WHEN is a resignation not quite a resignation? It seems when it is demanded by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
Determined to secure seemingly even a ‘non-resignation resignation’ to fulfil its original demand that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down, the PTI has mooted a most peculiar set of ideas: the prime minister should, according to the PTI, resign for a short duration while the judicial commission completes its work, and thereafter resume office if the commission’s findings do not warrant fresh elections. In the annals of global political history, it would be difficult to find an example that would match the PTI’s extremely bizarre proposal. For what, exactly, would Prime Minister Sharif’s temporary resignation achieve?
Consider that the very elections that the PTI is disputing were held under a caretaker government. Clearly then, even within the PTI’s scheme of things, if the PML-N was allegedly able to rig an election when not in office, could it not affect the outcome of a judicial inquiry when the party has governments at both the centre and in the principally electorally disputed province of Punjab?
Or is the PTI arguing that it is Nawaz Sharif and he alone who is able and willing to distort elections and inquiries, and that with Mr Sharif temporarily on the side lines, the PML-N governments in the centre and in Punjab would miraculously become independent bodies that will discover the world the way the PTI sees it?
Or does the PTI secretly hope that nominating a stop-gap prime minister would bring in a national government of sorts through the back door, giving the party a say in who the temporary leader should be? The latest PTI suggestion is as ludicrous and off-putting as several that have come before it.
At this point, it is worth asking who is advising Imran Khan. Shah Mehmood Qureshi has taken a central role in the present crisis and has been both extremely visible and active. The former PPP foreign minister has forged a reputation of sorts of having political ambitions that perhaps do not quite match his political stature. Is Mr Khan listening to the wrong man? Or is that wrong man Mr Khan himself?
That Mr Khan could in fact be on a solo flight, with his PTI colleagues struggling to keep up, is a possibility that was further reinforced on Friday as Mr Khan suggested that his quest for a so-called new and improved Pakistan was in part tied to his desire to get married again.
Allow that proposition to sink in for a moment. Thousands of people assembled outside parliament, a country held hostage to a political crisis, and Mr Khan has his mind on personal affairs and marriage, even if he attempted to qualify his remarks later. Is Imran Khan a serious politician a pop star or, sadly, just a pop-star politician?
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2014