Is Imran Khan Planning To Take A Stand Against Establishment?
Talha Javed analyses the PTI government’s frustration over the way former PM Nawaz Sharif went abroad, without giving the surety bond that they had demanded of him. Will this frustration lead to a policy shift?
In the wake of Lahore High Court (LHC)’s decision to allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment, the supporters of ruling party are disappointed. They are so disappointed in the system that some of the PTI leaders have started saying things which dissenters in the country have been saying all along. Minister Faisal Vawda, during a discussion on TV, appeared upset over Nawaz’s departure and said that the law should not discriminate between the powerful and the weak. He proceeded to say that ‘institutions’ should also be answerable like politicians. Who would have thought the PTI minister who is known for his inane remarks over serious political matters would talk sense?! This leads me to a broader question: Is PTI on its way to transform into an anti-establishment party?
It may be too early to predict such a thing. Because Faisal Vawda’s statement was immediately disowned by another representative of the ruling party. However, the minister’s statement does tell us a thing or two about what people in the ruling party are thinking.
The cabinet sub-committee which was tasked to give recommendations over whether or not Nawaz Sharif should be removed from the country’s no-fly list delayed the process unnecessarily. And finally, the proposal they came up with was absurd to say the least. The government demanded Nawaz be made to pay surety bond worth 7.5 billion before his release. And this was done so the ruling party could tell its core constituency that the ‘corrupt’ Nawaz was not allowed to escape so easily. He first gave back the money he had ‘looted’ from the national kitty, and only then was his release made possible. But the government certainly did not anticipate that such a demand would be rejected by the court. It is a failure on the part of the government’s legal advisers.
And then the disgruntled Imran Khan addressed the top judges including Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and told them that the judiciary needs to ‘restore public trust’ and that the nation wants equal treatment for the powerful and weak segments. But the chief justice did not agree with the PM and delivered a strong rebuttal. He said that the PM had himself allowed ‘someone’ (his Lordship was referring to Nawaz Sharif’) to go abroad.
“We disqualified a PM and jailed another. Stop blaming us for your failures,” the chief justice said.
The PM asked his ministers and party representatives not to respond to the CJ’s remarks, but it is a significant development that the disagreement between the two state officials is out in the open.
Imran Khan and his ministers are clearly unhappy with the way things turned out and how Nawaz Sharif was allowed to leave the country. And it gives an impression that it was not the PM’s own decision. So was Imran Khan pressured by the establishment to let Nawaz Sharif go abroad? His frustration does suggest so. And if it is indeed true, it may mean that the establishment’s blue-eye boy is unhappy with his mentors, which means there are interesting times ahead! Let’s see if Imran Khan finally realises what civilian supremacy means and takes a stand against the establishment.
The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.