It was the evening of July 25, 2018. The entire nation seemed to be so ecstatic about what they had just done, impatiently waiting for the results. It was the day of general elections and the nation was about to bring Imran Khan to power for the first time in the 22 years of his political career. The main reason behind Khan’s popularity was his eloquence. And like all the previous premieres, the glint of hope in his words. Pakistan, without doubt, had been abused at the hands of the kind of democracy that prevailed in the country. The people were tired of “leaders” who climbed podiums months ahead of elections and made promises about infrastructure development in urban areas that they were to forget as soon as their goods and chattels were transported to the palace—like Prime Minister and Governor Residencies post-elections. But Khan was different in terms of what he promised and that was the reason Pakistanis fell for it.
On September 20, 2014, Mr. Khan was addressing a rally in his white kameez and a green and red scarf symbolizing the colors of his party’s flag slung down his shoulders, when he said that he felt ashamed of the government asking for loans from Saudi Arabia. To quote, “I feel ashamed when I see these officials, sitting with their begging-hands wide open in Saudi Arabia.”
He, at that time, was telling stories of how he envisioned a Pakistan where “we would never beg anyone.” But fast-forward to November 2018, the newly-elected Prime Minister Khan was already talking about how taking U-turns made one a good leader.
Last week, as I saw the photos of the premier driving the Saudi-Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for his stay at the Prime Minister House, I remembered one more of the plethora of promises he made on the event of his first official address as a prime minister, that being the conversion of this grand residence into a public research university. As dreamy as it sounded at that time, what actually became of it? It was reduced to nothing but Jamal Khashoggi’s world-known murderer’s abode for a day and a night. Speaking of murder, we come to know of another trait of our prime minister: he can compromise on humanitarian issues and can sell his silence over such issues if the payment being made in compensation is big enough. And it’s not hard to find examples of this, just look at his participation in Davos in the Desert when the whole world was boycotting it upon humanitarian concerns and his pledging that Pakistan won’t let anyone attack Saudi Arabia, knowing fully well the situation of Yemen and how the Saudi coalition has been bombing it.
Despite it all, however, I am not going to count Imran Khan as a full-on liar. Never. He has spoken bare truth at times. One of those times was the November 19, 2018, when he said: “When someone gives you a loan, they take away your freedom. Your honor goes away.” And now that Pakistan has recently taken more than two billion dollars in loan and has 20 billion dollars in investment signed from Saudi Arabia, all we can do is wait and watch in what ways our country has become a slave to Saudi Arabia. We’re not doing this for the first time anyway.
Photo: Gulf News