Former Prime Minister and present Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) Mr Imran Khan projects himself as a leader of the “Naya Pakistan” or a country in transition from what he claims as the clutches of corrupt and inefficient political and military leadership – the latter added recently after tiff over extension of tenure for then DG ISI, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.
Khan heralds himself as the messiah to save Pakistan from the corrupt and the so called, “neutrals,” which includes institutions as the Supreme Court of Pakistan based on judgement of the day going against him and his party and the bad Big Apple – the United States of America (USA).
The hatred of his Party of the USA is so strong that they have even condemned killing of terrorist leader of the al Qaeda Ayman al Zawahiri in a drone attack last week thus projecting that the sovereignty of the nation is greater than neutralisation of dreaded terrorist leaders.
What more when in power Mr Khan and his party buckled under pressure of public opinion and failed to implement an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has driven Pakistan’s economy further downhill.
Unrestricted populism has cost the country dear and while the newly anointed coalition government has faced brunt of the public ire in the provincial bye elections in Punjab where Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) could win only 4 of the 20 seats on offer in a province where it has a dominating presence, Khan is mobilising the masses calling for early elections hoping that he can cash in on the public sentiment of angst against inflation.
What more he now proposes to even subvert the election system by declaring himself as the candidate for all nine seats in the National Assembly where bye elections are being held on September 25 to prove the point that he is the most popular and acceptable leader in Pakistan.
Khan’s party is using social media very effectively, some thing which other parties as the PML N and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have yet to find an answer.
He also has developed a support base of the young and a middle class who are seeking a change from the corrupt dyad of the political class and the military. Yet for the aspirational class in Pakistan Imran Khan because of past performance and self defeating policies may not be the answer.
The poor performance of the Khan led PTI government during tenure of the Party in Islamabad is well recorded and is not being gone into here.
Some other vectors which have led to the conclusion of Khan being a destablising influence are summarised as below-
Accepting Foreign Funding
While Khan had declared himself to be above corruption sale of items that were gifted to him during foreign visits especially to the Gulf known as the Toshakhana case is now doing the rounds and is expected to be investigated. However an even more dubious scandal that has been exposed is that of funding of his Party. In a recent ruling the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has highlighted that PTI received funding from prohibited sources to include 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. As per the Daily Times, quoting the ECP, the PTI took ownership of eight accounts, kept 13 hidden and failed to mention three and the explanation provided by Mr Imran Khan through submission of Form 1 was “grossly inaccurate"
"PTI Pakistan, through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975, was a recipient of donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. Collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws," the ECP said.
In the written verdict, the ECP has noted that the PTI had "knowingly and wilfully," received funding from a number of companies to include the Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi, Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were "hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws". PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company which contributed the money is prohibited. "From both the companies, the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws." ECP has now issued a notice to summon the PTI chairman Imran Khan on August 23 in the prohibited funding case.
A group of MNAs associated with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) have filed a reference with the ECP seeking the disqualification of former prime minister Imran Khan from holding public office for allegedly receiving prohibited funding from a number of foreign donors. On the other hand the PTI claims that taking money from foreign companies wasn’t illegal in 2012 as the laws have come only in 2017.
Tiff with the ECP
Imran Khan has taken his animus between the PTI chairman and the chief election commissioner to the next level. Now he is also planning to be the candidate of his party for 9 seats to the National Assembly where bye elections are being held. He has also raised allegation that the ECP Sikandar Sultan Raja was appointed at the recommendation of the establishment or the Pakistan Army and the ISI and refused to accept full responsibility for the decision when he was the prime minister.
Commentators as Mr Shahzaib Hassan have blamed Mr Khan for using the media as a tool for propaganda and spreading his vile narrative. Hassan writes in the Friday Times, “He has used the media as a tool to spread lies against the institutions of the country”.
Disrespecting Fatalities in Helicopter Crash
In a serious misdemeanour the PTI supporters indulged in a vile campaign on social media over the death of a Lt General and officers of Pakistan 12 Corps based in Quetta in a helicopter crash due to poor weather.
The Dawn News reports that on August 1, six army officers and soldiers carrying out relief and rescue operations in flood-stricken Balochistan were martyred when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed in Lasbela district which had led to “a vile torrent of abuse against the military, with some tweets carrying a reference to “regime change”.
In a strong editorial on August 09, Dawn comes out against Mr Imran Khan’s use of foul language stating, “Mr Khan’s relentless vilification of the opposition in language that ill behoves a national leader has contributed much to the polarisation that manifests itself in the vitriol spewed on social media. When such ugliness is unleashed, everyone at some point suffers the fallout”.
Federal ministers Khwaja Muhammad Asif and Marriyum Aurangzeb condemned the negative social media campaign with derogatory comments
Resentment Against the Killing of Ayman al Zawahiri
The US drone strike that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri has raised questions over Pakistan’s possible role in the raid amid reports suggesting that the country's airspace could have been used for carrying out the precision strike on the al-Qaeda chief's safe house in Kabul.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry has raised questions on the possibility of provision of Pakistan's air space in the US drone attack that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri. He was responding to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Babar Iftikhar recent remarks that there there was no question of Pakistan soil being used for “such a purpose,” that is launch of drones for the attack on Zawahiri. Chaudhry wrote in turn in a tweet, "The question is whether Pakistan's airspace was allowed to be used to not."
And in an interview with Express News Imran Khan warned that "providing airspace to America" could damage relations with Afghanistan. "If we give space and if America conducts a drone attack in Afghanistan, it will affect our tribal areas. Do we want to become a part of someone else's war amid these crises?" he had asked.
Quite clearly Mr Khan and the Party is willing to let leaders as Ayman al Zawahiri survive and conduct their global terrorist campaign.
Anti US Campaign
Taking the Party’s anti US rhetoric further PTI leader Shireen Mazari on August 06 criticised US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome's visit to "sensitive areas", branding the envoy a "viceroy in all but name". "US envoy and his gang flying over sensitive areas of Pakistan on way to Torkham and surveying lay of land + official briefing and red carpet!
Areas ordinary Pakistani citizens can't go! "Blome [is] viceroy in all but name and arrogance writ large? One more US regime change conspiracy agenda item fulfilled!" she tweeted.
Conclusion – Khan Exposed
Clearly recent activities and statements by former Prime Minister and current Chair of the PTI Mr Imran Khan have exposed the destabilising campaign that he is carrying out and supporting party members who do so.
Mr Khan could well be reminded of the case of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Supreme Court Panama case verdict of June 2017, which removed the-then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and disqualified him for life as well, for dishonesty and for not being Sadiq and Ameen. In the case of Imran Khan, he reportedly did not disclose the proceeds of Toshakhana gifts in his annual assets declaration which was submitted before the ECP and also has been certifying that the Party has not received any foreign funding and thus may also be liable for dishonesty.