A cricketer par excellence, apparently has checkmated himself perilously on the political chess board. All competitive sports and endeavors are essentially about having the ability to anticipate: how would an opponent respond or what strategy they may adopt; political games are no different.
The similarities between the various sports are hence an obvious aspect. In lawn tennis parlance, Imran Khan’s (IK’s) opponents have ‘aced’ him. His stealth-powered yorkers have either been well left or these have been ducked out, keeping and allowing for their stumps to be intact.
In limited overs cricket, when the top order batsmen fail to put enough runs on the score board, in the first few overs, the pressure only piles up upon those to follow.
And if it is a run chase innings, the anxiety gets the better of even the best of batsmen; and should there be early loss of wickets, panic sets in, the batsmen fall like nine pins; exceptions are ignored here. In this powerplay period, Imran and PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) government have scored well against each other.
But the scales are tilted in favour of the lone warrior against thirteen toothless Goliaths. The powerplay is coming to an end. Imran Khan bowls yorkers with accuracy, so the assistance of the pitch is a rare need for him; so whatever be the pitch conditions, he will attack to uproot the stumps and not just disturb the bails perched on them. He bowls no no- balls, hence the possibility of a free hit is a pipe dream for the opposing batsmen.
‘Advantage Imran Khan’ calls out the watchful referee, sitting over the nets.
The volley between Imran and the opposition that had begun once he took office in 2018 kept him on tenterhooks—he hardly had time for concentrating on administrative and governance issues.
His team wasn’t prepared. They were not the material of the 1992 World Cup team he had then led to success. To the contrary, the team looked more like Asif Iqbal’s team that toured India and got routed in the early 1980s.
During that time, the only glimmer was that Imran’s stardom status got a real boost: all the Bollywood divas were drooling over him. Adjudicators of then also said, “Advantage Imran Khan”.
The potential threat of a constitutionally correct, prim and proper no-confidence move against him was looming on the horizon since 2020 onwards when the more smart alecs of Pakistan’s political team were allegedly doling out Vitamin-M as a bait for his fellow parliamentarians to cross over the fence to be part of them. Imran Khan was naively confident that the umpires sitting on the high chair in the centre court could see the nets clearly, and would therefore not make an unfair calling to the back hand delivered to him by the opposition. A rude awakening he received.
Imran Khan didn’t realise the power of crisp and hard currency that has an inbuilt nuclear potential of destroying the deepest foundations of honesty and loyalty. Imran Khan did not take the threat seriously while the opposition was damn serious. The floor crossing happened.
The motion of no-confidence against him was moved and it sailed through. He left the office with just his red diary. He took only what belonged to him. He looked at the referee, who gave the verdict: “Advantage PDM”.
Defeated, but never dejected, Imran Khan remains relevant. Like a true sportsman, Imran Khan must have been reviewing the tsunami that had hit him that night, while scrolling the TV channels (this is what IK has said he was doing late that Ramazan night), and, lo and behold, the masses across the country in hordes had descended on the streets to protest his unethical and unacceptable removal from office, although done in strict conformity of parliamentary principles.
The response and reaction was overwhelming for Imran Khan and all Pakistanis. The fact it remained peaceful, and ended at sehri time, was a breath of fresh reaction by the populace. This continued for several weeks. The referee seated on the high chair, declared, “Advantage Imran Khan”.
The bat (made of willow) held by the people was ready to whack. Imran Khan held massive rallies, a record number of over 40 of them, one after the other, in different parts of the country. Imran demonstrated people’s power. That the unfortunate May 25th incident happened was sad, but it impaired neither IK’s popularity or the masses determined conviction. The referee (Awam) called it, “Advantage Imran Khan”.
The group of eleven (Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition or alliance) shall enter the election with no single symbol. In the United States, animals are commonly used as symbols for political parties.
The Bald Eagle is a national symbol. The Democratic Party, though it does not officially recognize it, but it’s symbol is Donkey, since the 1870s, and the Republican Party has Elephant as its official symbol since the Harper’s Weekly used it in 1862.
The Elephant and the Donkey are not even distant relatives, but they become one strong family, when it comes to the interests of USA; and domestically they fight against each other with the condition that none of them will declare as anti-state or even demand each other’s political annihilation on the pretext of sedition. They have learnt to live and let live.
As a small digression, if we were to allow the people of the country and not any regulatory body to choose an animal symbol for the various political parties; the choices may range from Ostrich (sunk in the sand) to the slithering Snake ( venomous); from the deadly Piranha to the loveable Dolphin, and from Owl (in our world the bird represents a fool, while in the West it is seen as symbol of intelligence ) to Wild Boar; and from Polar Bear to the wily carnivores Wolf. 118 election symbols were given by the commission, and the animals that were taken up included, Eagle, Cow, Fish, Stag, Tortoise (what?), Peacock, etc.
The choice often reflects the thought. Interestingly during the 2018 elections, one party had “Jahroo” (sweeping brush) as its election symbol; their objectives can only be imagined—take all in one sweep: no bleeding to death.
(To be continued on Saturday. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023