Barring some extraordinary event, the victory of Imran Khan’s PTI in the impending elections is an inevitable matter. With the full weight of the military, bureaucratic and judicial elites behind him victory is almost certainly guaranteed . The only question at hand now is who will become his coalition partner and at what cost in terms of ministerial portfolios will they extract from him .
To attribute Imran Khan’s imminent election success purely to a change in the establishment’s political leanings does not do justice to the situation and the dynamics of Pakistani politics.
The intervention of the establishment is necessary to enable a change in administration as the popular vote is irrelevant in Pakistani politics. The so-called ‘electables’ which constitute the established political dynasties have a stranglehold over their respective constituencies regardless of their political affiliations; they are guaranteed to win their seats. To garner some sort of change the security elites of Pakistan have to “persuade” the dynasties that it is in their collective interests to change their allegiance to whoever the security establishment favours and it is, in fact, an admission that the system is in fact ineffectual.
Although the security establishment has intervened, this does not change the fact that the popularity of Imran Khan reflects a genuine appetite for a change in the political direction of Pakistan .
The predicament of Pakistan is that the nature of this so-called change is cloudy, to say the least and what is being proposed is more of the same rather than any meaningful change.
To ask the supporters of the PPP of PML-N about what change they are looking for would be an exercise in futility as for various motives, they support the status quo. Hence the discussion of change is largely confined to the supporters of PTI and to a lesser extent the TLP (Tehrik Labayk ya Rasul Allah).
When questioned about their reasons for voting for Imran Khan and the PTI, a variety of excuses rather than reasons are given. “Excuses”, because Imran Khan’s recent actions portray a philosophy of “if you can’t beat them join them,“ and his acquiescence to the status quo is abundantly clear to his followers.
The excuses that are given for their continued support mostly revolve around statements like “he’s better than the rest”, or “even a 5 or 10 percent better, is better than nothing”. This reasoning and many others like it are problematic in that they betray an explicit admission that the solution that is being proposed is almost as tainted as the problem it is supposed to deal with. Furthermore, it shows an utter desperation that admits that in reality, no meaningful change is possible and that the rules of pragmatism dictate that it is better to settle for something however minuscule that is, rather than nothing and that one should accept the status quo and work within it.
This understanding contradicts the understanding of change that we find in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw). Allah (ﷻ) says in the Quran:
بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ فَيَدْمَغُهُ فَإِذَا هُوَ زَاهِقٌ ۚ وَلَكُمُ الْوَيْلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُونَ
“Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).” [Al-Anbiya: 18].
Furthermore, Allah (ﷻ) states in the Quran:
وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا
“And say: ‘Truth has arrived, and Falsehood has perished: for Falsehood is bound to perish.” [Al-Isra:81].
The Islamic concept of change is not the pragmatic change which allows the hegemony of oppression and misguidance by the acceptance of the crumbs that fall off the table.
Rather change according to Islam is a radical departure from all that is corrupt and rotten to the guidance of the revealed texts.
It is not the case that the Prophet supported the ascension to the leadership of the Quraish by Abu Sufyan rather than Abu Jahl with the justification that at that time he was marginally better than the former. Instead, the noble Prophet strove to find the means to implement the guidance from Allah (ﷻ) wholly and without compromise.
The nature of change is such that the pragmatic acceptance of the status quo, albeit with a tinkering at its edges, rather than leading to the demise of a corrupt system, actually prolongs and sustains the existence of this corrupt system.
This a fact is not lost upon those who advocate the acceptance of the status quo. The governments of the UK, US, France and a plethora of European nations that champion the pragmatic approach, hide the fact that change only occurred in their own nations with radical changes by revolutions or a complete removal of the old order as occurred at the time of Oliver Cromwell.
For the Muslims of Pakistan and the rest of the Islamic world, it must be realised that change can only be achieved by the complete removal of the current corrupt and ineffectual systems of governance to be replaced by the Islamic alternative based on the sound general awareness of Islam. All calls to work within the status quo are in fact calls to sustain and prolong the current corrupt systems, which have lead to the abysmal situation that we find ourselves in today.