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Imran Khan and the Candy Crush saga

Updated September 23, 2016


Illustration by author.
Illustration by author.

I know it is quite annoying but Imran Khan is addicted to Candy Crush and he can’t stop.

He probably has lost all hope in reality and is fast becoming a victim of his own ‘virtual politics’.

Politics in our country has somehow been divided into two distinct spheres over the past decade or so.

In one sphere, clearly defined vested interests wrestle with each other to win the trophy of state power. A contestant’s personal power (howsoever you may define it) and ability to the make right maneuvers at the right time are key ingredients to a good performance. The game is played in the electoral arena and there are rules to the sport. However, at times, rules are twisted and, that too, is an expression of your raw personal power.

The other sphere is the politics projected on screens — wall mounted, hand held, or on desktops. The screen politics was supposed to be a reflection of what happens in the electoral arena. But it appears that this sphere has become a separate sphere on its own.

This development has complicated the relationship between the reality and the image of politics beyond comprehension.

A politician may be doing well on the ground but may not be able to exercise control over their on-screen image. In contrast, a leader can concentrate on their on-screen existence and keep the audience enthralled, even if it is diametrically opposite to their political realities on the ground.

Even more intriguing is the fact that you can never be sure about which of the two spheres will matter the most once the whistle is blown and the game starts.

On-screen politics is addictive not only for the audience but for the actors as well. But for the latter, it can be dangerous if they themselves start believing in the image they create for popular consumption.

Imran Khan has once again set up a date with the 24/7 TV cameras. His social media brigade is all set to form the flanks as ‘Panipat’ will be fought in Raiwind this time on September 30th.

Imran’s crusade is against the ruling elite’s corruption. More precisely, the target is Nawaz Sharif. Imran’s case against the prime minister is that he stacked ill-gotten billions in foreign accounts in his children’s name, failed to declare them to the election authorities, and must now be prosecuted for it.

On September 19, ten days before Imran announced the date of his protest, by-elections were held in the National Assembly constituency of NA-162 (Sahiwal 3), better known as the Chichawatni seat. This seat was one of only six national constituencies in Punjab won by the PTI out of the 148 in the 2013 elections.

But runners up of those elections approached the Election Tribunal, accusing PTI winner Rai Hasan Nawaz of hiding his assets, which is against the law.

They alleged that the PTI stalwart did not declare ownership of a petrol pump, a CNG station, series of stores on the GT road, as well as that he was managing director of a textile mill that defaulted on loan worth RS887 million. They also alleged that he defaulted on Rs400,000 in telephone bills.

Isn’t this the same kind of corruption that Imran Khan is accusing Nawaz Sharif of?

Politicians from that constituency had to go through a lot of court proceedings over the last three years. The Tribunal decided in favour of the petitioners and unseated Hasan Nawaz in May last year. Hasan Nawaz appealed in the Supreme Court, which took another year to uphold the Tribunal’s decision. In June, the Election Commission announced by-elections for the vacant seat.

As Hasan Nawaz was disqualified, he fielded his nephew Rai Murtaza Iqbal. But with prominent posters of Hasan Nawaz, Murtaza’s election campaign gave more importance to his uncle. And yes, pictures of their great leader Imran Khan were there as well. PTI gave party ticket to the proxy candidate of a proven lawbreaker.

From where does then Imran Khan gather the audacity to accuse others of wrongdoing? Isn’t the pot calling the kettle black?

The Rai family is one of the most powerful families of Sahiwal district. They have been in power, one way or the other, in their constituency since 1985. PTI would have bagged fewer votes than even the PPP if not for this family. But PTI defines morality differently for ‘us’ and ‘them.’

However, the Rais are not the only powerful ones in Chichawatni. There are the Araeens, Gujjars, and the Jats as well. Each group has its own ambitions and leaders with considerable electoral experience. Their political interests hardly converge but the PML-N displayed its maneuvering skills by having all of them vote for its Jat nominee in the by-elections. The Rais lost as they were limited to their own personal area of influence.

Following the PTI's demands, the elections were held under strictest possible supervision by the army. There were no reports of rigging.

PML-N defeated the PTI in one of its strongholds, as electors preferred Nawaz Sharif’s party over its candidate.

This is the ground reality that the PTI is not willing to accept.

The party has little option but to turn to its favourite indulgence — crushing candies on screen.

It gives you a sense of achievement.

Never mind that it is a false sense of achievement.

Live the moment.

The score you hit in this game elevates the spirits and the adrenaline rush helps you ignore the fact that the numbers on the screen are not the number of votes you have received in real life.

So if you are looking for a momentary escape from our stark political realities, please accept Imran Khan’s request and join him in Raiwind for a mass game of Candy Crush.

It will be fun for sure.

And you never know, he might announce the launch of a PTI version of Pokemon Go in order to catch and destroy all the corrupt politicians of the country!