Imran’s Marxism

Published August 13, 2015
The writer is an author.
The writer is an author.

IMRAN Khan has been outed. What was suspected for some time has been confirmed: Imran is a closet Marxist.

It is clear that Imran follows not the doctrinaire ideology of Karl Marx but the ambivalence of the comedian Groucho Marx, who wrote to his club: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” Imran Khan’s prevarication regarding his membership of our National Assembly echoes Groucho Marx’s ambiguous remonstrance.

Our country went to the polls in May 2013, 27 months ago. Within another 33 months (depending upon the confidence of the incumbent PML-N), there must be another general election. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s MNAs are halfway between a past election they do not accept and a future election they have yet to contest. Their leader meanwhile is trapped between the devil of his ambitions and the deep blue sea of political reality.


Like Bhutto, Imran Khan has never faced the spectre of failure.


It does not require effort to recall the tortuous route that led the PTI from Parliament House to the streets, from long marches to even longer sit-ins, from offensive oratory to conciliatory collaboration, from the demand for the resignation of our prime minister to the humbling acceptance of his mandate, from the clamour for a judicial commission to the dismissal of PTI’s own election tribunal head, from blocking the gates of Parliament House to using them to re-enter the same chamber.

A lesser party would have retracted its claws, spent time sharpening its teeth. But then, the PTI is not such a party. Like the PPP in its greener days, it is a party led by an extraordinary man who has charisma, credibility, persistence, and tenacity. Like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Imran Khan is determined to become prime minister — sooner not later, at any price to himself, and at any cost to the nation.

Again, like Mr Bhutto, Imran Khan has never faced the spectre of failure. Mr Bhutto’s career took a young, ambitious Sindhi Icarus from the ministership of commerce in Ayub Khan’s cabinet to the foreign ministership, through the contradiction of a presidency-cum-CMLA-ship to the coveted prime ministership. Imran Khan has soared from the Cricket World Cup to Shaukat Khanum Hospital to Namal College, and now to the chairmanship of the PTI. It is for men like these that John Keats wrote: “I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.” Z.A. Bhutto in his day, and today Imran Khan, can be regarded as giants, tall Gullivers astride a land of Lilliputians.

The PTI has the second largest vote bank in the country. It has the potential to sweep the next general elections, if it can wait that long. Look around it. The PPP is orphaned, its inheritance squandered by self-appointed trustees. The MQM is beleaguered, its absent leader threatening fire, fury, and fattening fasts. The JUI-F and other rightist parties wait like perennial bridesmaids for the bouquet of governance to be tossed towards them. The PML-Q is as quiet and as still as waters that run shallow. That leaves the PML-N.

It would have been all too easy for Nawaz Sharif to have crowed over the decision of the judicial commission that exonerated his PML-N of organised and premeditated rigging. The PTI — its original target having been snatched away — has reacted by shifting its guns towards the Election Commission of Pakistan. The PTI now demands that the ECP reform its election procedures.

Even if an all-party commission could be cobbled together to recommend refor­ms to the ECP (who more than the political parties has an inter­est in effect­ing such imp­rove­ments?), and assu­ming that the ECP does suc­ceed in imple­menting such im­provements in time, that benefit would accrue only in 2018, 33 months from now.

Meanwhile, the PTI should encourage its shy council members to speak, whenever Imran Khan pauses. What does its member on agriculture Shahid Zia have to say about the current floods and their devastating impact on our agriculture? Does the member on labour intend on activating the somnolent labour unions? Does the member on textiles Zafar Iqbal Sarwar have a proactive textile policy? Can the member on foreign policy and internal security Dr Shireen Mazari give adequate time to either? Does the member on water and power Shahid Sattar have a solution in mind for our hydel and thermal energy shortfalls? Or are they all simply waxen ciphers who have lent their names but not their tongues to the PTI?

If Imran Khan is to follow a Marx, let it be Karl Marx. His advice to future impatient leaders read: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circums­tances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

The writer is an author.

www.fsaijazuddin.pk

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2015

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