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Imran Khan seems to be growing more agitated every fleeting moment. Over the last few weeks, Khan has insisted that a revolution is coming. In his marathon rallies, he has spoken about preparing the youth for 'proper Jihad'. He has repeatedly threatened and confronted the judiciary, bureaucracy, military leadership — basically anyone whom he perceives trying to block his efforts to get back into the Prime Minister's Office.

Earlier this month, he had said September will be the decisive month for his so-called freedom movement. In his framework, he has termed legal cases against him as part of the alleged ploy to push him out of electoral politics. Recently, the PTI chairman remarked that a conspiracy was being hatched to have him declared ineligible to contest elections.

However, he is insistent that his movement is not political anymore. His rallies are crammed with references of faith, morality, justice, and fight between good and evil.

“You will not succeed,” he thunders on those whom he has surreptitiously called the enemies of his freedom movement. “You will not find a place to hide in Islamabad if I gave a call,” warning that he was very close to making that call.

On some days, he appears as someone who is in the midst of a tough political fight. For instance, during an interview with Kamran Khan of Dunya News, Khan said that he was ready to talk because Pakistan cannot sustain the existing economic crisis, but lamented that no one seems to be ready to discuss the next elections.

At times, his views are nearly incomprehensible. At one rally, he can come out with guns blazing on anyone and during the next one, he could backpedal.

Before getting into the debate, one needs to ask: why is he doing all of this in the first place? What is it that bars Khan from taking a break from his harsh politicking and bitterness?

In all, why is he so angry, and at whom?

Does political opportunism explain his approach or is he worried about losing the momentum that his political campaign has been able to build? Perhaps, his interpretation about taking U-turns manifests his entire ploy to offset the competition. Maybe he feels that to disrupt his political foes intrigues, he needs to force them into a situation where they have no option but to engage him.

Undoubtedly, he has been able to revive massive support for his vision, regardless of how troublesome his political messaging may appear or the costs it has already incurred on the country.

For Khan, his political career is at stake and if that means going after the state apparatus with full might, so be it.

As Khan himself once said: ‘you cannot step in the same river twice.’ This essentially means that he has very skillfully, for good and bad reasons, not only created an aura of political instability around his ouster from power, but also prolonged his crusade for months. This has directly impacted the country’s besieged economy as financial volatility persists. Now, he wants his rivals in power to negotiate, arguing that the entire situation is the result of their political decisions. To some extent, he has successfully been able to convey to his electoral base that the powers that be are the ones responsible for his ouster and gradual sidelining.

On the other hand, one needs to ask what is it that drives Khan into thinking that the deck is stacked against him and that he will not be given a fair chance at the polls or allowed to come back to power.

Perhaps, in the short run, we may not know what Khan’s rivals are putting in motion. However, the growing urgency in Khan’s messaging suggest he is frustrated that his months-long crusade has not made a dent in the other side’s plans.

If Khan’s fears are true, then Pakistan is heading for another phase of misadventure and political instability in the coming weeks. If Khan calculates that his movement of agitation is not bringing the necessary dividends, he may step into the next stage of active street activism. Given that PTI is now in power in Punjab, his demonstrations could create a serious crisis.

However, before that happens, a lot could still go wrong in Punjab and elsewhere. It should not be forgotten that his government is dependent on the support of PML-Q.

In any case, the entire situation makes Khan a very dangerous player. After all, he remains a popular leader. Taking on him at a time when the incumbent government is very unpopular cannot go without costs.

Perhaps, they understand the risk of taking on Khan, and want to phase out his challenge by keeping him busy in legal hurdles.

The timeline here and the interests involved are such that the prospects of any dialogue are essentially non-existent at the moment. A relentless Khan, backed by popular support nationwide, doesn’t appear to be in a mood to go home quietly.

His drive suggests that Pakistan is far from the turning point of the ongoing crisis. With inflation testing people’s patience and floods ravaging the country, there is plenty of resentment all around. All of this makes Khan very dangerous. There are clear signs of trouble ahead, so brace yourself for impact.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Umair Jamal

The writer is Head of the Political Desk at Business Recorder (Digital)


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Aziz Ur Rahman Sep 21, 2022 11:41pm
Imran Khan first shoud think what will happen in the foreign funding. Conviction in that case is sufficient to finish his political career and an end to PTI There is also the nemisis of toshkhan
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