Spare a thought for how Imran Khan must have felt as he looked in the mirror when, just a day after he waxed eloquently about the good that he has done for this country and its people and how his so-called crusade against corruption will never end, Transparency International (TI) poured cold water on his lies and revealed that Pakistan had dropped 16 places on its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), its worst position in over ten years. He’s still able to lie to the public with a straight face, but can he continue to do it to himself?
Remember the days when he would cite TI reports to badmouth PML-N leaders—even though now TI itself has now proved that corruption was at its lowest when Nawaz Sharif was in power—and say whenever corruption increases along with inflation it means the government is stripping the people clean? Well, now both corruption and inflation are the highest they have been in a very long time, so will he at least have the decency to honour his own tall claims and accept that this means that the person running the country is corrupt? Or will the yes-men who surround him for a shot at their own sugar mills and farm houses finally tell him like it is? Not very likely.
Remember also that in the middle of all this the prime minister fired his so-called accountability czar; the man who bragged to the world that he would drag the Sharifs to jail. Word is that Shahzad Akbar’s poor performance angered the PM, who will now have someone else do this particular dirty work for him. But nobody’s yet said anything about the status or fate of the truckloads of evidence Akbar had collected against the PML-N leadership. The same evidence that lost made him return red faced from a London court. And the same evidence that has been unable to prove even a penny’s worth of corruption on the part of the House of Sharif.
And what do you think he meant when he said that he would be more dangerous if forced from office? What will he say to people, if many of them still turn out for him, when he takes to the streets? What will he complain about? He’s heading the most authoritative government in living memory and could have done whatever he wanted. Or maybe the real fact is that he did do exactly what he wanted and, with time, people ralised what he was up to and have now had enough of it. And that worries him.
Everybody also knows that he’s lost that crucial type of support that lifted him to the premiership and kept him there despite his long list of U-turns and outright blunders. The fact is that the walls are closing in on the PTI government much faster than anybody had predicted. If, in his own words, the opposition was incompetent, then he must be credited with engineering his own downfall all on his own.
There is also an element of inevitable fate in all this. For such a powerful PM to be cut down to size as soon as he had arrogantly trash-talked the opposition and made threats aimed clearly at the establishment. When he goes to the people now he’ll be questioned about his own corruption. And how he weaved a long narrative, accusing others of what he was doing himself all along, and ruining the country in the process.
There’s a reason that PTI has lost a very big majority of local body polls and by-elections up and down the country over the last couple of years. When the people know they have been conned, they become unforgiving at the polls. Now they know they’ve been tricked by the King of Corruption himself, and only wait to vent their anger. How the mighty have fallen.