Reference article by By Tariq Butt in The News, “ Imran completes silver jubilee of U-turns “
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has a special love affair with U-turns and has by now completed quarter-century (silver jubilee) of volte-faces if one was able to correctly count them.
There is a strong likelihood that some about-turns may be missing from the list compiled by this reporter. Every time, Imran Khan reversed his previous stand, he gave his own logic and reasoning that was hardly convincing and impressed all and sundry.
His latest 180 degree turn was the end of boycott of the National Assembly. While announcing to stay away from the Lower House of Parliament, he had declared that he would not attend its sessions till a decision of the Supreme Court on the offshore companies against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children. Everyone knows that no ruling has come from the top court.
Before this boycott, the PTI had not turned up in the National Assembly for months in 2014 during its prolonged sit-in and had dubbed it as a collection of looters, tax evaders and thieves. After wrapping up that protest, it had ended the boycott to earn unforgettable boos and jeers from its parliamentary rivals.
At the time, the PTI lawmakers at the federal level and in Punjab had also tendered their resignations but had taken them back conveniently after doing away with the sit-in.
After the surfacing of the Panama Papers scandal, Imran Khan had quickly demanded a judicial commission headed by the chief justice but when the Supreme Court agreed to constitute it, he threatened to boycott it.
He had also called for a judicial commission to probe his allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections, but when it was formed and had started functioning, he had repeatedly stated that the time for such body has gone by.
The PTI had fully participated in the proceedings of the commission but when it handed down its report, it rejected them by finding fault with its findings. Another U-turn came when Imran Khan described his charge of “35 punctures” against the former caretaker chief minister of Punjab as a political statement, an opinion and not an assertion of facts.
Following the emergence of the offshore companies, the PTI chief tweeted that only reason people open offshore accounts through Panama is either to hide wealth especially ill-gotten or to evade tax or both. When the offshore companies of his own, Jehangir Tareen and Aleem Khan were detected, he justified their business.
Yet another volte-face cropped up when Imran Khan repeatedly talked about raising of the umpire’s finger for the dismissal of the Nawaz Sharif government during his 2014 sit-in. When cornered by this demand, he stated that he was referring to and not the then army chief.
Another big about-turn emerged when his civil disobedience call that he kicked off by burning the electricity bill in full public view came to a grinding halt due to total absence of public response. Despite this movement, he kept using the Sui gas at his Bani Gala residence and justified it by saying that children need warm water to bathe.
For a long time, Imran Khan openly supported Taliban but reversed his stand when he fully backed the universal decision taken by all stakeholders to launch the military operation Zarb-e-Azb.
To protest the US attack on the Salala check-post, the PTI blocked the NATO supplies going to Afghanistan near Peshawar for several days, but ended the blockade without any formal announcement or its demands having been accepted.
When the PTI lawmakers terminated their boycott of the national and Punjab assemblies in 2014, Imran Khan declared that the salaries that they would get would be donated. It was never done and the pays they received were utilized by them.
For a number of times, he projected his principal demand – resignation of the prime minister – and announced that he would not finish his certain protest without its acceptance. But every time he had to eat his words. He had to do so in 2014, again when the judicial commission to investigate into rigging charges was formulated and now when he returned to the National Assembly.
At the time of appointment of Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim as the chief election commissioner (CEC), Imran Khan had expressed total confidence in him and lauded his impartiality and credentials. But after the 2013 parliamentary polls, he took a huge U-turn by constantly slamming the highly respected figure, demoralizing him so much that the CEC preferred to quit the position prematurely.
When the present five-member bench of the apex court launched hearings, he tremendously supported it, but as it continued proceedings, he kept picking holes in its hearings. At one time, Imran Khan dubbed Sheikh Rashid as a person he would not hire even as a peon, but later he selected him as his chief political guru and continues to keenly listen to his advice.
There was time when the PTI chief lambasted Altaf Hussain for months and even proceeded to London to hand over evidence to British authorities against him. However, he subsequently went against his stand when Altaf Hussain’s party helped him to organize an impressive public meeting in Karachi.
Imran Khan gave firm commitment to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan that his supporters would not storm the Red Zone in 2014, but later he went back on his solemn word conveyed to him through a text message.
For quite some time, the PTI chairman extended all-out support to the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. However, he subsequently turned against him. The PTI announced for umpteen times that it has truckloads of solid evidence against the poll rigging and offshore companies of the Sharif family. But when it came to presenting the proofs to the appropriate judicial forums, its claims fell flat.
Innumerable somersaults or turnarounds have been observed in the PTI’s relations with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). For most of the time, the PPP received a severe battering from it, but there were spells when the PTI treated it decently. At one point, Imran Khan had canceled his visit to Sindh to address a public rally when his deputy Shah Mehmood Qureshi had launched the so-called anti-corruption movement in the interior parts of that province.
If he once dubbed leader of opposition Khursheed Shah as the “PA” (personal assistant) of the prime minister, he at another time stood behind him during a presser with the PPP stalwart leading the show to give the opposition’s point of view.
Last but not the least, Imran Khan had to go back on his threatened lockdown of Islamabad in the face of severe government measures to scuttle the unique protest.