What is 'naya' in Naya Pakistan?

Published August 30, 2014
The founder of Naya Pakistan calls it human nature to be political, but I'm not allowed by his troops to express myself? —File photo
The founder of Naya Pakistan calls it human nature to be political, but I'm not allowed by his troops to express myself? —File photo

This is a blog and writing one is perhaps inviting trouble these days.

Why? Because blogging means I am addressing the social media audience of Pakistan and it is very lonely out here if you're not a PTI supporter.

It gets worse if you also do not support PPP, MQM, PML-N or JI. So I am pretty much on my own, or at least without protection from a social media team which will support and defend my stance without even paying heed to the merits of my stance.

But just because I don't support a political party in Pakistan does not mean I am as irrelevant to the debate as “an animal”, in the wise words of the great Khan.

It just means that I haven't found a party which truly represents my political views; more a shortcoming of the parties than my own.

Also read: Cannot think of marriage before Naya Pakistan: Imran

For example, I feel strongly about having non-Muslim parliamentarians contest for the office of the Prime Minister along with their Muslim colleagues; for the second amendment to be repealed; for Hindus and Sikhs to have their personal marriage laws; for LGBT rights to be recognised.

But I cannot find a party which represents any or all of that. And for my rights and views, I contested elections as an independent candidate so I could at least vote for what I believed in, even if that meant voting for myself.

But most importantly, even when I didn’t find any representation amongst the defenders of ‘Purana Pakistan’ and the harbingers of ‘Naya Pakistan’, I did not choose to leave Pakistan, did not abandon the system or called for its derailment.

Instead, I chose to strengthen it by joining it, by becoming part of the process that would hopefully make this country more literate, more syncretic with new cultures and more accepting of change.

And so when I speak of the future I cannot help but think of ‘Naya’ Pakistan, not because I look forward to it but because it appears that regardless of what I may like, I am being ushered into it.

But what I find quite troubling is that though the founder of ‘Naya’ Pakistan calls it human nature to be political, I am not allowed to express my political views by his troops.

Read on: Imran flays PM Nawaz for 'defaming' military

A significant number of my followers on Facebook/Twitter are PTI supporters who it appears follow my posts only to keep a check on my comments in relation to their party, so they can respond to the same. I have seen acquaintances, friends and even close friends who support PTI express their discontent with my political views.

But it isn't disagreement which I have a problem with. When someone tells me I'm wrong, at least it comes with the presumption that they respect my opinions, if not my reasoning.

What I instead find obnoxious is that every time I have dared to question Imran Khan’s policy (not his integrity, mind you) the tabdeeli razakars have fired back asking how much I was paid for it.

I am still fairly new to politics and journalism. Accomplished and credible journalists of much better standing have faced similar questions on having dared to question any kind of ‘tabdeeli’.

And it is this erroneous notion that is scary — the idea that anyone who is not from the Khan fan club is corrupt.

The biggest loss here is that this fanaticism has isolated people on both sides of the divide. People do not want to comment, post or engage because they know they will not be participating in a dialogue but a tirade of allegations.

Imran Khan has preached this time and again in all his speeches. When he thought it wasn’t enough for him to do so, he invited a child on stage to do the same. That child, for all purposes may not even understand what's going on around him, but he is showcased criticising the prime minister of this country.

Khan's slogan is not “Go corruption Go”. It is “Go Nawaz Go” — an approach that has made it acceptable, if not popular, to attack people’s integrity as opposed to their policies.

I had the opportunity to interview Awab Alvi in his capacity as the Social Media head for PTI, for my show on Dawn News. The interview wasn't aired, but let me tell you that when I asked Awab why Imran had to stoop as low as commenting on Parliamentarians wetting their shalwars, he admitted that Imran was wrong to make that comment.

As a leader, he should know better than resorting to such language, and I'd like it very much for PTI's senior leadership to realise that, just as Awab did.

Explore: Of wet shalwars and televised 'revolutions'

The incident leads to the age-long question as to why can’t any politician in Pakistan — especially those who speak of change — educate his/her voters and supporters so the traditionally disgraceful political rhetoric can be uplifted to a degree where it is civil and cultured?

It's sad and ironic that Imran's supporters not only enjoy such attacks on the personal integrity of other politicians but also defend it, while all along criticising similar remarks from talking heads of opposing political parties — Talal Chaudhry, for instance.

Let me admit here that I'm not blind to the antics of other political parties. A PPP member claimed corruption was his right, an MQM parliamentarian once claimed mujras took place in every house in Punjab and the PML-N’s demeanour has already been highlighted above.

But, as I said that should have been ‘Purana Pakistan’ — the Pakistan I am disillusioned with. The question is, what is it that the ‘Naya Pakistan’ is offering me that is genuinely different from the old? How is it better, more refined or more accepting than the old? And not in the least, is it ready to self-reflect?

A genuine ‘Naya’ Pakistan would see its leader apologise to the nation for voting Maulana Fazlur Rehman for prime minister as an MNA in 2002 before he ridicules him on any diesel permits.

It would see its leader share his vision on women’s rights after having opposed the women rights bill in 2006. I would like to see its leader accept his mistake for supporting a dictator and partaking in the tainted elections of 2002.

Know more: Civil-military ties, not back to square one

Finally, I would have believed Khan’s Pakistan to be ‘Naya’ if instead of debating over who invited General Raheel Sharif to the party, he would have simply asked him to stay out of civilian matters.

Someone who has blamed the army and a certain dictator’s policies for the rise in militancy in Pakistan and has said time and again that a civilian government is best suited to deal with the crisis at hand shouldn't have entertained any interference from the army.

At the end of the day, it appears silly that the genuine democracy of ‘Naya Pakistan’ is being achieved because the old one may be threatened by a coup.

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