Rocking the boat

Published April 2, 2022

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan seems willing to go to any lengths in his determination to convert his looming defeat in Sunday’s vote of no-confidence into a moment of political martyrdom.

As if the shock value of an international conspiracy to oust him was not enough, his close aides and Mr Khan himself have since doubled down with public statements that they fear an attempt on his life. This is a very grave claim if it is indeed based on incontrovertible facts, and the prime minister ought to share with the public exactly who the nefarious elements involved in this plot are. Otherwise, the more rational observers of the drama playing out in Islamabad would find it a little difficult to believe that Mr Khan is suddenly finding himself in graver and graver peril as the clock ticks down to his ouster from office.

One hopes that the prime minister is not simply trying to create panic among his supporters, many of whom have already issued passionate calls for rallies and demonstrations ahead of the Sunday vote. Making the most of his last days in office, the prime minister has played a shrewd hand by utilising both public and private media to hammer home his election narrative: surely there is little to be gained in having citizens take to the streets when the stage for the denouement has already been set in parliament.

Editorial: PM Imran has built himself up as a lone fighter for Pakistan’s cause

The prime minister also needs to take a critical look at his decision to provoke the citizenry against a foreign country. He has milked the ‘scandalous’ diplomatic cable enough for purely political purposes and it is time he leaves the resolution of this matter to the Foreign Office. It is understood that that was the recommendation of the National Security Committee as well after it reviewed the matter in detail.

Insinuating that there is something sinister in the way the diplomats of the foreign country in question are going about doing their jobs is a very dangerous line for the chief executive of a country to take. Diplomats from all countries routinely meet politicians, journalists and other notables. These interactions are meant to create social connections so that foreign representatives can learn as much as they can about the countries they are delegated to. If the prime minister has evidence of any misdoings during such interactions, this should be shared with the public.

It is, however, clear that despite his insistent messaging that an international conspiracy is behind what is transpiring in parliament, the national security establishment does not seem interested in taking any extraordinary action. That their stoic ‘neutrality’ continues to hold and the prime minister himself has not expressed any qualms about it is the biggest indicator that he knows his talk of the vote of no-confidence being a sinister plot against Pakistan is just hot air.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2022

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