Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing at the COVID-19 Action Platform of World Economic Forum via video link on May 20. Image Credit: APP

Pakistan never fails to disappoint. Be it on the cricket field or on the political stage, the country’s mercurial path often takes all the world by surprise. However, in recent times, Pakistan has been in the news for the right reasons.

The country was recently re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, an honour bestowed undoubtedly following the rulings of the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan who had sent a strong message across the land that the rights of all minorities living on Pakistani soil be protected. Unlike his counterpart in India who has fragmented the country into a dangerous divide, Khan has sought to instill a sense of security and belonging to the Hindus and Sikhs living in the country.

Pakistan’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has won him praise on the world stage, and none more significant than the one coming from the Indian MP Rahul Gandhi who tweeted that “even Pakistan handled Covid better than India.” Such rare praise from an Indian politician is indeed very, very rare.

The country’s economic posture, for so long dragging on the generosity of other nations, has slowly begun to turn around the corner. Khan’s recent tweet on the economic health of Pakistan shows that they are headed in the right direction finally. “Current Account was in surplus of $73 mn during Sept, bringing surplus for 1st qtr to $792 mn compared to a deficit of $1,492 mn during the same time last yr. Exports grew 29% & remittances grew 9% over the previous month,” he tweeted.

On the right path

The road to recovery still remains slow, but at least it appears to be headed in the right direction. The past regimes of the PPP and the PMN-L leadership had reportedly emptied the coffers of the country’s treasury, much of which appeared to have gone into private gains. None of the previous leaders of Pakistan or their extended families can claim poverty as each one is richer beyond the earnings of a political servant. They may have been moderately wealthy before they assumed power, but the wealth in their hands today borders on the grotesque.

But greed never dies or withers away. Shunned from power since Khan assumed leadership, former leaders and their cohorts have banded together in a singular opposition party to create discontent and persuade the Pakistani people to let Imran Khan go. After all, there was still some gold glittering in the treasury that needed attention.

Pakistan Democratic Movement formed last month by nine major opposition parties who on record just a few years earlier had detested and mistrusted each other, began a nationwide agitation against the government. With both Mariam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto, offsprings of two former leaders, exhorting a mostly rounded-up crowd, last week tens of thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi as part of a campaign to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan. The fact that he was elected by an overwhelming plurality of votes by the Pakistani people perhaps did not dawn on them.

Political blame game

The campaign against him is seeking to blame him for the economic woes that the country was facing under Covid-19, a phenomenon not unique to Pakistan. The world for that matter is going through a similar financial turbulence. But yet, in spite of it all, Imran’s Pakistan has managed to show some gains, modest as they may appear.

All that has not set well with Admiral Afzal Tahir, a retired four-star rank admiral, writer, and the military historian currently serving in the faculty at the Naval War College of Pakistan Navy.

In a scathing piece against the nefarious activities by these politicians, he wrote: “All prominent criminals got together yesterday under the garb of All Parties Conference (APC). These criminals included those who are under scrutiny for or are proven criminals in cases of graft, kickbacks, money laundering, murder, blackmail, drug smuggling, working against the country’s interests, and sedition. Many other names can be given to this gathering like ‘Anti Pakistan Crusaders’, ‘All Patented Chors’, or ‘All Parties Cacophony’ and I am omitting the vernacular.”

He dismissed the PDM party as essentially a gathering of individuals who are sure of each other’s criminality, do not trust each other, have never managed to offer a united front due to personal and party differences, and are trying to portray a false face while being naive enough to think they can bully the sitting government and the establishment.

Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher once said: “When a bunch of known corrupt people unite against one man and spare no attempt to assassinate his character, blindly follow that one man!” Do not be deceived. Pakistan is on the right track in these hard times, slow as the recovery may be from years of looting and plundering, and the Pakistani people must rise in unison against such ill-motivated activities by these parties.

—Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena.