STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

In the early days of PTI, Akmal Mirza was President Rawalpindi. He was a committed and experienced political activist, liked by Imran Khan. It was important for the Partyto bring onboard members from diversified communities and professions. Akmal recruited a local lawyer, Aamer Kiyani, who was getting established in his career. I remember his joining event held at Kiyani’s home in Satellite Town attended by IK. Kiyani was a smart operator and made a place for himself by sticking close to the leader. During the lean years of PTI from 2002 to 2009, he was amongst the inner circle that included Saif Ullah Niazi, Sardar Azhar Tariq, Akbar Babar and Ijaz Butt. Kiyani had street smarts and being a known associate of IK, he dabbled in real estate and kept building his net-worth.

Kiyani contested a few elections but did not make it. Finally he got elected in 2018. Despite what people say,Imran Khan values loyalty and Kiyani was elevated to the federal cabinet. His position opened up avenues to accumulate wealth which he could not resist. IK found out and Kiyani was unceremoniously booted out. He slowly crawled back into good graces of the leadership, getting positions in the party. His misdemeanors left skeletons in his cupboard; so when push came to shove he buckled over. Apparently he is now the Establishment’s messenger boy interacting with Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Asad Umar. This pattern appears to be story of many who have fallen off the bandwagon. It will prove to be the much needed gut cleansing of PTI.

PTI is facing an onslaught and suppression of unimaginable proportions. The way the workers are being arrested, tortured and poorly treated is unheard of in Pakistan. Women are being disrespected, and laws are being flouted at will. The media freed by a previous dictator, Pervez Musharraf, has been completely muzzled. Disappearance of Imran Riaz Khan, the recent kidnapping of Sami Ibrahim and thousands of others who dared to open their mouth to dissent is shameful.

To what end? It appears that either it is an effort to prolong the rule of this corrupt mafia or the Establishment wants to rule by proxy through dummies. Pakistan seems to be going the path taken in Myanmar or the model used in Thailand. The brutality and cruelty is unprecedented in our nation. The only other comparable is Zia’s martial law, but that was confined to a few diehard PPP workers. This time around it is much more widespread and Zia’s methodologyis being deployed to peel away layers of PTI supporters. These vicious efforts may give short term dividends.However, the public sentiment is moving from resentment to hatred. The few that found Imran Khan unacceptable are getting converted in a wave of sympathy.

One needs to determine how this crescendo has been reached. PTI’s ouster last April was based on an assessment that out of power Imran Khan will wither away and his Party will disintegrate. The plan was masterminded by General Bajwa in connivance with Sharifs, Zardari and Fazal. The opposite happened; for the first time in Pakistan the people refused to accept the reincarnation of the corrupt mafia called PDM. Sharifs and Zardari had one focus; how to end the process of accountability so they can get away with stealing billions.

Within months PDM changed laws to remove the noose around their necks. All the cases against them fell like nine pins through compliant judiciary. At the same time war gaming was being done on how to discredit IK in an attempt to sever his bonding with the masses. Onslaughts like foreign funding, Tosha Khana, character assassination, corruption charges and false cooked up cases could not dent IK’s support. If anything it continued to grow as demonstrated by the results in by-elections.

Both sides continued to duke it out in the political arena. IK forced the issue by dissolving his Governments in Punjab and KP. Under the Constitution these elections were supposed to be held in 90 days. Ultimate devious and illegal moves were made by PDM to prevent these elections. Through frivolous laws passed in the Parliament to obstructing the Courts every trick was tried to derail the democratic process.

Realizing that the inevitable under the Constitution was about to happen, PML(N) under the captaincy of NS rolled out a conspiracy that started to unfold on May 9th. IK was hauled off from the High Court by uniforms maltreating and demeaning him to provoke a reaction. This was a first step of an elaborate plan. Demonstrators were permitted to march from Liberty to the Corp Commander’s house without any intervention by the police or army deployed in Cantonment. Demonstrators were infiltrated by agency operatives to cause widespread destruction at this location and other installations around the country.

Now the next phase has kicked in. PTI is being demonized on the media to prepare grounds for banning the party. Unbelievable atrocities are being committed against political workers and credible and respected voices in media are disappearing. Preparations are afoot to try political workers under the Army Act. It has evoked strong reactions internationally, especially UN’s Human Rights Commission. Demands are increasing to hold a Judicial Investigation into the events of May 9th. Dark clouds of an impending dictatorial rule have gathered. Pakistan, a basket case of economic disaster is now moving full speed ahead towards a democratic debacle. Where have all the protagonists of democracy disappeared?    

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