Home Lightbox This Is No 20-Over Game, Mr. Khan

This Is No 20-Over Game, Mr. Khan

by Ejaz Haider

Ejaz Haider

PTI supporters at the May 11 rally. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

PTI supporters at the May 11 rally. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

The PTI chief’s puzzling behavior.

Most people can shoot themselves in the foot, but it takes a special kind to then put that injured foot in their mouth. Imran Khan belongs to that rare latter category.

Who advises him is, of course, a deep mystery. Whoever it is, Mr. Khan will do himself and his followers a lot of good by firing his current advisers and hiring people who actually have a head on their shoulders. And, horror of horrors, if he is advising himself, he should superannuate himself.

Some might find these words harsh. In fact, many in the cult called the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will. But if the PTI genuinely wants to raise its stature to the level of a national political party, its 8 million voters need to start questioning whether the ebb and flow of Mr. Khan’s juices and the passionate flailing of his arms can indeed become a substitute for serious thinking.

In strategy there is a simple rule. Like all simple things, it is complex: Never try to hold on to everything or you will be left holding nothing. Mr. Khan has raised concerns about the 2013 elections, the same exercise that gave his party the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He had raised concerns about rigging in some constituencies and we supported him on the verification of votes. Similar concerns were raised by other parties. Circumstantial evidence suggests that there were irregularities in some constituencies. Mr. Khan’s demand that the Election Commission verify votes in a minimum of four constituencies was and remains valid. I defended that position then and I will defend it now.

So, what’s the problem?

For one, Mr. Khan has a remarkable knack of losing friends even when he is not entirely wrong. That takes hard work. Considering that he’s rarely not-entirely wrong, one would think retaining friends would be high on his priority list. Alas, that obvious sense, common enough, seems to elude him.

Take his current stance. Not only has he begun objecting to the larger result of the 2013 elections, a not-so-subtle movement away from the original, rather measured concerns about some constituencies, his timing and manner of doing so have raised multiple questions.

He has accused Geo News of being a party to the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) win. The accusation, if it goes to a court, will be laughed out. The Geo management has already responded point-wise to his accusations. He has also alleged that there is a nexus between the PMLN and the Jang Group, which owns Geo. This move, interestingly, has come at a time when Geo has fallen foul of the military, and GHQ is also in a tense relationship with the PMLN government.

Not only this, as if on cue, Geo’s rival channels, notably Express News, ARY News, Dunya and Samaa covered Mr. Khan’s May 11 rally with much fanfare, with talking heads giving him full support and, in some cases, doing so rather crudely. And they did so not because they believed in that analysis but because they toed the line of their owners.

From a measured demand that votes in some constituencies be verified, Mr. Khan has now chosen to cast doubts over the entire exercise. From a credible position which implied that his party might have lost some seats to irregularities in some constituencies, he is now implying that but for those irregularities, the PTI would have been in power. In doing this, he has now cast the net wide and is making wild accusations that no sensible person can support.

The problem, quite apart from anything else, is that even if he wins—or had won—the constituencies he says were denied him, he would still be far from being able to form the federal government. Surely, he can do simple math.

The point thus is not whether there should be vote verification in the disputed constituencies. There must be. Equally, there should be electoral reform. The relevant question here is about the timing and manner of Mr. Khan’s accusations and the larger perception that he is working on an agenda to destabilize the government. Worse, that in doing so he might be dancing to someone else’s tune. And it gets even worse: there are multiple other groups, dubious rightwing entities like Difa-e-Pakistan, who are doing the same thing. Does Mr. Khan understand the concept of principal contradiction?

As the head of a political party which is also governing one of the most troubled provinces in the country, Mr. Khan should be concerned about such perceptions. Instead, he seems to be plunging right into the twister. Given that, there are only two possibilities: either he has lost the plot or he believes that there is a bigger prize awaiting him. On the latter count, he couldn’t be more wide of the mark. As for the other possibility, that would be in keeping with his passionate decline on most issues.

I feel unhappy. Imran Khan could have done much. As I wrote in a piece for The Express Tribune two years ago, PTI had the potential to provide a choice within the civilian spectrum, away from the Pakistan Peoples Party and the PMLN. In fact, during a recent visit to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, I found that the PTI government is trying to do some good things. Yet, Mr. Khan, instead of focusing on the province and building his credentials from there, is wasting his and his supporters’ energies on issues that, far from working in his favor, are working against him. He needs to do some serious thinking and not just on the basis of anecdotal ‘wisdom’ of which he is fraught with but through serious reading and analysis. He is fast squandering that potential.

Let me give an example of how flawed his strategy was in Lahore. He kept attacking the PMLN for the ‘jangla’ bus, a project the PMLN government had actually completed and which the people appreciated—forget reasons for which it can be criticized—rather than pinning the PMLN down on what it hadn’t done. Mr. Khan’s and his party’s sense of strategy is strategic indeed!

