Imran Khan and erasing the bias of a harmful totalitarian worldview
by, Naseer Ahmed
Recent elections in Pakistan like the previous one have strengthened the movement towards far right, Islamism or like I say the twentieth century alignment of religion to totalitarianism. It has big support among population which is a consequence of a long time state spending on irrationality, animosity and anti humanity.
There is an international trend towards all such evils and when it comes to following the trends towards evil South Asia has to be there. And we are South Asians.
Even the progressive parties like People’s Party and Awami National Party did not try to reach out with some practical answers against the dominant trend.They thought that being ethnic or regional is a lot safer than going against the dominant trend in spite of their usual lip service to the universal democratic causes. In a way, it is acknowledgment, approval and surrender to a dominant national and international trend.
But this far right, Islamist and totalitarian stuff has been there since long. Zulfi Bhutto was a beneficiary of it. After the dismemberment of the country, it looked like that nation finally is united in its purpose of creating a welfare state out of such dangerous ideas, but it did not work for him and it did not work for Pakistan. Zulfi Bhutto himself had to talk like a proper democrat against the tyrant Zia, but it was too late for him.
Later on this fear of Benazir going astray in some western way was quite hyped up and we got another leader who could suit to the mission of higher purposes. For a while, he got into the dream of Ameerul Momnin (Leader of the Faithful) but it did not work for him. He had to assert some aspects of democracy and he had to be sincere to those aspects. As a consequence, he is in jail.
Now we have Imran Khan who is highly inspired by the twentieth century ideologues of far right, Islamism and totalitarian stuff. Let us see whether he would be able to create a welfare state out of these dangerous ideas or he would have to move towards democracy. If he moves towards democracy, he will have to be aware of the problems his predecessors suffered.
What would he do? We don’t know. He was on about corruption for a long time but he took a real narrow view of it. He mostly targeted the corruption of his political opponents. He even narrowed it down and in the end it was just about the corruption of Sharif family and Zardari family with occasional references to Maulana Fazalur Rehman.
Basically, the source of corruption is abuse of power and a worldview that is harmful to all. The financial corruption Imran Khan talks about is just an expression of abuse of power and a harmful worldview. Imran Khan ,it seems subscribes to the harmful worldview and quite silent about abuse of power because it was working for his purposes. You could see it in his behavior in Dharnas, the court decisions, the curbs on freedom of speech, the electables, the senate elections, the general elections and the appeasement to extremism.
When you make it clear that all is fair in a war, it is difficult to convince your opponents to wage a war according to the rules. It is possible that Imran may get the kind of heat he gave to his opponents.
Imran Khan has not changed his stance over his worldview. He still wants a religious, democratic, high-tech, business friendly welfare state rooted in tribal justice. We already have all that in the different parts of our country only the welfare part is missing. It would be impossible even for Imran Khan to reconcile all that and bring welfare to every side of it. He will have to drop a few things like religion and tribal justice, if he wants to have a democratic welfare state.
His other problem is that to be in power he made all kind of compromises just like his predecessors.The moment he would try to be meaningful, he would have to fight a social consensus that hates meaningfulness more than anything.
Pakistan has to be democratic the way its founder was. He was a democrat who would not abuse power and money. He would not discriminate against minorities. He would not subscribe to anti-democracy ideologies. He would respect democratic principles and democratic laws.
Could Imran Khan be all that? Mr Jinnah became a democratic leader after a long life struggle. Unfortunately, when it comes to democracy Imran Khan has not started that struggle as yet. His voters and his supporters also have not even started that journey.
Still, Imran Khan could be a pioneer if he wants. Otherwise, the established consensus about far right, Islamism and totalitarian stuff would continue.
Where would it take us? It was not a nice place in the past. It won’t be a nice place in the future.