Although coronavirus has sucked the ink off my pen and I have been unable to write since, two separate yet same apologias in favour of the Prime Minister have refilled my pen and the ink is red this time. One apologia came in the form of a prayer made by respectable Maulana Tariq Jameel and another recently in the form of an Op-Ed by an emerging and very talented journalist and TV anchor Shifa Yousafzai. With respect to both, the crux of their presentations is that everyone is bad: bureaucrats, civilians, working class and all the politicians including the ones in PTI. They all are thwarting the PM from developing the country and eroding the corruption from it. The word bizarre does not even do justice to this theory.
The apologists of PM Khan claim that many politicians inside the PTI are actually members of various mafia and just like other politicians, they too are constantly looking for ways to unjustly enrich themselves and consequently, undermine the robust efforts being made by the PM to put the house in order. This analysis is true to the extent that countless politicians may very well be looking for opportunities to multiply their wealth though this is exactly what Khan claimed to fix and has failed terribly. The funny thing is that no single entity has anyone been brought into spotlight for us to see as to who exactly is hampering the government from proceeding to the greatness that it keeps fantasizing about.
At the end of the day, it is just a theory and just one of those attempts to buy this government indefinite period of time. In essence, it is not the Khan who is being shielded from descent but rather the many obedient prime ministers to come. These PMs are likely to have nothing of substance but rather will most likely be prototypes of Imran Khan. The future analyses are likely to follow the same pattern that the PM brought in by the Big Boss is not being allowed to prosper by the corrupt civilian community; meaning again, all are bad but the PM.
Another apologia in favour of the weak chief ministers chosen by the PM comes in the form of an idea that since the PM was concerned about ‘the mafias’ in his own party he had no choice but to choose Usman Buzdar and Mahmood Khan because they were easily controllable and Khan could keep an eye on them. So, what we are being told is this: Khan could not find two trustworthy men to choose as chief ministers throughout his struggle of 22 years.
What does this tell about a man who claims to be a leader but no loyalty is to be seen in his followers, not even two of his hand picked followers which the leader once claimed had come to join his party on ‘his agenda’. So if the PM wants to survive on the proposition that he is good but his followers are bad then God help him.
Another major apologia the one more emphatically also highlighted by Shifa Yousafzai is that bureaucracy is a major impediment in the PM’s way. Here is how she puts it: “What Khan was left with were bureaucrats and those who were not concerned with Khan’s future or the promises he had made with the nation, most around him have no political stakes in the country. These people have no constituency; there is literally no one that they have to be accountable to. And I would call this a ‘Bureaucratic coup’ against the Prime Minister Imran Khan.” This presumption that bureaucracy is bad just to manifest the idea of Khan’s divine honesty is so unfair to all those bureaucrats who have given their lifelong services to Pakistan. It is so unfair that the man who can transfer them from one office to another at any time, the Prime Minister, is perhaps of the belief that honour belongs to him alone.
These bureaucrats are not devoted to any single party, however, there is no doubt that they may be inclined to work with one party or another and may even have ties to the either. However, it is neither part of their jobs to add to their job list a worry about the future of a prime minister nor is it their responsibility to deliver the promises which Imran Khan made. Undoubtedly, they do not have a constituency and have no political stakes. But does it mean that they are corrupt? Absolutely not. It is the work of individual honest government officials due to which this state is somehow surviving. To say that these bureaucrats are not accountable is another insult to them. They have a job description according to the positions they hold and have a code of conduct, rules and regulations. They come across frequent show-cause notices, get transferred by upset politicians, by the time they get justice from courts years are gone by and they keep working till the end. Each government official has tenure of around 30-35 years and as years go by, governments change. Let alone as to how mercilessly National Accountability Bureau (NAB) unhesitatingly arrest them and then asks them to give evidence against themselves. Therefore, to say that they are the troublemakers is substantially incorrect and just another apology.
And the last but not the least, enemy which has been recently added to the list after having been taken advantage of for decades is the media. Again, just like bureaucrats, media has a job description of its own and its job has never been to inspire people to like a certain leader and hate the other. Even then, ever since the later 2000s, media made this a part of their job description to help Imran Khan become the prime minister of today. However, now that Imran Khan is in power and that the dreams have been shattered, there is only so much that the media can do. A TV anchor, journalist, photographer have to report, question in the public domain. How can they overnight turn into PR professionals?
For instance, if a decision of the PM can clearly be seen to have been gone wrong and the TV anchor keeps saying it was otherwise, ultimately it will disgust the audience. That is why you may have seen analysts such as Hassan Nisar and Irshad Bhatti who will not praise Imran Khan in these circumstances but use alternative quotations such as “I am still hopeful”, “Khan has no stomach for politics as only the corrupt can survive in this arena” etc.; or they would start bashing Nawaz Sharif and Zardari even more than they used to in order to ultimately praise Imran Khan. Again, this exercise cannot possibly be prolonged indefinitely.
Since many apologetic anchors and analysts have now changed their stance, media is also being portrayed as an enemy of the Khan.
The only enemy the PM has is the PM himself, the man who only knows how to take it, not give it back. I have time and again emphasized in my writings that it is just not possible to run a state by this most recent formula of 50:50; some men from the establishment and some favourites of the PM running the state as if it were a merger of two bakeries. Governments do not make cakes and pastries they have to worry about the lives of millions at every second of the day.
Overall, this government has invariably been more concerned about how its governance is being perceived than how it actually is. Even the crises as intense as coronavirus could not help reverse this disposition.
The author is a barrister practicing law in Peshawar and Islamabad. He graduated from Cardiff University. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.