Monday, July 27, 2015

Daily Times Editorial July 27, 2015

PTI's response The long awaited response of Imran Khan and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), to the report of the judicial commission that examined his allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections proved what many observers and analysts had anticipated. The report's findings have proved deeply embarrassing to the PTI generally and Imran Khan in particular. Most trenchant analysts who monitored and later looked at the 2013 elections' procedures and results had already come more or less to the same conclusion as the judicial commission finally pronounced. The judicial commission was not presented, despite the song and dance by the PTI and Imran Khan, with convincing proof or evidence of the alleged systematic, planned rigging (stolen mandate therefore) on which the PTI had constructed its whole case and staged the sit-in stretching over months in Islamabad. Now the party was confronted with the ticklish task of framing a credible response that would not do any further damage to the PTI's credibility, rather do damage control. Imran Khan, after discussions with his party leadership on the report and their response, braved the press in Islamabad and tried to put the bravest face possible on what can only be considered an unmitigated disaster for the PTI. First and foremost, he latched onto the fact that the judicial commission had not used its powers of setting up investigation teams to probe the rigging charges. Had the judges of the commission done so, Imran asserted, the truth of the rigging would have come out. Now the problem with this assertion is that the judicial commission had first to be convinced through evidence/proof that at least prima facie there were reasons to and grounds for such investigation. The PTI, however, on whom lay the onus to establish at least a preliminary case, failed outrightly to do so. In such an eventuality, to expect the judicial commission to send off investigation teams on a wild goose chase would have been an exercise in futility and a complete waste of time. Imran Khan and his party had their day before the judicial commission. The fact that they were unable to meet the demands of the burden of proof of their allegations is no one's fault but their own. Seeking scapegoats and making excuses now to somehow salvage a lost cause will bring neither credit nor credibility back to the party. In a sense, Imran Khan has been hoist by his own petard. He has looked every bit as immature, pig-headed, arrogant and foolish throughout this adventure as many who know him well claim is his real character. Impatient to rise to the pinnacle of power, he arguably blew the best opportunity his party had since it was set up to come closer to the fount from which all success flows. The 'tsunami' rhetoric went to his head and instead of appreciating his party's success in garnering 35 seats in parliament, he started the whole drama of crying rigging all over the place. The fact that one retired ISI chief's name has been quoted as the mastermind of the whole sit-in plan and another just retired ISI chief's as supportive of the sit-in despite the prime minister's instructions to combat the campaign only goes to show that Imran Khan has not lost his penchant for being used by the establishment. Clearly, despite his public apology for initially supporting dictator Musharraf, his playing into the hands of the establishment, and ending up being used for the latter's aims while losing out on his own, once again betrays his anti-democratic character and willingness to use whatever shortcut presented itself to the portals of power to throw all calculation and caution to the winds in his messianic belief in his own 'destiny'. Had he had a wiser and more patient political head on his shoulders, he would have focused (as he is claiming he will do now after the debacle) on model governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reorganisation and strengthening of his party to position himself as arguably the most credible party in the next elections in 2018. Instead, Imran Khan, in the wake of the judicial commission's findings, runs the real risk of the PTI becoming another 'also ran', rather than the great white hope youth and the middle class (increasingly disillusioned) saw Imran as. What a pity.

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