PTI-Where Love Has Gone?
During scorching heat, unbearable price hikes, muzzled media, and a state of economic gloom in the country, who can think about tender feelings and a delicate emotion like love? Well, someone will have to if you are a government under siege by a hostile Opposition, supported rightly or wrongly (or both), by a duly irritable media and internal and external dynamics beyond your control. Let us not forget that love can also be selfish, impatient and insecure. It makes mistakes, can go out of control, and every so often is difficult to manage. But if you cannot handle it when going gets tough, you do not deserve the good times that might lie ahead.
According to dispassionate observers, PTI government may be doing better than expected under the circumstances. Due to a favorable international climate and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s steady stewardship, our foreign policy may appear to be going from strength to strength.
The anti-corruption drive, now better supported by the National Accountability Bauru (NAB) and the Judiciary, is also beginning to bite where, when, and whom it should hurt the most. Both of these happening-fronts are keeping the public perception suitably occupied while folks are desperately busy in making their both ends meet. Under these conditions, the Opposition may be able to change the Senate Chairman, mount limited pressure through occasional but big public meetings or even rouse some street protests, but these would not be enough to rattle the government.
I have no doubt that things are going to get better in the future. The question is whether it happens within the present set-up or different people in a different framework will take credit and enjoy the fruits of success when it arrives. Imran Khan is new to political power and its mechanics.
After reading heaps and heaps of official files in the last eleven months, he has just about realized that he does not need to do that; civil savants are employed for this very purpose. He might find out sometime in the future that he does not need to hold as many meetings; most of these can be delegated to responsible ministers/adults in the government/party. He needs to get out there instead; supporting, encouraging and exciting his workforce. What he has found out by default though is how powerful the office of the prime minister can be. Before it is too late, he needs to realize that perceived evil cannot be driven out by wickedness; only the virtuous can do that. Hatred cannot be driven out through aversion either: only tenderness can do that.
When I was younger, I used to fancy Elle Macpherson “the body”. This is until I shared a house with someone who knew her very well. When she heard me yearning for her endlessly, she advised me very seriously that if you really found her (and she was visiting soon) you would not know what to do with her. Leaving the rest of this story to another time, I feel Khan has absolutely no idea what to do with the power he has found. The way it has been used on his behalf against Rana Sanaullah and now against the miserable-looking Irfan Siddiqui, it leaves nothing to the imagination. They are no angels we know, but getting so petty in the name of vengeance or anger basically betrays panic and a loss of control. Unfortunately, vengeance and anger, both are paralyzing emotions and you cannot get anything else done in their presence. Khan may not have known (because people often try and please a PM without his/her knowledge) until after these actions took place, but the Plutonian measure of a man is actually what he (or others on his behalf) do with the power they have.
I wonder what the PTI faithful really feel about their government which is about to have its first anniversary. Do they truly believe, their PM and his government have turned their world around? Do they believe, their hopes, dreams, and goals for the future are still alive? How many wonderful things have been achieved, which they can’t wait to tell others about? How many times have they been embarrassed, cried or laughed when they felt like fools? How often they have felt under pressure, jealous or even calm about the country’s situation? Can they be honest, and not worry about what others think of them because the party loves them and knows who and where they are? How often have they been happy except when the PM returned from the US recently? Have they ever opened their heart to someone that there’s a chance they will never experience the glory they had dreamed of? How often they found strength in knowing that they have a PM who remains loyal to their ideals?
A vast majority of the young, educated, liberal, professional and middle-class folks either joined or felt excited about PTI, at home and abroad, because of one man: Asad Umar. Where is he now? He became a scapegoat for the PM’s flawed decision-making ability otherwise branded as “U-turn” by the PTI adversaries. Anyone can make a mistake or take a different approach to solve a problem, but no sane politician or a manager waste a rare talent at his disposal. Asad Umar has become a classic example of the proverbial ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ for this government.
As a result, PTI has no real believers at the heart of its government except Murad Saeed (raw passion) and Zartaj Gull (good to look at) to keep the grassroots energized, deliver on its promises, and prepare the party for the future. As its original brand ambassador, Asad brings faith, substance, magic, integrity, and intellect but, most importantly, a moral of hope for the fairy-tale of PTI. If they still want to strive for good, promote change, and also carry to the torch, he needs to come to the front-bench where he belongs.
All great successes are built on ideals and values. The word on the street is that PTI is slipping, and slipping badly. Khan needs to realize that he is the PM now. When a PM thinks aloud that he wants to fix his adversaries, the state machinery goes into a subconscious overdrive for compliance. In this process, people who are more loyal than the king, may go ahead and commit atrocities which may come back to haunt him for the rest of his life. Things have actually happened in this country when precious lives were cut short by default or design when a word of mouth got wrongly translated into actions that went beyond control. Things move slowly in Pakistan; the same wishes will still come true, but they take a few more months. What is the hurry then? Why give a rope to the people seeking extensions to hang you with it (while covertly energizing the Opposition) when the time is right? We have been here before. Not sure whether the PM realizes that the time is on his side, for now. If he is so keen on playing the game called Monopoly, patience is the biggest virtue.
I am not sure it would actually happen but things could still spiral out of control in about three months’ time. In addition to improving governance and avoiding the very obvious mistakes, PTI needs to go back to its basics by empowering the youth and fostering their original passion for fairness, equality, and poverty alleviation along with relatively liberal values where they can feel, give/take, get lost/found, dance, and be human again. The battle against the corruption may continue, but not because you hate who is in front of you, but because you are that passionate about what is behind you. If they still perish in the bloodless bath that ensues, it would at least be fighting for the right cause and in style rather than due to triviality and pure dullness. PTI should always be about their passion; when in doubt, consult the doctor, Dr. Che that is, “Every day People straighten up the hair, why not the heart?”.
*The writer is Political Psychiatrist based in London.
M. Aamer Sarfraz is a philosophical psychiatrist based in London.