Imran Khan believed himself to be a virtual messiah who would cleanse Pakistan of ‘corruption’ and fight crusades against the corroding influences of western culture. His cult-like supporters still hold on to this myth but his dissolution of the National Assembly rather than face a no-confidence vote makes clear that he will do anything he can to remain in power.
The most galling aspect of the Imran Khan façade is the insistence that his government is being undermined by a Washington-led conspiracy. In playing this ‘card’, IK makes a mockery of the real impacts of imperialism on our lives, reducing complex and globalized logics of capital to a quest to save himself.
The Supreme Court will adjudicate on the ‘legality’ of IK’s decision. But this is not just a constitutional crisis. Pakistan’s ruling class is at war with itself. Imran Khan is the symptom, but all are implicated – moneyed politicians, political mullahs, civil bureaucrats, judges. And generals most of all.
It is important amidst all that is happening to remember that Imran Khan’s quite dramatic ascent to power was widely facilitated by the military establishment. The current impasse, then, is as much about Imran Khan’s person as the establishment’s perpetual desire to keep Pakistan’s politicians under its thumb.
Even if, as some suggest, the military top brass is divided on Imran Khan’s future, the establishment-centric system has failed the people time and again. That will not, however, stop all of its players claiming to act in the name of people. Yet the people masses are just bemused spectators, awaiting the next iteration of the game. Until we on the left are able to convince the masses to put their lot in with a genuinely transformative politics, we will continue to be subjected to these sensational episodes of intra-ruling class conflict. And the wretched of the earth will continue to pay the price.
Asim Sajjad Akhtar is an author, teacher, left wing politician and columnist based in Pakistan. He is an associate professor of political economy at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad