Full circle

Published April 10, 2023

ON the anniversary of the vote of no-confidence against former prime minister Imran Khan, it must be asked: was it really worth it? Clearly, the Pakistan Democratic Movement and its allies had no idea what they would be getting themselves into when they plotted to hasten the demise of the PTI government. It had seemed doomed to ignominy had it completed its term. Well before they voted to throw Mr Khan out of PM House, they had been asked, through these pages, whether they had any plan for what would be coming next. It was clear even then that their leaders had not thought things through. For example, they did not really know what to do about the floundering economy, which had started to be tossed and swept by the global commodity price supercycle. The lack of preparation showed as the new government bumbled and bungled its way deep into the fuel subsidy trap set for it by Mr Khan. The rest, as they say, is history.

When all else failed, Mr Khan found success in fibbing his way to martyrdom. The ‘cipher conspiracy’ saga paved his return to relevance when multiple attempts to win back the former army chief’s love and support, sweetened with the promise of a service extension with no expiry date, failed. This same army chief he would later go on to blame for all manner of evil under the sun (though, in some cases, perhaps not wrongly so). During this period and despite being warned not to, he shrugged off his duty to represent his supporters in parliament. He conceded the entire National Assembly to his political rivals, who proceeded to make short work of the country’s accountability laws and institutions to give themselves legal relief. He then proceeded to hand over even the two provinces he did control to his rivals in a display of naiveté that showed just how disconnected he has always been from realpolitik.

What we have 12 months later are two political factions still unwilling to come to terms with the fact that their nonsensical decisions and positions have not only imperilled the entire democratic order but also exacted a massive and painful toll on the people of Pakistan. Citizens are now so sick of living with the constant uncertainty of not knowing what fresh misery tomorrow will bring, that many of those who have the means are looking for ways to flee the country for good. Young parents feel Pakistan is no place to raise their children, while older citizens say they’ve given up hope of seeing any improvement in the country’s fortunes within their lifetimes. So, if anyone is to ask what exactly has changed in the country over the past year, all one can offer is that it seems to have been gradually bankrupted of its resilience and hope. Commiserations to the nation on this inauspicious year.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2023

Opinion

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