Has Imran Khan Lost The Plot?

The desperation to win has forced Imran Khan to take steps that were once anathema to him, says Saurabh Kumar Shahi

On the face of it, OryaMaqboolJaan looks like a harmless dial-a-quote TV personality. He is anything but. Known for his misogynistic and bigot view, Orya has courted controversy left, right and centre. In the past, he has variously supported, punishing the female athletes, raping the civilian women from the enemy nation (read India) and execution of those who do not follow his version of Islam. Therefore, when the news broke out that his name was among those that Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf had sent for the possible appointment as at Interim Executive during the upcoming General Elections, the internet in Pakistan erupted in indignation.
On the face of a concerted and forceful internet backlash, Imran Khan and his Party folded quickly. Especially because his Party is said to be based on internet phenomenon with little support on the ground. Some spokesperson were quickly paraded to deny the news. However, their timing was off. While one spokesman was denying his name was ever sent for suggestion, another leader—who had clearly not been told about the turnaround in time—was maintaining that his name was indeed sent and that it was Imran Khan in person who approved of his name at the very first place, denying Khan of any plausible deniability.
NazishBrohi celebrated Pakistani activist, “Who is symbolic of the worst of Pakistan. Who emanates poison on prime time TV preaching misogyny, believes women are naturally subservient to men and are fulfilled when beaten by husbands, are ‘bitches’ whose natural role is to reproduce and feed, get raped because they don’t do hijaab and cover their hair (in a discussion about the 8-year-old Zainab’s rape case), shouldn’t play sports because it calls attention to their jiggling body parts, and enemy civilian women (Indian) if captured, can be raped and made sex slaves (londiyaan). In addition to all his vitriol against Malala which he propagates was a staged encounter and defence of MumtazQadri for his killing of Salman Taseer. And this is just a fraction of his daily vicious rants. This is the man they propose to give the biggest province’s leadership to. This escalates PTI from its general stupidity to vileness.”
However, this is not the only incident that indicates towards PTI’s affection for criminal and bigoted elements. While there are criminal and bigoted elements in other parties as well, especially Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Nawaz Sharif that has its own share of Captain Safdar and Ludhianvi, who are known for their anti-Shia and anti-Ahmadi stances, it appears that PTI’s inclination towards such elements is hardly tactical in nature. It gravitates fa too often towards such elements. While its cadres maintain that it is not the Party that seek these individuals, but the individuals that seek the Party, it is hardly a plausible excuse. One can always ask that why is it so that such criminal and bigoted element especially seek PTI’s patronage?
PTI recently also welcomed infamous Televangelist AamirLiaquat Hussain in its fold. Hussain is a clown, but a dangerous one at that. His phone-in programs in the past have courted controversies to the extent that he was banned by the Courts and the TV monitoring authority PEMRA from having a program on any channel. Some years ago, in one of his telecast, he encouraged spectators to kill members of minority Ahmadi sect, which is considered heretic under Pakistan’s constitution. Following the telecast, two members from the community were gunned down.
Hussain is also foul-mouthed and has embarrassed himself several times in hot-mic situations. When he finally joined PTI a few months ago, Party cadres were somersaulting hard to justify his inclusion.
“This is for PTI supporters. Do you still support PTI after it nominated OryaMaqbool Jan as a candidate for caretaker CM position? The name came from the Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly. I sincerely hope you don’t vote for such a party which has amongst its members, religious fanatics who destroy mosques and places of worships, people like AamirLiaquat Hussain and which then nominated hate-filled misogynist fanatics like OryaMaqbool Jan on sensitive positions. If you still support PTI in the name of the age-old “other parties are corrupt” story then I sincerely question your priorities and goals. PTI is like the RSS of Pakistan,” asks Yasser Latif Hamdani, the noted Pakistani lawyer and activist.
And this is not all. Only a few weeks ago, Imran Khan welcomed notorious henchman and politician Farooq Bandial in his Party. Bandial is a convicted rapist, who was accused of robbery and raping a former famous film star in the late 1970s. A military court had later sentenced Bandiyal to death, but he managed to exploit the loopholes in the law to survive.
Following his inclusion, the internet reacted strongly, including many of PTI’s spirited female supporter, leading to Bandial’s expulsion just a day after his inclusion. However, it laid bare the fact that Imran and his Party is not averse to bringing such people in the old at the first place.
As elections in Pakistan approaches, Imran Khan’s desperation is increasing. With Nawaz Shari’s wings being pruned, he has sniffed victory. However, he realises that he will need what in local Pakistani parlance is called “Electable” to reach the magic number. Electable are those individuals who have pockets of influences in their own areas irrespective of the parties they represent. And Khan does not want to leave anything to fate.
However, this dented Party’s claim of being a clean alternative to the musclemen-based politics that others have resorted to. That veil has thankfully been now torn to smithereens.