The PTI wave that emerged right after the famous 2011 Minar-e-Pakistan jalsa had brought with it immense support for Imran Khan, at least on social media platforms. His Facebook and Twitter supporters had crowned him the prime minister even before the 2013 polls, but the results on ground told a very different story.
— Belal Shaykh (@BelalSheikh7) July 18, 2016
Although Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan’s PM after the 2013 general elections and the rivals cried foul, Imran Khan was mocked that his supporters were only limited to Facebook. Some had gone as far as to mock Imran as ‘Pakistan’s Facebook PM’.
— Maheen Usmani (@MaheenUsmani) August 19, 2014
— Fawad Rehman (@fawadrehman) December 11, 2015
— Vote For Sher (@IbadJohiya) July 13, 2014
In 2018, the situation seems different. There is a list of journalists, social media teams and general users who are on a tirade of anti-Imran sentiments. They argue with many reasons, the foremost being the alleged support he receives from the state’s institutions, including army and judiciary.
We have come across a number of news stories on local and international media platforms claiming PTI is backed by the armed forces. Imran’s political rivals say the institutions are involved in pre-poll rigging that would benefit the PTI.
And then, there are those who maintain that Imran is not the best candidate for premiership. Videos have emerged on social media which show the PTI chief ‘misbehaving’ with his candidates and workers.
Imran Khan slaps his own party’s candidate — while climbing on the stairs to the stage at the Karak jalsa
Via Samaa TV pic.twitter.com/ySSN607a0c
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) July 21, 2018
خان صیب فرسٹریشن کا شکار ایک اور کو تھپڑ جڑ دیا
خان صیب ووٹر کو عزت دو pic.twitter.com/jXgNhnrYKy
— ™نااہل سیاسی مؤرخ (@Asmi_Malik_) July 23, 2018
Imran Khan greeting a supporter who walked up to him: pic.twitter.com/MMi54lV0n3
— Murshad i (@mrithejester) July 23, 2018
Some of the videos where Imran Khan is hitting his own party workers. Included @sufisal‘s photo at the end as that too constitute torture. There are more instances.#JeetKaNishaanTeer#ٹھپےپرٹھپہ_کتاب_پرٹھپہ#VoteforImranNA53#DunyaEelectionCellpic.twitter.com/ftx8dFNGXF
— Saahira Khan (@khanSaahira) July 23, 2018
Imran Khan Hits his own PTI Worker in Karachi. عمران خان نے کراچی میں ایک اور یوتھیے کے کان کے نیچھے لگادیا البتہ گرم تھپڑ۔ pic.twitter.com/HuW53v9MAc
— Noor Badshah Yousafzai (@NBYousafzai) July 23, 2018
Not to mention how Imran casually adds ‘Oye’ prefix when calling out his opponents. Before Nawaz’s arrival to Lahore airport, Imran had compared the people who would go to welcome him with donkeys.
Imran Khan calls PML-N supporters donkeys.
Mobilizing the base is a good strategy – assuming the base can deliver an electoral win.
The multipolarity of parties in Pakistan suggests that no party has such a base.
If so, such name-calling damages national aspirants. pic.twitter.com/jn6YsXS27d
— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) July 12, 2018
Plus, his somewhat controversial personal life has also caused woes during the electioneering. An autobiography of Reham Khan, his second wife now divorced, largely focuses on Imran’s ‘scandalous’ past and present.
Reham’s book summarized:
1. All Pakistani women, except for Reham, sleep their way to the top & are undeserving of respect. (Even though Reham is the only one who got her fame after marrying a famous man)
2. Imran Khan is gay but also a serial womaniser.
…That’s all folks.
— ایمان زینب (@ImaanZHazir) July 12, 2018
Despite all opposition, Imran and his followers are confident that he’ll be the next prime minister of Pakistan.
In Sha Allah Imran Khan will be the next prime minister of Pakistan!❤ pic.twitter.com/sLM9Kvz5Rs
— Saad Ansari (@SaadAnsari_Here) July 23, 2018