Recently, in an interview I asked him about the reasons for Pakistan’s mercurial performance in the cricket field. He told me that was because we cannot build and manage our innings. We are generally good in the short 20-over format but begin to lose it in the longer versions of the game. Mr. Khan is right. Only, he needs to understand that he is not playing a 20-over match either.

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TKhan May 12, 2014 - 6:19 pm

‘Who advises him’? Imran Khan is like George W. Bush, in a way. He gets his mission statement from God ( and some Pirs?). So, no worries for this new-born Muslim.

Humzee May 12, 2014 - 9:36 pm

The point is aptly made to fire his advisers and learn to take good advice secondly prove his mettle in kp and next election is his and it could be mid term however if he doesn’t do these two things kiss politics bye bye

Sehar Tauqeer May 12, 2014 - 10:35 pm

Excellent Piece by Ejaz Haider

Faisal May 13, 2014 - 10:47 am

This piece sounds more like an outburst of your emotion than a really thought-out analysis. For one example, take your ‘jangla’ bus example. IK’s attacking of this metro bus project directly implied that a whole lot of other things could be done with the same money. So, yes, attacking this bus in his election campaign means attacking what PML-N did not do because they wasted all the funds on a single project.

That ‘PTI should focus on development in KPK’ is nowadays on everyone’s lips, even though they acknowledge, in the same breath, that much has been already visible and that it has been not even a year of PTI government there.

Knack of losing friends? Well, here we are contradicting ourselves. At one hand we want him and judge him as a principled man, someone who stands firm on merit and all. Then on the other hand we want him to care for who leaves him?

Your whole point is that Khan should not generalize the four-constituency-demand to the whole 2013 election. Valid to some extent but then what else do you say when election commission does not move, election tribunals does not move, the courts do not move, the supreme court does not move on your petitions? And remember the chief election commissioner (fakhroo bhai) resigns, chairman NADRA (Tariq Malik) resigns, FAFEN casts doubt on several NA seats, the few opened cases show cast votes being many times higher than the registered votes, and the speaker of the National Assembly has gotten a stay order against vote recounting in his winning seat for the past seven months? Remember, IK always said the whole election was rigged. He always said that it was a mega scam but he suggested only four cases to demand something that is viable.

Attitude Adjuster May 13, 2014 - 11:39 am

OMG See the picture of charged crowd chanting slogans in favour of Imran Khan
and read the article which is quite contrary, Ejaz Haider is pseduo intellectual, HUH

mskhan May 13, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Ejaz, not sure whether you read the comments but I would rather be optimist and have a go anyways. A kind of rebuttal to your thesis. And, for whatever it is worth, I am not one of those ardent, fanatic supporters of IK. Dislike to the NS and Zardari was the main reason.

It is a settled issue that the 2013 elections were far from free or fair. But then none has been in Pakistan’s history. So what if another one bites the dust. Well, it matters. It matters because free and fair elections are the only path to Pakistan’s progress. A free and fair election will infuse fear in the hearts and minds of our chosen one. They will know that they have to perform or else. I wish it was this simple, but like you said, all simple things are complex. But that’s the crux of the argument.

So if IK demands decisions by tribunals to clear the sword hanging over the elections he is right. You and I both agree. And I am sure most sane people do as well. However, the politics of this is the problem. The seats include those of the house speaker and railways minister. Thats where the politics takes precedence over democracy. Imagine, if the tribunals find fault with these two seats, what kind of pandora’s box it would open. Then I believe there is a NS seat as well. Imagine all that. And only God knows (probably ROs and Mr. Sethi as well) what transpired on the election night. So, this is not just about 4 seats. Its about the whole election. And PTI, PPP, PMLN and MQM know it. All of them know it.

Now, it does not mean all the problems were in Punjab only. Far from this. Karachi to Khyber there were issues and problems. But Punjab, like or not, is the seat of power. Things have to be sorted out here. As the election came result came about, it looked like someone reaching a tacit understanding who will get what piece of the pie. They knew IK was a signficant force in Punjab and I think did their best to ensure that he doesn’t get a foothold in Lahore. And did it successfully. In return, they never minded that KP is with PTI, where IK can be confined to and marginalised. To make him only a regional politician instead of a national leader. Both PPP and PMLN worked on it.

Any person knowing IK well, would tell you that he is not a person who can be happy with something handed out to him. He fights for it. He has not accepted results in Punjab for a good reason. He knows any national party has to get its strength from Punjab. In the hay days of PPP, the heavyweights came from Punjab. That was the beauty of PPP in those times.

There is a reason PPP is not in this because they know what they did on the election night. They are watching from the fence and will jump when they see the opportunity is there. You can take this to the bank. So would MQM in Karachi.

So, coming back to the current actions and rhetoric. I believe this is pressure tactics to force the courts and government to let the tribunals function and render decisions. But a larger view would be to force electoral reforms. One year has passed and no electoral reform has taken place. None. Two years from now, the govt will give excuses by saying not enough time left to do anything worthwhile. So, status quo will remain. And then same story will be repeated.

