Imran Khan is missing the point

The man on the street doesn’t speak for the nation, PM does
"Imran Khan is missing this point. Your language will become an albatross around your neck. P M Khan cannot escape this fate whether he stays in power or not."
"Imran Khan is missing this point. Your language will become an albatross around your neck. P M Khan cannot escape this fate whether he stays in power or not."File/ GK

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is facing no-confidence motion by a combined opposition. He has been charged with incompetence and failure on so many counts.

This is the kind of usual political battle, which is often witnessed in the democracies, semi-democracies. I don’t want to judge the kind of democracy that prevails in Pakistan, the country has its own history where the democratic rule has alternated with the military dictatorships.

So, there has to be some different definition for Pakistani democracy, perhaps democracy in suspended animation could be one of them.

The outcome of the no-confidence motion, for which the combined opposition of Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and host of other groups, have given a notice to the National Assembly secretariat, will either retain or change the existing landscape in the neighbouring country.

That’s given, and also some food for thought to both the sides on the political fence to devise their future strategies. For India, however, the political developments, have consequences. India, history has shown, is directly affected by the political shape of its western neighbour.

There have been many ups and downs in the relationship between the two countries; wars which inflicted death and destruction and peace overtures which brightened prospects of resolution of issues through dialogue.

Fundamentally, India is disturbed by Pakistan’s attitude and approach on terrorism. Pakistan lacks clear understanding and approach on terrorism. When terrorists strike on its soil, they are denounced as terrorists before they are invited to table for talks, granted amnesty.

This is strange. But this strange story is becoming too familiar now. A nation that has no clear-cut policy on terrorism, a bigger menace than the nuclear weapons, cannot stabilise internally and also cannot foster good relations with other countries.

Since India is victim of Pakistan sponsored terrorism and the newer tools that it is using to increase its trouble-making potential, Delhi has to keep a watch over what is happening in Pakistan and to what end. This is a strategic imperative for Delhi. For Pakistan, too, it is a moment of self-introspection.

Coming back to the no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government, the opposition, as is natural, has ratcheted up its moves to see back of the government in Islamabad. For the government also, it is necessary to play the chess board of political equations with equal care and caution to save the government.

That is fair. But what is not fair is the kind of the derogatory language that Imran Khan has used against his opponents. “ Chor, luteraoon ka tola” ( thieves, gang of looters)”. He has repeatedly stated this about the former rulers, particularly former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, and now he has turned his ire against PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari; who according to him had stolen the nation’s money and stashed abroad.

He would know it better, for he is the head of the government, and he has so many institutions at his beck and call to probe and take punitive action if what he says is true.

The PM institutionalising street language is a breach of the protocol and the decorum of the office he holds. In a democratic set up, wherever it exists and functions, there are two fundamental factors – people elect their representatives, the party with a majority of the elected lawmakers, on its own, or in coalition with other groupings, form the government, and the other set is called opposition.

The role of the government is to govern for one and all, and the opposition is obligated to raise the issues agitating the masses. There is bound to be a debate. The debates should be on issues and as such where the policies and quotable quotes emerge for the use by the future generations.

Pakistan PM often claims, as he was reminded by PML (Q) leader and former Prime Minister Shujaat Hussain about the model state of Madina, so therefore he should not ridicule his political opponents in the language in which he does. The veteran leader also recited this verse to drive home his point to Imran Khan.

O believers! Do not let some men ridicule others, they may be better than them, nor let some women ridicule other women, they may be better than them. Do not defame one another, nor call each other by offensive names. How evil it is to act rebelliously after having faith! And whoever does not repent, it is they who are the true wrongdoers.” (Sūratul Hujurāt, No. 49, Āyat 11)”

Naming the models is a good thing, it is always better if the language of leaders draws inspiration from the cited models. Imran Khan should have known this.

In a democracy, the basic essence of debates is decency in gestures and language. And when Prime Minister speaks, he has an added responsibility to choose his words carefully, for there is a decorum of the office that he holds, second, his words are heard as the manifestation of the nation’s thinking. The good choice of words carries good impression, and the street language quite the opposite.

More than anywhere else, the people in Pakistan, general masses, thinkers, and opinion makers have questioned the vocabulary of Imran Khan, and told him to mend his language.

Apart from the political leaders, Pakistan army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, also advised PM Imran Khan not to use foul language against his opponents. Imran Khan’s justification that, “ since people call them so, I am saying it too, what’s wrong”; Mr. Prime Minister, there are people in the streets who have street mentality and use street language, but PM picking up street vocabulary has no justification.

The man on the street doesn’t speak for the nation, PM does. Imran Khan is missing this point. Your language will become an albatross around your neck. P M Khan cannot escape this fate whether he stays in power or not.

Footnote: Khan presides over a nation that he claims is rich with its geo-strategic location, and he had offered to play a role to bridge differences between China and the US. How can he justify ridiculing his fellow lawmakers and their leaders at the time when he seeks a grand role in resolving issues between superpowers.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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