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Pakistan's politics of confrontation: Is it a lost game for Imran Khan?

It is, however, apparent that Imran Khan and his aides have forgotten the norms of political battles a long ago

Nizam Hassan Mar 28, 2022
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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo: Dawn)

Pakistan is standing on a political crossroad. With the announcement of a Vote of No Confidence by the opposition, political discourses have taken an ugly turn. The opposition, which seems to be confident of its numerical strength, is determined to oust the Prime Minister. An ugly smog of confrontational and abusive politics has taken shape though this isn’t a new phenomenon in a country where such wars are seldom fought with sane democratic voices.

As the ground under him slips, Imran Khan and his close aides will fail to win the game as long as they resort to undemocratic language. The cabinet ministers are too busy in the usual politics of confrontation which hardly leave a good impression. Many are accusing Khan of galvanizing his support base by relying on populist rhetoric and politics of confrontation. The establishment’s neutral gear is bound to lead to further harsh blows.

Furthermore, Imran Khan ended with an unwise call to his PTI supporters to storm the D-Chowk on March 28 – the day the confidence vote is due. Some are comparing it to the storming of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters. If PTI supporters do storm D-Chowk, the repercussions will be severe. 

It is, however, apparent that Imran Khan and his aides have forgotten the norms of political battles a long ago. His ministers are resorting to confrontational politics to win a lost game. 

On the other hand, the members of the opposition are actively calling meetings day in and day out with claims of having almost 200 members on their side. The saga of floor crossings and the number game are adding new twists in the game. Till now, the opposition has taken sober steps.

Political instability

Imran Khan had a long duration in which he could have averted the fiasco. Now the ball seems to be in the hands of the opposition which is throwing it where it hurts the Prime Minister the most. If the situation is seen through the prism of gain and loss, Imran Khan has also lost the support of the establishment which must be most painful for him. Therefore, he is leaning on populist rhetoric, including passing a bill in the UN against growing Islamophobia and his start criticism of the West. 

As the tug-of-war rages, ordinary citizens are concerned because they will face the repercussions that follow instability. With a debilitated and broken back, it will pose the hardest blows to Pakistan, which has been passing through a torturous economic pathway for the past three consecutive years under Imran Khan’s rule. 

If Imran Khan and his ministers want to save their remaining political career, avoiding bad choices is the only way forward.

(The writer is a journalist from Balochistan, Pakistan.He tweets at @NizamHassan10) 

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