‘Establishment Knows PM Imran’s Failure Is Due To Lack Of Vision’
Raza Rumi and Murtaza Solangi held a discussion with senior journalist Suhail Warraich over PM Imran’s decaying moral authority, anti-corruption mantra, failing populism hybrid governance model, and rising dissatisfaction regarding performance by the PTI government. PM Imran has been an icon of hope, and PTI an embodiment of aspirations of people of Pakistan promising ‘change’, according to Raza Rumi.
Khan has now all guns turned against him; both from within the party and the powerful military establishment. The latter and PM Khan are not on the same page anymore, said Warraich on the show while commenting on Imran Khan’s future.
PM Imran’s moral authority has eroded with passing years. Shehbaz Sharif is still favoured by the establishment, and is seen as a prospective prime minister even in Imran’s circles. Though Khan has so far been able to keep Shehbaz behind bars or inactive, that won’t continue for another two and a half years, Warraich believes.
It is plausible that eventually, Shehbaz Sharif will be freed and will persuade Nawaz Sharif to come to terms with establishment; as he has a reputation for counseling his brother, says Warraich. Raza Rumi asked him what role Maryam would have in this equation, considering that she has become face of the PMLN now during the past few months.
“Maryam has been bold, and charismatic, even more than Nawaz Sharif on some occasions. She’s become an anti-establishment icon and will be a force to be reckoned with during and after the next elections”, Warraich said.
For the breakup of PDM, Warraich blames Fazl ur-Rehman who forced PPP into a corner. “The demand of collective resignations from PPP was too much to ask from a party which was never consulted even on the meeting dates”, Warraich said citing a personal interaction with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “But Zardari’s inflammatory speech during PDM meeting was also uncalled for. Both sides have erred”, he said.
However, it is also regretful that a group (PDM) that gave hope of democratic freedoms disintegrated like this. Warraich wishes for it to reunite and continue pressurising the executive and establishment despite its inherent limitations.
The conversation also discussed the rift that seems to have occurred within PTI due to an emerging forward bloc led by Jahangir Khan Tareen. The latter’s show of strength the other day, with over a dozen MPAs and MNAs from the ruling PTI accompanying him to the banking court, is a threat to PM Imran Khan, says Raza. Warraich argues that Imran Khan wouldn’t be able to send a show cause notice to his MPs for this apparent defiance. “Can he afford to lose such a significant support base of formerly independent members? Imagine Shehbaz Sharif entrance in this scene”, he said.
Solangi asked if there was a possibility that Tareen could join PPP. No chance, said Warraich. “If Tareen’s group is pressed, there could be severe repercussions for PTI government”, he warned.
PTI also faces a tough test from Daska by-poll where PMLN enjoys urban support and could win if it succeeded in mobilising the support base in the city area, Warraich said.
The people do not seem to be happy with the performance of PTI government. The public in the Punjab would assess pragmatically, Raza Rumi says. Populist leaders usually tend to fail because they make tall claims but fail to deliver when tested. So is the case with PM Imran who has not set his priorities right, despite having been in power for two and a half years.
The PM and his government have no vision, adds Warraich over a question by Solangi.
It is ironic, says Raza, that PTI lost its support base so quickly. First, it was the establishment, then media and now Tareen. Media has always sided with Imran Khan since its privatization, encouraging his appearance on the screen, Raza mentions noting the shift in opposite direction.
Solangi wonders about PM Imran’s pious image in media, which is pushing a narrative that PM Imran is all good but his team is flawed. He wonders how this honeymoon turned into a nightmare! Lack of performance compounded with lack of vision and direction, says Warraich, adding that the abysmal performance of the government would discourage people from voting PTI again. Warraich believes that it would be more a loss for PTI rather than a win for the PMLN.
The ‘hybrid’ regime – a term coined by Kamran Khan who claimed the model was working well – also did not work in the case of Pakistan, says Rumi. Warraich argues: while in principle the support of establishment for a prime minister is a positive development, it has gone off the track. It should have been fair with other politicians as well. Instead, they were continuously persecuted and pushed into a corner.
Warraich sees seeds of rebellion in PTI if removed midterm like Nawaz Sharif. Imran will become aggressive, he thinks. “He has already hinted at dissolving assemblies”, Suhail Warraich reminded.
“If the opposition had not been pushed to the wall, there would have been no threat to PTI government today, Warraich concluded.