EDITORIAL: Former Prime Minister Imran Khan wants the people to “take revenge” if he is assassinated, as he fears, because then a video will come out in which he’s already named who would have done it.
A threat to the life of a former PM is a very grave matter, no doubt, but is hiding facts, recording a mysterious video, turning it into another conspiracy and calling for mob justice the right way to handle it? Surely, Imran Khan knows he’s not the first Pakistani politician to feel that he’s in the crosshairs of his enemies, and that we’ve already lost one sitting (Liaquat Ali Khan) and one former prime minister (Benazir Bhutto) to assassins’ bullets and bombs; besides having condemned one to the gallows.
Benazir Bhutto also famously wrote down the names of all the people that she thought wanted her dead. And a decade-and-a-half after she was killed, all of them roam free. Regardless of whether her hunch about the perpetrators of her horrible murder was right, she could clearly have pursued the matter in a better way. Pakistan is a properly functioning country, after all, and there are laws and procedures to deal with situations just like these. And when those who have held and continue to vie for top office completely bypass, and therefore undermine, the security and legal frameworks and instead seek street justice, they don’t help anybody in any way at all; least of all themselves.
It also amounts to giving the real enemies of the country an effective carte blanche to try to score a point of their own because should, God forbid, something happen the whole system will automatically rush for Imran’ tape and all the names in it. That’s why beefing up his security was the right thing to do.
The government must still go a step further and make sure that it’s completely fool-proof. It should also, and no doubt will, press the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf) chief for more details, especially the names of the people he’s convinced are out to get him, their reasons for wanting him dead, and also their possible motives. It would also help if he clarified how he got to know of the plot in the first place. Simply repeating ad nauseam that an “imported government” wants him out of the way because of his “independent foreign policy”, and that now someone’s out to kill him as well, will no longer be enough.
Making serious allegations also requires one to act and behave seriously. Everybody knows that the economy is on the brink of collapse and the slightest pressure could send it tumbling over the edge. Already the uncertainty about the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) has got the international press wondering if Pakistan’s next stop would be a sovereign default, like Sri Lanka’s.
And the security situation is also worsening once again; which could give the economy the kiss of death if it deteriorates beyond a certain point. For a senior politician to be targeted at such a time, when the country’s politics is already the most bitter and explosive it’s ever been, would trigger the kind of trouble that simply cannot be handled at this point.
That is precisely why you’d expect anybody in possession of such compelling information to make sure that it’s addressed very urgently and in the most subtle manner possible. Yet Imran Khan is bent upon raising a storm over it. And while the government should make sure that no harm is allowed to come to him, he should also reconsider his strategy. So far, he’s done little since his ouster except complain, point fingers, make allegations, and present himself as the target of one conspiracy after another without presenting credible proof to back his claims.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022