Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s announcement of “Jail Bhari Tehreek” and asked the party ranks and file to get ready for courting arrests has baffled the political experts who call on the former prime minister to act like a statesman and avoid taking reckless decisions.
Several experts who spoke to The Express Tribune predicted a little chance of success of the arrest movement by Imran Khan. One of them even suggested that Imran needs to work within the Constitution and the parliamentary system, without making any compromise on his principles.
The PTI chief needed to work within the Constitution and the parliamentary system and he should try to emulate Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s constitutionalism instead of Mahatma Gandhi policy of agitation if he wished to be remembered as a statesman.
However, there are others who look at the announcement as Imran’s continued habit of conveniently taking a page out of his playbooks as required by the immediate need to reach his goals, saying that it is a strategy for political mobilisation and taking the political confrontation to the next stage.
The PTI chief announced the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ on Saturday, in response to the government’s roughshod tactics to muzzle the opposition. He said saying he would soon give the signal to move ahead in this regard and the party leadership would start ‘courting arrests’
“I consider this division as a continuation of his long series of rash decisions, especially the two dealings – en masse resignations from the National Assembly followed by the dissolution of Punjab and K-P [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies,” Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said.
The PIDAT chief said that if Imran wanted to be remembered only as an agitator and a great mobiliser of people for resistance, these decisions might be helpful but if he wanted to be remembered for accomplishing something positive, he would have to act as a statesman.
“He claims to be a great admirer and follower of Quaid-i-Azam; he should try to appreciate Quaid’s constitutionalism in contrast to Gandhi Ji’s agitations and non-cooperation movements which even Congress found hard to follow at all the time,” Mehboob added.
Dr Rasul Bakhsh, Professor of Political Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), felt that the PTI chairman was pursuing a “very effective” strategy – to stay aggressive and force the government make mistake.
“It is not that Imran Khan wants to go to jail along with others,” he said, but his decision was consistent with his strategy since his ouster from the government to keep political ball in his court, stay aggressive and make the other side commit errors.
“It suits his strategy because if he does that now, he will take it to elections; he will remain aggressive and offensive and the opposition and king’s parties will be on the defensive,” he said, adding that it would be a mistake on the part of the government to put so many people in jails.
Renowned political expert Zaigham Khan seconded Bakhsh analysis to the extent that everything was being done just to avoid jail as neither Imran nor other PTI leaders were ready to go to prisons in the wake of the recent arrests of senior leaders and supporters of the PTI.
While terming it the most difficult strategy of the PTI till now, Zaigham Khan said that Imran would need battle-hardened workers, who wouldn’t be crying for the release the next day. On the chances of success of the movement, he said Imran didn’t take time to change his strategy.
“Chances are that he may change his plans in the coming days instead of handing himself and others over to Punjab police,” he added. When asked, he simply laughed at Imran’s comparison with either Jinnah or Gandhi.
Emphasising that Imran can’t simply reject negotiations with the parties he opposed, PILDAT’s Mehboob said that the continuation of the parliamentary system required talking to each other to agree on such critical issues.
The date for the next election and any basic reforms needed to make election results credible and acceptable to both, the PILDAT chief said, stressing that Imran would need to control his anger, resentment, agitational urges and a tendency to portray things in black & white.