PTI chief Imran Khan’s claims of honesty, transparency and adherence to the rule of law stand exposed after ECP’s verdict in the prohibited funding case.
Presenting himself as a paragon of virtue, Mr Khan had imparted a moral and religious touch to political rivalries. He called his opponents thieves, dacoits and traitors. He told political gatherings that people would not allow their children to marry those whose parents supported the PML(N) or PPP. Khan even incited his workers to confront opposition leaders with damaging slogans wherever they came across them in public places. This led to several incident his, the one at Masjid-e-Nabavi in Medina being reported by the international media. Mr Khan maintained that opposition leaders would be heckled wherever they went, thus encouraging incidents among Pakistani expatriates abroad. It goes to s discredit that he spread intolerance to homes, legislative bodies, educational institutions, and workplaces. He made full use of his social media groups for the purpose.
The ECP’s verdict has provided the PTI’s rival parties an opportunity to pay Imran Khan back in his own coin. This would be revenge rather than politics. Some of Imran Khan’s opponents are calling for banning the PTI and declaring Mr Khan ineligible for taking part in politics. This can lead to the perception that they find themselves incapable of competing against the PTI.
The PTI can only be discredited through political process. Political leaders with popular backing, and Mr Khan is one, are considered martyrs by admirers if disqualified by courts rather than defeated in elections. Banning political parties is not simply feasible. When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto banned the National Awami Party (NAP), it got itself re-christened as the Awami National Party (ANP). What is more, the PPP later made alliances with ANP and worked together with Wali Khan as well as his successor. The PTI will smell as sweet to its diehard followers if given any other name.
The PTI faces a legal battle that could be a long-drawn one. It is In hot waters now but can re-emerge as a force if it learns from its mistakes and IK remains committed to politics. Neither is a certainty. The ruling alliance should let the ECP do its job. In case the Commission is dissatisfied with PTI’s explanations to the damaging charge sheet, and proposes legal action the govt should provide the courts whatever help they need.