Politicians and spiritualism

  • Loss of faith in people leads to belief in supernatural powers

Seeking spiritual help for political success is not a new thing in Pakistan’s politics though Imran Khan’s proposed marriage to a female divine is something never attempted before. Pakistani politicians irrespective of whether they were civilians or men on horseback have frequently approached spiritual figures for guidance and help. The ones ruling the country have done this when they sensed that they were about to be deprived of their position. Overpowered by fear and despaired of the worldly means they had employed to stay in office, they clutched at the spiritual straw. When facing a ruler who looked invincible, some in the opposition would approach spiritual figures. In both cases this implied a loss of confidence in people.

Soon after the 1965 war Pakistan’s economy declined, leading gradually to rise in unemployment combined with inflation. Ayub Khan’s popularity took a nosedive. As protests in both wings of the country became uncontrollable despite the use of force, Ayub Khan desperately sought spiritual help of Pir Dewal Sharif.

Benazir Bhutto consulted a Pir from East Pakistan when confronting Zia. When Zia died in a mysterious C-130 plane crash BB believed the Pir’s prophesy had come true. To deal with her later day travails she relied first on an Aitchisonian divine and a little latter on the Pir of Dhanakka Sharif who was notorious for beating the supplicants with a thick stick. Zardari the past master of wheeling dealing too had a Punjabi holy man who frequented the Presidency. Nawaz Sharif too is reportedly seeking the support of a spiritual figure from Hazara.

And now we come to Imran Khan who is doing something altogether bizarre by proposing to marry his female spiritual guide. Plato’s Greeks would have shuddered at the idea of someone marrying a Sibyl. Here is a leader who has studied abroad, claims to believe in democracy and people’s power but seeks to marry a woman whose face he maintains he has never seen and that too because she avowedly has spiritual powers that can help him in politics. Has Imran too lost hope in every other method employed by him for coming to power?



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