Abu Sayeed Ahmed
It has been two years since Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi took over power of Pakistan after two decades long political struggle. He had been a celebrity from 1970s. But, unlike others in the contemporary Pakistani politics, he lacked political family lineage though brought up in abundance. His successful cricket career and gorgeous lifestyle earned him the ethos of ‘Prince Charming’. In post-cricket life his philanthropic works like Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and Namal University worked beyond expectations. Still, he got chance for premiership after four unsuccessful electoral ventures.
His journey began with enthusiastic victory speech but grounded on harsh reality of decade long economic mismanagement, social stigma and failed diplomacy of Pakistani politics. His failure to appoint Atif Mian as economic adviser exposed deep rooted misery of Ahmadiya population in Pakistan which includes discriminatory Ordinance XX and Sections 298 B,C. Efforts like restoration of worship places for minority communities by his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are often shadowed by country’s disturbed past. Although, Kartarpur Gurdwara whose opening coincided with Babri Masjid verdict, it gave new diplomatic edge to Pakistan.
Before getting settled in diplomatic pitch PTI’s nuance came as Pulwama attack in Indian Kashmir leading two days long aerial conflict and repeated breach of ceasefire along Line of Control. Releasing Indian pilot did not subdue diplomatic turbulence for him. Although Kulbhushan Jadhav was not declared innocent of espionage and terrorism by International Court of Justice, India was granted consular access by the verdict. Re-election of Narendra Modi and abrogation of Article 370 push him in need of aggressive diplomacy. His emotional speech covering Islamophobia and Kashmir status in United Nations General Assembly became most viewed speech of 74th session followed by India’s right of Reply by Bidisha Moitra. But before he could carry on his Kashmir momentum new danger reached Islamabad in guise of Dharna by Fazlur Rehman (once pictured with Indian security sleuth Ajit Doval). Notorious of diesel hoarding, Fazlur Rehman succeeded to assemble chunk of opposition from liberal to who believe Imran Khan as Jewish agent. Even, veteran media-person Hamid Mir, famous for his interview with Osama Bin Laden, was seen in the stage. Imran’s administration outmatched the opposition providing them shelters and relief material amidst heavy rains.
Student Solidarity March came out to open another political front. Valid demand of student politics was under Silhouette of violent past of student conflicts. But Imran’s success came to allow the student protestors to agitate and promising a better campus political system.
Judiciary has not been too kind of him. Apart from controversial death sentence of Former President Musharraf or repeated bails of accused influential persons in corruption charges, rampage in hospitals by agitating advocates exposed administrations weakness over judicial systems. His party name Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (movement for Justice) or his vision of Riyasat-e-Madina remained a distant dream so far.
Imran Khan got nickname of ‘Taliban Khan’ for his opinion of ‘no military option in Afghanistan’. Eventually Afghan Peace talks reached to Doha agreement in his tenure. This success shaped PTI government’s US policy, which included spontaneous PTI rally with Pakistani diaspora in USA. US President Donald Trump addressed Imran as ‘friend’ even in Modi’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad.
One of his objections was with on-going China Pakistan Economic Corridor but after coming to power he continued same project managing some benefits in social aspects, example for fishermen in Gwadar. He maintained Pakistan’s relation with China, enriched relation with Turkey and Malaysia with personal relations, applied his driving skills with leaders of Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar. After hostility during Pulwama incident his visit to Iran eased the situation. His meeting with Putin in Sanghai Cooperation Group summit worked over on-going monetary dispute with Russia.
PTI administrations management of current crisis of Corona pandemic proved ingenuity by employment plan through plantation, idea of keeping economy active through low risk projects or smart-lockdown, negotiating IMF for debt management , raising volunteers over Tiger force and cash disbursement through Ehsas programme. PTI government fell short to manage dengue in Punjab. Now the absence of stable rule in Somalia and Yemen gave free rise of locust to reach deeper into Asia including Pakistan.
Internal political structure remained troublesome for Imran’s ambition. He won the election by a thin majority. Chief Minister of most populous province, Punjab does not have that popularity. Alliance in Balochistan is not stable enough. Conflict between late Naimul Haque and Fawad Chaudhry was subject of gossips. Senior leader Jahangir Tareen accused of Sugar corruption. He could not find friend within Media either. So, troubles keep coming for the World Cup winning skipper.