Friday, Sep 22, 2023

Down But Not Out: Five Reasons Why Imran Khan Continues To Enjoy Solid Support Base In Pakistan

Down But Not Out: Five Reasons Why Imran Khan Continues To Enjoy Solid Support Base In Pakistan

Religious sections as well as the youth and apolitical middle class see Khan as the Kaptaan who will clean up politics and usher in a New Pakistan.

Pakistan's PM Imran Khan
Pakistan's PM Imran Khan Twitter

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan has tried all tricks in the bag to remain in power. According to reports from Pakistan, he was planning to dismiss the army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa but the PTI has since denied such allegations. With the Supreme Court ready to detain lawmakers for contempt, good sense finally prevailed. 

The PTI hoped to stretch the National Assembly session to Monday when they had hopes with a review petition that was pending. The petition questioned the apex court’s order on the trust vote. Now that the die is cast and the SC is in no mood to oblige, Khan and his PTI will hit the streets and galvanise people against what he terms an “imported” government installed by the US and its Western allies.

Here are five points on Khan and his support base.

1. To his followers, Imran Khan has done nothing wrong

Imran Khan has been sent out kicking and screaming, but to his followers the former prime minister has done nothing wrong in attempting to defy the Supreme Court that had stood up for the Constitution.

Faisal Javed Khan, a PTI minister, wrote, “Just saw off Prime Minister Imran Khan from Prime Minister House. He walked out gracefully and didn't bow down. He has lifted the entire nation. Feeling proud to be a Pakistani and blessed to have a leader like him. Pakistan Khan – Imran Khan.” 

This sentiment is shared by not just party workers but large number oNew Pakistan’’ that he failed to create during his time in power.

2. Youth has contempt for politicians, Khan is seen as challenger to dynastic politics

Pakistan’s youth like young people across the world have contempt for politicians and regard Khan as a challenger to the traditional political dynasties represented by Pakistan People’s Party leaders like Bilawal Zardari Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League’s Maryam and Hamza Sharif. 

Khan is Mr Clean who can make the sorely needed difference to the country’s corrupt system. Lately, there have been allegations of corruption against extended family members of his wife Bushra Bibi. It appears the former Punjab chief minister was selected by his wife Bushra Biwi. Her ex-husband is said to have made money from Imran Khan’s protegee in Punjab. Nothing is yet proven.

3. Religious, conservative sections support Khan    

The deeply religious, conservative, and poorer sections of Pakistani society support Khan who frequently invokes religious sentiments. Khan has often played footsie with the extremists, including the Pakistan Taliban. He has hailed Osama Bin Laden as a martyr and has spoken up for the extremist fringe many times. 

Khan’s anti-America stance plays well with the conservative religious section. So, despite the dubious claims of a foreign conspiracy, which right-thinking Pakistanis dismiss, there are an equally large number of admirers who continue to support his attempted assault on the country’s constitution. Khan will wear his “Taliban Khan’’ tag as a badge of honour.

4. Large section of middle class sees Khan as only man standing    

A large section of Pakistan’s middles class, including young professionals, that are apolitical and paint Opposition politicians as corrupt, see Khan as the only man standing. It is these people who have transferred their admiration of Khan the cricketer to Khan the righteous political leader.

5. Imran Khan enjoys support of Pakistan's celebrities

Array of Pakistan’s celebrities, including singers, actors, and models, have tweeted their support for Khan all though the current crisis. Top notch actors like Mahira Khan, Adnan Siddique, and Humayun Saeed together with many other leadings personalities from entertainment world have backed Imran Khan.

Zara Noor Abbas, a successful drama artist, was quick to declare on her Instagram tories, “I don’t accept any party other than PTI, nor any prime minister other than Imran Khan for this country.” 

Singer Haroon Shahid tweeted rather hopefully, “Respect the decision. Let’s move on to the next battle. If we lose on Saturday, we will rise again on Sunday. Either you give up or you plan your next move. Pakistan Zindabad, Imran Khan Zindabad.” 

Singer Quratulain Baloch called for a protest against the verdict. She wrote on the microblogging site, “Can we all come out and reject this decision? What kind of democracy is this where the people’s votes have no value over the MNAs who can easily sell out, both their souls and their country mean? I stand with Imran Khan and for your own sake, Stand up for yourself.”

The respected columnist Pervez Hoodbhoy writes in Pakistan highly respected English daily Dawn, “Today, one particular belief sits securely in a nuclear-protected bunker and may survive even the no-confidence vote. Common wisdom is that all Opposition leaders are money-hungry cheats and Khan, even with his shortcomings, is clean as a whistle. Correct? After all, it is commonly held that all opposition politicians are venal, even if there is disagreement on which is the more corrupt one.” 


Must Read