Imran Khan’s Relentless Incendiary Politics Of Polarization Against State Institutions – OpEd


A disturbing trend of polarization and the use of incendiary politics by Imran Khan has been the mainstay of the political affairs in Pakistan. Imran Khan’s constant attacks on his rivals can be seen as one of the contributing factors to Pakistan’s deep polarization today.

Imran Khan’s political strategy has relied heavily on stoking divisions among various segments of Pakistani society. He has often resorted to demonizing his political opponents, labeling them as corrupt and the sole cause of Pakistan’s problems. Khan’s approach has been marked by inflammatory language and personal attacks, which further exacerbates societal divisions. Khan’s polarizing rhetoric is only adding to Pakistan’s chaos and creating a climate of deep consternation among the public and government institutions. While political competition and criticism are natural in a democratic system, the manner in which these attacks are conducted plays a crucial role in shaping public opinion and the overall political climate. Khan’s incendiary politics have affected democratic institutions in Pakistan. His approach has eroded trust in the political process, with many perceiving the government’s actions as undermining the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

When leaders continuously engage in aggressive and personal attacks on their rivals, and in Pakistan’s case against the army, it tends to exacerbate divisions among the population. Instead of focusing on policy differences and constructive debates, the discourse becomes centered on personal attacks and character assassination. This approach fosters a culture of animosity and creates a hostile environment where genuine dialogue and collaboration become increasingly difficult. Parallels of the attack on Pakistan’s military installations can be made to a violent putsch which Imran Khan wants to impose. His actions have left the public in deep angst. 

Imran Khan is a decadent elite who has licensed a degraded behavior and a debased public has chosen him as the worst leader. His appeals to nationalism and assertions of a pure Pakistani identity has been used to create a sense of “us versus them”. Imran Khan’s political modus oprendi is primarily based on his support by his fan club, in which he embraces a style of politics that is deeply rooted in emotion. His fan club politics has an undercurrent of unwavering loyalty that blindly binds its members together. It manifests itself as a fierce devotion with utter disregard for state directives. His Fan club style of politics is filled with emotional fervor which overshadows pragmatic considerations.

Moreover, Khan’s bellicose rhetoric has only much credence as much as callow rhetoric by any incipient politician. His fulminations stoking the public resulted in mobs taking to the military installations and setting them ablaze.  When political leaders continuously target their rivals, it often leads to a lack of trust and credibility in the political process. Consequently, the polarization deepens as people align themselves firmly with their preferred leaders, further fueling the divide. Imran Khan has done so very effectively with his aggressive actions against the state institutions. 

It is quite palpable that Imran Khan is responsible for Pakistan’s deep polarization, his constant attacks on political rivals have played a role in perpetuating the divisive climate. Khan temerity to challenge and undercut the state institutions with constant saber rattling has had profound detrimental effects. His aggressive political maneuvers have brought the state to the precipice. Khan’s and his cohort’s approach towards political competition against institutions has contributed to increasing polarization and undermined the credibility of state institutions.

It is essential for political leaders to prioritize constructive engagement, respectful dialogue, and the exchange of ideas. By focusing on policy matters, leaders can present their vision for the country, engage in healthy debates, and work towards consensus-building. This approach can help bridge the gaps and reduce polarization by emphasizing the common goals and shared interests that can unite the nation. The public even often perceive these attacks on state institutions as attempts to divert attention from pressing issues or to gain political mileage rather than a genuine concern for the nation’s welfare, thus further exacerbating polarization.

It is important for all political leaders to recognize their responsibility in fostering a more inclusive and constructive political discourse that promotes unity rather than division. Khan’s rhetoric has been marred by polarization, divisive rhetoric, and the erosion of democratic values. His incendiary politics have deepened societal divisions. While political leaders are expected to engage in robust debates and defend their policies, it is crucial to foster a culture of tolerance, inclusivity, and respect for democratic institutions. Moving forward, Pakistan needs leaders who can bridge divides, address economic challenges, and uphold the principles of democracy for the betterment of the nation and its people. Ultimately, it can be asserted that Imran Khan is a paper tiger due to his actions, policies, and overall performance as a leader 

Asma Khan Durrani

Asma Khan Durrani is an expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defense and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47

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