Pakistan Politics Not A World Cup Cricket Pitch: Former PM Imran Khan Runs Out Of Googlies – OpEd


Pakistan former PTI PM Imran Khan, despite his populist image with younger generation and repeated ‘bails-coverage’ perceptionaly provided by an anti-Establishment Supreme Court is seemingly playing his ‘last over’ having run out of googlies. So it is, because Imran Khan failed to recognise that Pakistan politics is not a World Cup cricket pitch where his cricketer’s aggression and swinging googlies/bouncers will ensure a win.

Carrying the cricket analogy further, Pakistan’s “Selectors” realised that the Captain that they had selected to lead Pakistan needed to be replaced as Imran Khan was now arrogantly turning-on his selectors in a domineering mode fuelled by a perception that the ‘Selectors’ had no alternative but him

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Ahmed Khan Nazi’s PTI party is visibly now in a political meltdown with an exodus of senior PTI close aides of Imran Khan abandoning his politically sinking ship following the May9 2023 violence wrecked by Imran Khan’s supporters on Pakistan Army GHQ, ISI and War Memorials of Pakistan’s martyred soldiers.

So how does former PM Imran Khan size up today, politically in a rapidly changing political environment where his delusionary use of ‘Street Power’ to tame the Establishment has misfired and he now faces a recoil ?

The Pakistan Army had given Imran Khan a long rope tolerating his political delinquencies over the last year since his constitutional ouster, patiently waiting for him to outgrow his delusionary populism. But then Imran Khan and his anarchic PTI mobs crossed the ‘Red Lines’, oblivious to the reality that challenging the Pakistan Army is a suicidal political strategy..

Presumably, Imran Khan was swayed by his mentor Turkish President Erdogan’s political strategy of riding into power by taming the Turkish Armed Forces by confronting them with ‘Street Power’ of his Party cadres.

The after math was predictable and today despite all his put-on bravado Imran Khan stands politically isolated in Pakistan’s political dynamics and also in terms of his international acceptability.

Pakistan’s political dynamics no longer offer Imran Khan to sell his narratives of being Pakistan’s political saviour and utopian dreams of a ‘New Pakistan’ which won him mass support in younger generation.

Pakistan’s major political parties like PML-N and PPP are deadly against him. So are the Right Wing Ulema-led religious parties. He has no natural political allies in Pakistan to give him a multi-party political traction to challenge his bête’-noire’, the Pakistan Army Chiefs. Not on any political ideology or political principles but out of personal pique in that two Pakistan Army Chiefs, in his self-perception as his patrons, have let him down. 

Within his own PTI Party, it has been pointed out earlier that his closest top aides and even many in the second and third rung leadership of PTI have left out saying that they were not in agreement with the May9 2023 attacks on Pakistan Army facilities and War Memorials. The Pakistan Army has cracked down mercilessly on PTI cadres involved I May 9 mob violence across Pakistan.

 Even the granddaughter of a former Pakistan Army Chief, late General Janjua’ a celebrity fashion designer has been arrested for leading the attack on Corps Command Jinnah House in Lahore. Reports also indicate that some Pakistan Army Veterans too have been arrested for being part of PTI mob violence. Within Pakistan, even amongst PTI ranks, they have found it repulsive that War Memorials should have been vandalised.

Popular support for Imran Khan on the streets post-May 9 2023 is unpredictable as with Pakistan Army crackdown, PTI leaders exodus, and Imran Khan’s populism under direct and undisguised targeting from Pakistan Army, including trials by Military Courts seem leading to dilution of Imran Khan’s strategy of exploiting ‘Street Power’ for personal political gains.

Externally, Imran Khan cannot expect any support for himself in his ill-advised strategy of confronting the Pakistan Army from Pakistan’s traditional supporters like United States, China and Saudi Arabia. Ties Even Turkey will not step-in in favour of Imran Khan. All these three Nations value their ties with the Pakistan Army. 

The United States stood antagonised at the outset of his regime when he accused the Americans of plotting his regime-change. Addedly, he asserted that he would never seek IMF loans to bail out Pakistan’s economy. Ultimately, he had to beg America for the same.

China as per reports gt disillusioned with Imran Khan as he had started opposing the CPEC project serving China’s strategic needs. Lately, China went slow on releasing funds for CPEC but resumed after Imran Khan was displaced from power.

Concluding, unfolding events in Pakistan suggest that with Pakistan Army and PM Shahbaz Sharif Government on being on the ‘same page’ when it comes to opposing Imran Khan, moves are afoot to eliminate Imran Khan from Pakistan’s political dynamics by political disqualification in the myriad of corruption cases stacked against him couple with political isolation by splitting his PTI Party.

Imran Khan may have thus played his ‘Last Over” of his political games. 

Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

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