We will not be a better nation for want of electoral reforms. It seems he is the only one fighting for this. He know if you leave this govt to itself, it will not move a finger. Come the senate elections, PMLN will have majority in both houses of the parliament. Try doing something for the benefit of the common man or the country or the nation. I am not optimist.

Irfan Ahmad Roheela May 13, 2014 - 3:01 pm

Yes, through the said four constituencies probe, PTI would not be in that much benefit the sort of massive loss it would bring to PML(N). Mr. Khan’s critics reflect his embarrassment over the reluctance of state machinery to go for 4-constituencies’ recount, he is demanding since long.

Javaid Bashir May 13, 2014 - 10:14 pm

Mr. Haider’s analysis is completely flawed, and his arguments are not based on realty. He has done great injustice to Khan and Company. PTI and its leadership has taken the right stand on the matter of rigging in the elections. No one can deny these accusations’ truth. No sane person can believe in Mr.Hatder’s diatribe and rhetoric.

The Election Commission miserably failed to deliver. It has not fulfilled its commitment to hold free,fair and transparent elections.Can Mr. Haider tell us did the Commission honor its commitment ? Certainly not. Mr Khan and his party.is correct in asking for the check of thumb impression. Why the government has not resolved this matter even after one year of elections ? Why it has taken so long for te courts to give verdict either way.

We can not expect anything good coming out of this decadent system.So the fault lies with the system .Mr. khan does not need advisers. He can make up his own mind.He does not need a baby sitter to tell him what to do ?Mr Haider should keep his advice for Sharif brothers,who need lot of guidance.

These analysts need a medical checkup to fund out their fitness mental and otherwise.

khalidmurad1 May 13, 2014 - 11:47 pm

Ejaz has completely confused the issue and failed to give a logical conclusion. As known Nawaz is a test tube production of General Zia at the Military Laboratory to be used as a dot for the Bhutto Party. Even funds were provided to strengthen the dot by creating IJI, but due to sudden demise of General Zia, Nawaz couldn’t be logically trained and processed. This resulted in an immature, jumping, vibrating bazooka Nawaz with Saudi Monarch like trend. Instead of wisely treating and utilizing capable strong institutions and people, Nawaz has started fighting and banging his head with everyone, starting from Ghulam Ishaq Khan, till Musharraf. Now with Misaq-e-Jamhuriat, Nawaz and Zardari have agreed to take their turns.
Indians have caught the weakness of Nawaz, i.e. his investment in India and using him like Mujeeb-ur-Rehman of East Pakistan, with a “Gutka” of “Greater Punjab”. In place of “Mukti Bahinis” they have prepared TTP, BLA and a team of mullahs including Burqa Mullah. Resultantly Nawaz has started singing Aman ki Tamasha, Visa free borders, India as MFN, free trade, which is not only alarming, but shameful, for normal Pakistanis.
We should be self dependent country as we were during Ayub’s time or Musharraf was
getting Pakistan relieved of IMF Loans etc. Dealing with American donors may be
embarrassing, but getting under the financial liabilities of Hind-Hoo Banias will be very torturous and humiliating for even our coming generations. These Hindu are already selling their Dalit Women as prostitutes and Dalit men as slaves. Indians have been graded as the “Biggest Human Smuggler”, at the International level, by Washington Post and Newyork Times.
It is a very good sign that people like Qadri and Imran Khan have raised their voice against this subservient trend. It is hoped that all other patriotic aprties like MQM, APML and PML – Q will also join them and throw out these Hindu loving parties.

M. Saeed Harris May 14, 2014 - 11:02 pm

Mr. Haider,
I hope you read all the comments and majority of the observers here in this forum have challenged your naivete.
Please read your own write-up before sharing your views in public.

Ahmad Malik May 15, 2014 - 8:56 am

Good One

moazam Jahangir May 17, 2014 - 2:21 pm

That’s a real master-piece in one page. Ejaz Haider you have grabbed the right vein. I think people of Pakistan & PTI blind followers in particular will understand in coming years what you hinted today. So be ready you gonna be grilled without skewers (I must say).

Nevertheless, keep on writing such great articles/columns for the readers like me & many more.


riaz May 21, 2014 - 4:56 pm

Imran khan is an idiot and he proving it to everyone.

khalidmurad1 May 22, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Imran Khan is a patriot and stood up rightly at a right time. These Indian loving sugar mill owners in India or business partners of Indian Banias must be taken care off. I wish he joins with PAT, APML, MQM and Choudhry’s league. Both these Indian loving gangs have conspired against the country with Mazaq or Misaq-e- Jamhuriat.

Hadiqa May 24, 2014 - 12:30 pm

Ejaz Haider at his best. Must read for IK and PTI wallas.


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