Why is Imran attacking the very system he won through?

Published September 24, 2014
Imran Khan talks on his cellphone prior to addressing supporters during an anti-government protest in Islamabad on August 21. — AFP Photo
Imran Khan talks on his cellphone prior to addressing supporters during an anti-government protest in Islamabad on August 21. — AFP Photo

The Inqilab and Azadi bandwagon seems to have failed to materialise its prime ambition. The 10 lac did not turn up, the “umpire” negotiated but refused to raise the finger, and courtesy the incumbent opposition, the premier unexpectedly came out strong.

Nonetheless, even though the revolutionaries flopped in actualising their political demands, the eloquent Qadri and the charismatic Khan were successful in mainstreaming their respective political rhetoric – both opposition camps have been getting consistent airtime for their daily four hours-long political parade on a dozen news channels on a catchy one-liner or one-worder: change.

As a student of politics, I have huge reservations on the change of system argument.

Here's why:

System change? But you believe in the system, don’t you?

The 'political system' as defined by Wordnik is:

“A complete set of institutions, political organizations, interest groups (such as political parties, trade unions, lobby groups), the relationships between those institutions and the political norms and rules that govern their functions (constitution, election law)."

Today, that system is 'democracy', which is globally accepted as a legitimate political system among all other known options.

Read on: Protesting for Pakistan: Why change can be dangerous

It’s the same political system which Qadri once was and Khan still is a part of, and to take it further, the latter often makes verbal commitments to bringing the true face of it i.e. as practiced in Western democracies.

And as far as Sheikhul Islam is concerned, his to-do list is exactly the same wish list which every political party promises in their manifestos. Call it what you may, but deeming it an alternative political system is nothing less than black comedy.

The dharnas are all but a campaign for a change of the premier, and to disguise it under the change of system argument is baseless under the ambit of rationality and logic.

The system's biggest beneficiaries bringing it down

The opposition considers their politics to be the cleansing agent of the very system they are part of, and the very system which legitimised and empowered their cries for change.

Then why dump this system?

Sure, the Khan-Qadri duo may be honest in their attempts to highlight political and economic shortcomings of the Pakistani state.

But my objection is that in order to make it trendy and marketable for the masses — all across from the dwellers of katchi abadis to the socialites of Defence — they chose to (ab)use the term 'change of system'.

Congrats on the successful strategy, Kaptaan/Molvi Sahab, even though it's purely a gimmickry of words.

Take a look: A Pakistani revolution of the Optimus Populares

But can I dare to ask whether it isn't true that the same wretched obnoxiousness present in our political classes finds itself at home at your platforms as well?

From the violent thugs who vandalised PTV to the pseudo-Sufi pir; from the infamous land-grabbers of urban Pakistan and the sugar cane mafia responsible for the sugar crisis of 2009 to the administrator of the posh private school where average Pakistanis can only dream of sending their children...

All are in your ranks now as agents of 'change'.

So what’s next?

The problem exists. Indeed it does. It’s visible, precarious and alarming.

But among all the options available for reform, the usage of smart political rhetoric seems hopeless because it’s the society which needs urgent and immediate reform, not the political system.

The system is in its place, but the society producing the elements to run this system fall short to produce the desired individuals.

Explore: What is 'naya' in Naya Pakistan?

The politicos in the opposition ranks are the same as those in government right now. If tomorrow, they are given the same power as Nawaz holds, this lot would be encountering the same challenges which the treasury faces today.

Hence it isn't the change of the system (which doesn't seem to be the intention anyway) that is needed, but instead a reform of society through formal and informal sociological agents.

It would serve Mr Khan well to know that the evolution of democracies he is so fond of citing, emerged through gradual reforms of the society, which were then reflected in the system.

The buck stops here.

But unfortunately, reasoning and logic has never excited our crowds as well as DJ Butt has.


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