Why do people support Imran Khan despite his bad ballot?

A quick look at the data reveals dismal economic performance during Imran Khan’s tenure as prime minister

With former Prime Minister Imran Khan ousted from power, there are fears that he will now resort to agitation tactics as he did during his dharna (demonstrations) days before coming to power. Indeed, his followers are in the streets marching to the tune of a populist leader who has deflected the issue of personal responsibility for foreign conspiracies, and is instead to accuse opposition to betrayal.

Imran’s fanbase includes the educated middle and upper classes who see him voice their favorite concerns that define their perceived identity. Many of Imran’s supporters also reside in the West. This was evident from the fact that many Pakistani-Americans drove for hours just to listen and see him speak when the former prime minister visited the United States in 2019. More recently, some Americans d Pakistani origin have been seen on social media. burn their old Pakistani passports, to protest Imran’s ouster. This would have been unthinkable in the case of non-resident Indians (NRIs), because desh (country) is for the Indians what din (religion) is to Pakistanis.

Although these Pakistanis are fluent in English and enjoy Western comforts, they also face Islamophobia. Consequently, many such Pakistanis in the West cling to their identity by resorting to conservative Islamic beliefs on LGBTQ issues, maintaining their biases against Ahmadis, downplaying the West’s importance over imperialism and by taking care of the domestic problems of Palestine and occupied Kashmir. Imran was able to meet their needs in a way that previous rulers could not. As an educated, handsome, and well-known man, he gave voice to their concerns, affirmed their Muslim identity, rose up against the West, and was successful at the United Nations in securing May 15and become the International Day Against Islamophobia.

It doesn’t matter to its supporters that such a day is largely symbolic, that insisting on occupied Palestine and Kashmir is a dead end that deflects pressing economic issues in Pakistan, and that demanding condemnation of Islamophobia but perpetuating discrimination institutionalized against Ahmadis and religious minorities in his own country is hypocritical. Many of Imran’s U-turns while in power, hilariously captured by Khurshid Shah, are also conveniently ignored by his loyal followers. International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan issues, soaring electricity and gas prices, currency depreciation, lavish protocols and political compromises remain as relevant today as they were in 2019.

A cursory review of data on key economic indicators reveals dismal economic performance during Imran’s tenure as prime minister, compared to the last three years of Nawaz Sharif’s government from 2015 to 2017 despite accusations of corruption and nepotism . The numbers speak for themselves. Indeed, despite all of Imran’s rhetoric, growth has been much lower, and food inflation, unemployment, debt, taxes and corruption, all considerably higher.

To party/

Country

Period

Growth

Rate

(%)

Unemployment rate

(%)

Debt/GDP

(%)

Income tax (%)

Corruption Rank

Food

Inflation

(%)

PML (N)

2015-2017

5.27

3.76

65.97

20

117

^

PTI

2018-2020

2.45

4.24

81.67

35*

140*

3:30 p.m.+

Bangladesh

2018-2020

6.13

4.60

29.80

25*

147*

6.20++

*data from 2021; +March 2022; ++February 2022; ^ about 5% about

Source: Macroeconomic Trends; Trade economy

The data also reveals that despite Imran’s milk and honey rhetoric about making Pakistan a destination where foreigners would arrive to seek work, a rudimentary comparison with Bangladesh completely dismantles this rhetoric. Although it ranks higher in corruption, Bangladesh has a much higher growth rate and much lower debt, food inflation and taxes.

The proof is in the pudding. However, Imran’s supporters abroad and the wealthy in Pakistan are unaffected by the problems plaguing their compatriots in Pakistan, who are reeling under heavy taxes, poor services and soaring living costs. . In general, most voters don’t know enough about pressing economic issues with all the nuances to contribute to meaningful public discourse. They are usually driven by symbolic concerns and personality cults.

Thus, as long as their symbolic stakes are kept alive, their identity remains secure, and so their support for Imran Khan remains firm. They can afford to do so, as they have the luxury of criticizing the West and exalting Imran as an identity-strike exercise. Yet for all their blind worship of a populist demagogue, the truth remains clear that Imran Khan’s school report has been abysmally poor.



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