Pakistan, politics and PTI

If popular mood and pulse are any guide, Imran Khan’s narrative (irrespective of its merits or otherwise) has mobilized Pakistan up to and including the upper middle class, for the first time after the populist politics of ZA Bhutto. However, unlike Bhutto’s, Imran’s five attributes neo-Islamism, nationalist outlook, charisma, spine to stand up and be counted, and ‘relative’ integrity endear him to many Pakistanis, tired of the tried cabal of politicians.

Author Inam ul Haq  and posted by: Ch Muhammad Natiq
PTI’s abysmal record at governance and combative obsession with rhetorical battles make IK a difficult leader. He needs to be correctly packaged, ‘used’ and not wasted in the larger national interest. Mr Khan also needs to shun campaign style container politics for more pragmatic postures, accommodating and not confronting all other stakeholders like judiciary, military.

No Army chief would allow any politician and/or civilian official in whatever capacity to interfere in the routine working of the Army, like postings and transfers. This goes against the basic and most cherished principle of ‘unity of command’ in the armed forces. No service chief would want to have his star officers looking towards political masters for promotions, postings, appointments, perks and privileges. That is a non-negotiable given. Civilian supremacy of the armed forces stops here even in the US Armed Forces.

His (IK) angry mother in-law style outbursts only divide an already divided nation and waste precious time that could otherwise be spent on improving governance. The brain-power consumed by all and sundry in PTI to fight rhetorical duels could be spent finding out-of-the-box solutions for economy, trade and commerce, for example. Governance and only governance remains the enduring credential.

The recent vicious, most unfortunate and mostly ill-informed criticism of the Army in particular aside, Miltablishment had worked overtime to nurture, guide, advise and ‘mentor’ PTI leadership like never before. Truth be told. Although the sequencing, mannerism and timing of some recent steps by the Miltablishment could be debated, their nationalist credentials could never be doubted.

PTI has proved having no political acumen, no competence and no experience to handle complex issues at ‘national’ level. Not even a capable finance minister. So, raw emotionalism aside, there is some serious soul-searching required by PTI rank and file, in their own interest.

Long marches would further tank down a bad economy, distract policymakers from timely/good decisions, and allow our nemesis to take advantage of our polarization and instability. At international level, one feels PTI has overplayed the issue of American interference in our politics.

Khan needs to understand the limits of our foreign policy. ‘Nationalist pragmatism’ with ‘palatable’ foreign policy is name of the game for leaders like him, till economic emancipation.

Although people still see the ‘inexperienced and incompetent’ Khan in ‘relatively’ better light against tested and tried ‘capable’; willing to give him another chance. His asking for eternal protestation in seething summers would squander away his political capital, which is never unlimited.

 The writer is a retired major general and has an interest in International Relations and Political Sociology. He can be reached at

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