PTIs political alliances shows little real change is possible under Imran Khan
Working within a system Khan claimed he wanted to change is changing him instead
Principles, political awareness and perseverance without succumbing to enticing (yet compromising) alliances are essentials in order to change Pakistan’s corrupt politics and subservient, abusive relationship with the United States.
A few days ago, Imran Khan tweeted, “Dec 25 will be a watershed in Pakistan’s politics. Tsunami to destroy the corrupt political status quo”.
This would have been a bold statement to but for the fact that crowded around Imran Khan on the stage – at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally in Karachi on the 25th December, 2011- were countless veterans from the sewers of the same corrupt political status quo Khan has used as examples of what is wrong with Pakistan to build his campaign.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, formerly the PPP’s most senior man in Punjab and Zardari’s Foreign Minister until earlier this year, and Khurshid Kasuri, General Musharraf’s Foreign Minister between 2002 and 2007 are two new members of the PTI – two former Foreign Ministers who were officially mandated to collude with the United States on behalf of Pakistan during the era of the invasion of Afghanistan, the abduction and sham trial of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the relentless killing of civilians by unmanned US drones and the proliferation of US security services within Pakistan.
Anyone who is so naïve (the kindest explanation for Imran Khan’s change of stance) about the rhetoric and change of heart of such cut-throat politicians is absolutely unfit to take on the much more ruthless world of international politics. Pakistan is in need of a leader who can stand firm and shift its policies with regards to America – policies that the army generals continue to follow.
Imran Khan has rapidly lost credibility for making political u-turns in order to secure political support. Students of democratic politics would not be surprised since u-turns such as his are the norm for democratic politics. Britain’s deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who promised so much before the UK general election of 2010, is now one of the most derided politicians in Britain for compromising in order to share power. Similarly, Barack Obama promised much in his campaign and even after he assumed office (including the closure of US ‘gulag’ in Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay and domestic programmes), but, he is now widely criticised by former supporters for breaking promises.
Khan has just started on his path to power and consequently, he has started to make u-turns and has been quite open that in Pakistan’s system, he cannot reach a position where he can change things without making alliances. Even if he were different to some others – who are purely in the political field for personal gain – it would not mean that he is likely to change Pakistan’s politics or fortunes because, as he is sadly proving, working within a system he claimed he wanted to change is changing him instead.
He believes making these alliances and compromises is being realistic – that in Pakistan you cannot get into power without allying with your rivals; nonetheless, it is Machiavellian, still putting power about principle, which is the same as every other democratic political party, whether in Pakistan, Britain or America.
His naivety and compromise would not be so bad if he did not try to defend it with Islamic arguments. When pressed during an interview on Geo-TV about how he could accommodate tainted politicians against whom he formerly campaigned so strongly and built his own reputation, and at the same time talk about wanting a system like Khilafah Rashida (the era of the first four Caliphs), he gave the most astonishing justifications. Even Hazrat Umar and Khalid ibn Waleed (may Allah be pleased with them), he argued, once opposed the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wassalam) but later repented and came to become the strongest people championing the cause of Islam. This is no doubt true. But to compare the ‘conversion’ of Qureshi, Kasuri and others with that of these noble Sahabah is utterly misplaced. Moreover, to have accepted them into his party is one thing, but to promote them and display them in such a high-profile manner (in some cases, only days after their defections) is either extremely foolish or extremely opportunistic.
Arguing that Khilafah Rashida is the model for Pakistan, as Imran Khan did, is sure to win support in Pakistan. But, proposing credible policies based on Islam and a vision of Khilafah in the modern world has to go beyond rhetoric. Vague talk about an ‘Islamic Welfare State’, Islamic democracy, a Turkey-like system and a confused mix of socialist and free-market policies are not credible visions.
A real change would mean a break from existing policies of privatisation, ending alliances with America in its war-on-terror, or a policy towards Kashmir that does not abandon the persecuted population to actions of half a million Indian occupying troops.
Yet, PTI has indicated that it intends to continue the privatisation of state assets that has been ongoing in previous regimes. It claims this sale will be done transparently, which may reassure people afraid of corruption, but will not prevent loss for the citizens of assets that are rightfully theirs’ under Islamic law to investors who may originate from the USA, India, or China.
Whilst its declared policy to extract Pakistan from IMF/foreign loans is correct, PTI has also said it intends to grant ‘low interest’ microfinance schemes to the poor in an apparent attempt to generate economic activity, and to develop a ‘leasing and mortgaging’ of property—in other words, to introduce long-term, interest-based loans using debt to finance property purchase, one of the chief drivers of the global financial crises in the world today and something impossible to imagine under a real Islamic constitution. Moreover, to maintain a regressive tax like the GST is hardly consistent with an ‘Islamic welfare state’ if it acts as a barrier to the weak from being able to better support themselves.
What does ‘real change’ mean?
Real change cannot come to Pakistan as long as the military continues to serve US interests against its own population – under the deluded idea that they are somehow protecting Pakistan’s national interest. Real change cannot come by working within a system that will change participants so much, that if they ever reached the top, they would be bound and gagged by the relationships and compromises they made to reach there. Real change cannot come by paying lip service to Islam – promising something ‘like Khilafah Rashida’ – but implementing a random cocktail of capitalism and socialism. Sadly, whatever his intentions at the outset, Imran Khan and the PTI are showing that they will not be able to make a real change in Pakistan.
Hizb ut-Tahrir has, over many years, presented many articles, policies, books and reports including an Islamic Constitution to describe and detail what real change really means in its political work to re-establish the Islamic Khilafah State in the Muslim World.