Supreme Court of Pakistan must call Imran Khan's bluff | OPINION

Imran Khan by lowering the esteem of the national Parliament has not only created conditions for domestic unrest but also weakened Pakistan's international standing at a time when the global community was looking up to Pakistan's role.

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As the Supreme Court of Pakistan deliberates upon the Constitutional validity of Imran Khan government's recent actions in the National Assembly, patience in Pakistan is running thin, Abid Sher Ali writes.

As the Supreme Court of Pakistan deliberates upon the Constitutional validity of the Imran Khan government's recent actions in the National Assembly, patience in Pakistan is running thin. There is a general sense of dejection and betrayal given that Imran Khan mindlessly stabbed into Pakistan's body politic without realizing how hard the battle for the restoration of civilian supremacy has been since the last military coup in 1999.

In fact, it is one of the darkest tragedies of our recent past that a person who reached the highest public office by selling the pipe dream of Riyasat e Medina to the people of Pakistan ended in digging up the democratic foundations of our mamlakat-e-khudadad for the lust of power.

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As someone who has been closely associated with the pro-democracy movement of the united opposition in Pakistan, what troubles me today the most is that Imran Khan, by lowering the esteem of the national Parliament, has not only created conditions for domestic unrest but also weakened Pakistan's international standing at a time when the global community was looking up to Pakistan's role in Afghanistan and the Russia-Ukraine confrontation.

What has been equally embarrassing is the way the government raised the bogey of foreign interference and forced regime change and blamed the US for the ongoing crisis. With more than 172 MNA clearly voicing their no confidence, a functional democracy would have had a seamless handover of power to the elected representatives without further questions asked.

But in Pakistan, Imran Khan fell back on his usual treachery to subvert the democratic process and charged opposition leaders with hobnobbing with foreign powers till the threat-letter fiasco exposed inconsistencies in Imran Khan's narrative. Isn't it quite unusual that the threat of regime change comes on 7th March, but on 21st March the US Under Secretary attends the OIC session and no one complains to her about the threat letter?

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The subsequent statements from the military establishment at GHQ and official denial from the USA that there was no such threat given, left no doubt in the minds of the people that Imran Khan had lost the floor test even before the resolution was officially taken up.

It's no surprise that Imran has always been his own biggest enemy and this time, also by lying recklessly, he had proven this old saying about him true.

We have been saying since 2018 that the elections which brought Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek Insaf to power were massively rigged in his favour. The very intention was to cultivate a pliant regime that would remain at the mercy of the powers that be, while the popular leadership was weakened and demonized. Over the past three years, Imran Khan proved all our apprehensions right by compromising on Pakistan's vital political, economic and security interests.

While Afghanistan remains Imran Khan's unfinished mess, Ukraine has now added to his nightmare. From being a game-changer in the region to a time when the incumbent President of the USA, Joe Biden, has still not got on a call with him, Pakistan's foreign policy has never been in such dire straits before.

The rising inflation, joblessness and de-industrialisation of the country have been creating social unrest while the IMF has been standing guard like a vulture. Imran Khan's only success has been the doubling of Pakistan's debt and fall in the rupee's value from 105/USD to 182/USD, a rise in the price of essential commodities with sugar, ghee, flour, cement and bricks becoming many times more expensive than before!

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In such a situation, Imran Khan's holding on to power by subverting democratic freedoms while at the same time failing to deliver good governance has been perhaps the first example of an elected dictatorship in Pakistan. We have seen military coups in the past, but in Imran Khan, Pakistan discovered a novice politician who is neither a general nor a civilian, neither a maulana nor a liberal but a stuffed toy who is cute to look at but has no will of his own and is totally incapable of leading a country.

It is this lack of agency that comes with the absence of legitimacy which has compelled Imran Khan to limp from one policy blunder to another while keeping the heat on his political opponents in the name of anti-corruption and by hijacking public narrative through troll armies and jailing journalists critical of the government.

So, today when the Supreme Court of Pakistan is debating the legality of the Deputy Speaker's rejection of the No-Confidence Motion, it is high time that an example is made of those who demolished the edifice of democracy in Pakistan. It is a moment of reckoning when the Supreme Court will either uphold the Constitution or lose its raison d'etre to exist. No doubt it is a tough choice to make, but we are hopeful that our judiciary will rise to the occasion and rescue the country from this crisis.

(This article is written by Abid Sher Ali, Vice President of PML (N). He is a former MNA and a federal Minister of State for Water and Power. All views are personal.)