No conspiracy, but what now?


It’s been clear for quite a while – to anybody but PTI and its supporters, that is – that there’s nothing substantial at all in former PM Imran Khan’s much trumpeted claim about a US-backed and financed conspiracy to remove him from the top job.
And once again the National Security Committee (NSC) has come to the same conclusion about the controversial cable forwarded by the previous Pakistani ambassador to the US, especially since the latter was made to appear in person and answer questions this time, but that is hardly going to be the end of the matter because the ball is, once again, in PTI’s court; at least as far as the public sphere is concerned.
So, what now? Is Imran Khan going to reject this as well and brand everybody in the NSC a traitor to Pakistan for not blindly swallowing everything that is thrown to them? This is a very sensitive moment because the NSC involves all services chiefs and treating its verdicts with such contempt means crossing all the wrong red lines; which in turn means that he and his followers must be prepared for the legal and political fallout that is bound to come.
It’s a shame that he’s wound the pro-PTI crowd up so tightly about a threat that apparently does not even exist and, for all intents and purposes, was only hatched to avoid the embarrassment of seeing Imran Khan become the first Pakistani PM to be thrown out through a legal, constitutional vote of no confidence. But since that still happened, it’s not immediately clear why he’s hanging on to a narrative that is clearly not going to stand up to the scrutiny of any legal process.
Or does he intend to make the courts even more controversial than he already has? He’s been asking for an open judicial probe, but what’s that going to see that the NSC didn’t? And since the most likely result will be the same, and Imran’s most likely response will also be the same, when does the legal process step in to restore sanity? Also, shouldn’t the overarching national narrative also now touch upon the likely fate of individuals and crowds that take the law into their own hands and itch for a confrontation with central and powerful state institutions just because their fallen hero said so?
These are very worrying times. And the least the political elite can do is respect the law of the land and the pivotal institution that deliver and implement it. So far, PTI has shown little respect for the law. It should change its ways or take responsibility for the confrontation that is going to define this society for a while to come.