Minus One, Minus All


Andleeb Abbas

The latest campaign to succeed in “Minus One” is to make Imran Khan a victim of a blasphemy incident.

Minus One is equal to zero. Maybe, not in mathematics, but probably in politics. These are strange times. The country is in turmoil. The economy is in conflict with people. People are in conflict with the government. The government is in conflict with just “One” man- Imran Khan. The government, the establishment, the superpowers, and the local powers, all agree that “gun this one”. The economy is in free fall, because of Imran Khan. The floods are uncontrollable, because of Imran Khan. The public is upset, because of Imran Khan. There is political instability, because of Imran Khan. The donors are not funding because of Imran Khan. With this single-person obsession, the strategy they have for improving the economy, controlling floods, and reducing public anger is also logical- Minus One. And who is the one and only “fitna” (trouble maker) as they call him- Imran Khan? The opposition wants him eliminated, politically, legally, socially and if need be physically. That they did not foresee the response of the public is something that has been openly admitted. That they did not believe that all the power, money and torture in the world will not help PTI win elections is something that they have reluctantly realized. That the more they suppress him the more his support grows is something that they are still in denial of. Thus the continuous effort for continuity of the same money, power, threat, and torture formula continues. After Shahbaz Gill, another raid has been made on the close ally of Imran Khan i.e Saifullah Niazi where his laptop, phone etc were taken away. His wife’s phone was also snatched away in front of two small kids. Minus One is having an impact. But to the contrary:
1. Minus the Institutions-PDM’s priorities were very clear. Though they said it was inflation and economy that made them oust PTI, to date no debates, resolutions or bills have been passed to give relief to the masses. No policy for industrial revival has been made. The primary legislation has been made on two institutions NAB and ECP. The present government successfully clipped NAB’s wings to prevent white-collar crimes from being probed, benefitting 90 per cent of high-profile cases. Just one of the sweeping changes is in definitions. The definition of “assets” i.e. any property held by a suspect, whether in his/her name or the name of some relative has now been changed to assets only in the name of the accused. This change means the whole Sharif family becomes exonerated of billions of dollars of assets as they are all in their children’s names. Similarly, legislation on overseas voting and electronic voting have all been repealed. This makes these two institutions just shelter homes for the corrupt and master riggers. As far as elections are concerned, despite all rigging efforts, PDM still lost by-elections and the Punjab government.
3. Minus the Workers- The second biggest target for PDM was the mainstream workers of PTI. A list of top PTI workers was made before the long march of 25th May. Many raids started taking place in their homes. Women, children and elders were not spared. Each party prominent was slapped with terrorism and murder cases in an attempt to minus them from working on campaign activities. Imran Khan now has over 20 cases of all accusations imaginable. As the Punjab government went out of their hands they focused on Islamabad. Thus the Shahbaz Gill brutal arrest. The idea was to scare people so much that the party organization gets broken down. The latest round of raids includes not only workers but vendors too. FIA is being used to harass anybody working with PTI. There is also a plan now to start horse trading of MPAs in Punjab. However, for every worker arrested, there are many joining the party ranks. At the moment there are queues of women and men, who were never politically active, pleading for a chance to contribute. Designers, businessmen and actors, who traditionally stayed apolitical are openly expressing support for PTI.
Minus the Media- Media throttling continues. Blackout on PTI activities is a norm. Arresting and threatening anchors are a routine. For the first time, Channel licenses were cancelled. In an attempt to minus Imran Khan, his speeches were banned. When the speeches were live telecasted on Youtube, that was shut down. As they minus Imran Khan from mainstream media, he is becoming bigger in alternative media. Have a look at the viewership of the two jalsas, the first one in Faisalabad and the second in Gujranwala viewership. There was a difference of additional 2 million viewers on the Youtube channel of all TV channels. This is proof of the fact that the more you ban and stop people’s voices the more people want to hear them. What reaction is it having on mainstream media? Hardly anybody is watching it. The TV channels at the moment being sponsored by government Ads will find it difficult to attract Ad spend of private companies that have shifted to social media for advertising. This will in the long run minus and reduce Electronic media viewership even more.
Minus the Public-The whole purpose of all these minuses was to stop the massive public support following Imran Khan. The route taken was to punish even the general public. Ahsan Iqbal’s incident of Bhera, where a family chanted against him, was followed up by alleged threats and warnings to force the family to apologize. Four boys laughing at Atta Tarrar were sent to jail. This has enraged the public and made them more defiant and vocal in their support for PTI.
When all else fails, try religion. Every minus has resulted in a plus. That is why the latest campaign to succeed in “Minus One” is to make Imran Khan a victim of a blasphemy incident. The illegal use of taxpayer-funded PTV by a sitting minister to question Imran Khan’s religious beliefs is a campaign that is a last-ditch try to minus him through a fake encounter killing by pretending that it was an extremist reaction. Life and death are matters of God. To try to engineer them in such a way as to incite hatred and violence are matters of legislation and ethics. Already, social media is reacting against this open call for violence.
This is the extent of the plan to “Minus One.” However, minus into minus is equal to plus. To continue this tested, tried, failed strategy is insanity. But then fear and insecurity are classic mind muting bedfellows. The ability to think and create can only happen if the mind is open and fearless. A public surge witnessed never before is scaring the daylights out of the institutions. An economy that is in a spin beyond control is frightening all wits out of the government-thus, the inability to think, act and do differently. On the other hand, Imran Khan, a cornered tiger after the vote of no-confidence, is now roaring back; ready to deliver the killer punch through the long march call. The minus one, minus all match is in its final round.

The writer is a columnist, consultant, coach, and analyst and can be reached at andleeb.abbas1@gmail.com. She tweets at @AndleebAbbas