rise and fall narrative could be found in any tome of history. He came, he saw, and he conquered. Even his detractors would admit in silos that he single-handedly swept the country’s political scene away, through his charisma and killing confidence. So much so that he truly started believing in his ‘invincibility’ and ‘inevitability’. The mythical widespread popularity further cemented his self-belief rather disproportionately. In the process and to the dismay of many, he utilized close ‘friends’ and readily available ‘crutches’ almost ruthlessly. He did not select his team prudently and this was made evident from the developments of the past week. From top to bottom, numerous party leaders, including Brutus and Cassius, have left him high and dry by parting ways with him.
The Citadel is being dismantled by the same company which constructed it in 2018.
Clearly, Khan became an iconic magician who had all kinds of rabbits in his hat. Ostensibly, he had solutions to every problem under the Sun. But then what happened that he now finds himself in all sorts of problems? Why have the skies fallen on him? The simple answer is…… he asked for it…!! In trying to assess his future, political pundits have diverse opinions. Some maintain that he is a fighter and plays till the last ball is delivered. They feel that he will rise from the ashes like a phoenix and even if PTI is banned, a TIP or ITP could emerge as a new-look political party, with Khan at the helm.
Looking at the developments since 9th May, his age, and the overdue process of economic recovery, others are skeptical about his political future. To this group, his game is over. Curtains drawn. He will be lucky if the concerned authorities spare him incarceration or let him go abroad to find some occupation in the cricketing world. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists are already speculating about a-soon-to-be-staged Khan appearance on tv for reading out a handwritten note to ‘Merey Pakistanio’ wherein certain unheard-of admissions will be made….!!
On one hand, Khan’s unrivaled ‘knowledge’ about world history, geography, geopolitics, leadership, geoeconomics, foreign policy, and international relations earned him a special place in his supporters’ hearts who started equating him with world luminaries like Lee Kuan Yew, Mahathir Muhammad, and even Martin Luther King Jr. On the other hand, he kept reminding one of Stevie Wonder’s 1970’s hit song …... He’s a man, with a plan, got a counterfeit dollar in his hand, he’s Misstra know-it-all….!!
The question is: If he knew everything, he should’ve known that traditionally, civilians do not interfere in khaki decisions. If he knew everything, he should’ve also known that the Institution is much more powerful than its head at a given time. Heads of an Organization come and go but the Institutional memory remains. By holding back an official khaki notification, he drew ‘first blood.’ The rest is history…!!!
Regardless of his political future, Khan, by default, has favoured all those individuals who are interested in bringing a ‘change’ in Pakistan or achieving ‘true independence’, by leaving some valuable guidelines. Surprisingly, all these ‘lessons-learned’ were taught to all of us in school. Nothing new. For instance, without realizing that the election dates were not in his hand and that some ‘unfinished agenda’ awaited the attention of the powers that be, he presumed that his party would sweep the elections, thus, forgetting the age-old proverb, ‘Don’t count the chickens before they hatch’.
The game of defying logic and wisdom that started soon after his becoming the PM continued even after his unceremonious exit as the country’s Chief Executive. Khan could have dissolved the Assemblies before the NCM was admitted. He didn’t. Thus, he lost the sense of ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ and subsequently, defying the wisdom in ‘Haste makes waste’, he dissolved the provincial Assemblies where his party was in majority, in the blink of an eye.
Perhaps, the only time he listened to the logic in ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ was when he welcomed all ‘electable’ candidates in the party to win elections and become the Prime Minister. Concerned about the numbers game, he conveniently overlooked some of the die-hard party workers, even denied some a ticket, and left them wondering about their loyalty towards him. Incidentally, he refused to follow the same wisdom when asked to hold his horses, sit with other parties, and find a middle ground to address the ever-increasing political uncertainty. Here, he did what Romans would not do in Rome. Any student of philosophy would term this an intellectual U-turn.
During his around four-year term as PM, no one in his close circles dared to advise him that ‘Actions speak louder than words’. Dreaming about a clean sweep in the next election, the party leaders did not confront him, thereby feeding his known idiosyncrasies. Sitting on the fence, they kept worried albeit knowing full well that, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’.
The last nail in the coffin? Khan drove the erstwhile friendly powers up the wall and committed the cardinal sin of overlooking a sterling lesson: ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you’. The entire nation is aware of those ‘hands’ which first fed him and later kept nursing their wounds until their ‘red lines’ were crossed. They also learned that putting all the eggs in one basket was after all not a good idea. It was now too difficult to keep turning a blind eye to what was happening in the country. Hence, the ongoing ‘Operation Clean-up’. Better late than never….!!!!
What next? A new Citadel will be constructed using the existing construction material available in stock. Seemingly, the Shepherd has already started gathering the hitherto wandering sheep to provide milk, skins, meat, and the requisite wool. Birds of the same feather will flock together, and the 235 million people of Pakistan will live happily thereafter….!!!

The writer is a former Ambassador of Pakistan and author of eight books in three languages. He can be reached at

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