The rash and the emboldened
Imran Khan is certainly not a man of a few words. His innate appetite to speak and debate earned him astounding public support in 2013, when he voiced claims of rigging in the year’s highly anticipated General Elections. Now, two years later, the Judicial Commission rejects PTI’s rigging probe on evidentiary grounds, leaving Mr. Khan yearning for an ear or two to listen to his touching stories. Thus, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has become the legitimate product of PTI Chairman’s own political shortcomings. Khan’s limited sense of proportion, sustained self-righteousness and the tendency to disprove anything and everything in his path, has backfired beyond repair: the country awaits an apology.
For starters, the manner of approaching the problem was flawed. Instead of focusing on fact-finding, the party’s agenda was glamorized in a 126-day sit-in, rendering itself high on rhetoric and low on impact. The immediate economic repercussions of such self-indulgence included a 5.8% decline in four billion overall exports, as well as a record foreign investment slump to just 0.56 million ― complete stock market stagnation. In view of PTI’s hunger to evoke resignation out of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the former lent solid ammunition to the latter. The accused government gladly shifted the blame for country’s economic woes to PTI’s Dharna politics, the epicenter of which was Khan’s towering personality. As a result, the manner of approaching a problem got better off the nature of the problem. After all, even the most loyal supporters of PTI are subject to economic stability, and Nawaz needed only to recite that.
Secondly, precision is not exactly part and parcel of Khan’s decision-making. It is critical to agitational politics that when claims such as elections being rigged are made, the one making these allegations should be prepared to furnish evidence if and when needed. On record, Khan declared the results of the “entire elections” to be influenced by political-bias. And these claims were presented as evidence before the Judicial Commission. However, the Commission in it conclusive judgment, in paragraph C of the terms of reference, stated: “When the entire context of the elections are considered along with all the meaning of overall basis, despite some lapses by the ECP it cannot be said on the evidence before the commission on the overall basis the elections were not a true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the electorate.”
Instead of it serving as the moment of impartiality and liberation from the incompetent rule by PML (N), the Commission’s ruling turned that moment into its opposite. Against the hopes of PTI, the proclamation delivered a death blow to everything the party had fought for the past two years. At a minimum, PTI should have striven for the investigation from finishing abruptly. For instance, if nothing, it could have easily pleaded before the Judicial Commission to conduct interrogation of the accused members ― former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the Returning Officers. However, over the course of nearly 800 days since the initial assertions, the only evidence of plausibility by Khan’s party turned out to be ballot bags, the questionable counting of votes, and the ballot bags again.
Following the final verdict, the political order in the country has become iron-clad for the time being. Legitimacy of the PML-N government has been firmly established, not to be construed as a case of right or wrong, but as the outcome of what is favored by law itself. Sentiment-driven Imran Khan may never understand the political finalities established through law-driven conclusions. Khan’s egotistic aversion to law is substantiated by his own refusal to apologize to the Supreme Court for making baseless allegations. Thus, the JC verdict has left PTI in a state of wilderness. The party’s dilemma is underscored by the fact that it is once again willing to challenge the very judiciary it seeks justice from. That, in short, is an emboldened Nawaz Sharif’s post-election success story.
Now with a notable decrease in popular support and the widening rift within its own ranks, Khan’s remaining advocates are left starkly dispirited and bruised. For a man who has been given ample opportunities repeatedly to prove his worth, it is a pity to hear him still complaining for one.