If you look at the news of the week it seems the systemic conflicts are deepening and the pot is boiling. Is it about to spill all over the place leading to an Armageddon?

My answer is NO.

Imran Khan continues to generate heat from his Adiala prison cell using every issue to make the pot boil. On one hand he talks about writing a letter to COAS Gen Asim Munir on the other he and his entire party continues to target the military establishment and its center of gravity, the top brass led by Gen Munir. Recently he has become more aggressive and reckless with a hand on the trigger threatening mass protests. He is using the recent Kashmir protests as a template. As a copycat, he is trying to cobble together an alliance of sorts to push back.

The reason why he is being so aggressive and desperado is two fold. One he has been treated as prima donna in jail and the second is he now really fears his conviction and sentencing in at least three cases for a longer spell.


His 190 million pound case, Cipher case and May 9 are the big ones. At 72, he knows if his final appeals fail, he will be deprived of politics for a longer period. When that happens, as a convicted felon he will be deprived of not only contesting elections but the usual media circus at Adiala that you see nowadays, too will vanish for good. So this is a do and die moment for Imran.

Interestingly, the interests of the lawyers, the social media fanboys and fan girls lie in Imran’s incarceration for a longer period. Longer he stays in jail, longer they will reap the benefits of dollars and political power at the cost of his incarceration.

The lawyers’ group gave too many lollypops to Imran and his sisters about his instant release. Buoyed by the “ Good to see you” moment, Imran and his sisters really bought into the feel good fables created by the lawyers. They just forgot that a new type of leadership had been catapulted at the top of the judicial hierarchy and the “ same ol same ol” won’t work now.

Imran sincerely believes that by a stroke of luck Pakistan will enter into an unmanageable crisis and his motley alliance with religious groups including pro TTP and pro Afghan Taliban groups blended with some sub-nationalist groups will give a big push and create a situation which can’t be handled by the current coalition and the establishment. It will result in the cracks within the current system and the establishment will be forced to concede and yield before him, he sincerely believes.

Here is why this Imran Utopia is doomed.

Imran’s fan club party has faced the raw ire of the state after May 9. While the top leadership had a rather comfortable period both in hiding and in incarceration, the young workers have faced quite a few hardships. Those workers don’t have the capacity to repeat what they have done previously.
The lawyers group, the parliamentary group and the social media club will huff and puff, and make Twitter trends. Their revolution will start and stop at long speeches, interviews and memes.

When it comes to disparate groups joining hands with Imran Khan, they have different dreams. After May 28, when Nawaz Sharif takes over the baton of the party, he can easily dissuade Maulana Fazal, Akhtar Mengal and Mehmood Achakzai and take the wind out of the sails of Imran’s new revolutionary bravado, only if he wants to.

Given the past record of Imran Khan’s foreign policy during his four year rule, no major power is willing to put their nickel or dime on him. He successfully alienated all and sundry.

Taking a rear view mirror on the Arab Spring, no major power including India will try to create chaos in Pakistan. It is not in the interest of any major world power to destablize a country of 250 million people with multiple fault lines and armed with nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Despite all the multipolar confrontation in the global arena, it is in nobody’s interest to create anarchy and chaos in Pakistan, something Imran wants desperately.

All western powers who are happy with the monarchs of the Gulf and the Zionist-racist Israel will huff and puff but would do nothing if Pakistan adopts more authoritarian route. It has happened before and it can happen now.

After all that described above, the fact of the matter is, how do we move forward?

The bigger challenge is not Imran Khan and his cohorts. The bigger challenge is economic. James Carville was right. It is the Economy Stupid.

The 90s brand hybrid democracy has created Kleptocracy and political oligarchs. The country needs massive economic and governance reforms, end of crony capitalism, tax reforms, modernization of agriculture, export oriented growth and meritocracy. Besides this the country needs de-radicalization and population control. The country needs massive investments in education, health care, genuinely empowered local governments and a pragmatic not a Xenophobic foreign policy to come out of the poly crisis we are in today. Can Pakistan’s ruling elite, both elected and unelected-elected take this challenge? “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”


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