Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s return to the pavilion after a three-and-a-half-year administration comes as utter disappointment for the Pakistani diaspora, as history records yet another government failing to complete its five-year mandate.
“Three years are nothing for any government to showcase its performance,” says Imtiaz Haider, who’s lived in Toronto, Ontario, for 22 years, runs a freight company and, like many Canadian-Pakistanis, expressed his “sheer displeasure” over the latest political turmoil in Pakistan.
“He doesn’t have a magic wand to clean a decades-old, severely corrupt system in a couple of years.”
Because the elected government is not being allowed to complete its five-year tenure, members of the community say they fear the opposition parties’ coalition will try to make corruption cases against them disappear.
On April 10, the Pakistani diaspora from across the GTA met in Square One, in Mississauga, Ont., to express their solidarity with the ousted government.
A former star cricketer-turned-politician, Khan on April 3 tried to forestall a no-confidence move against him in the Parliament, but the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored the assembly and ordered the vote to go ahead.
Ultimately, Khan lost by two votes in the 342-seat Parliament, with 174 voting against him, after Khan’s failed attempt for new elections.
Saleena Islam, an IT professional living in Brampton, Ont., for over 20 years, says that while some see Khan as an immature politician, she thinks “he is focused and has served the opposition right by [taking the issue to] a public arena.”
“Imran Khan depicts intelligence and was tackling the deep-rooted corruption head-on,” says Islam.
During his tenure, Khan allowed Pakistanis overseas to participate in the country’s politics through a right-to-vote.
Khalid Huda, a microbiologist in a vaccine manufacturing company, fears this may be taken away as the opposition forms a coalition government.
However, because he guesses that some 90 per cent of Pakistanis currently living overseas might vote for Khan, Huda ultimately “doubts (the opposition) will abolish this right.”
“The country is in the hands of thugs and looters again. They are liars and intend to malign its credibility,” says Huda, referring to the opposition, which has built a coalition against Khan. Huda says he believes “they are not as honourable as Imran Khan.”
Similarly, Haider also sees the opposition as being disloyal to the country.
“With no integrity, this group of … parties are not sincere even to each other. How do you expect them to be loyal to the country?” he wonders.
Khan’s was the first Pakistani government to be dismissed through a vote of no-confidence instead of through military takeovers like in the past.
However, the diaspora remains disappointed that the parliamentary chaos led to yet another government failing to complete its five-year term.
In Huda’s opinion, in the past, most Pakistanis considered it a political norm that opposition politicians would fight to dislodge the party in power and not allow them to finish their terms.
But “such chaotic events tarnish our country’s integrity and image of (the) overseas community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haroon Siddiqui, a veteran Canadian political analyst, author and former editor at the Toronto Star, sees progress in the way the current chaos has been handled when compared to the past.
“That Parliamentary democracy is maintained by a vote is a good development,” says Siddiqui, who praised that “Imran Khan has accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court.”
However, he says he also believes Khan is exaggerating the idea of a foreign plot against him and is “using it to attract street power.”
“He’s not sounding credible when he makes up the proposition of foreign interference,” says Siddiqui.
Poor economic performance
Although Khan appears to enjoy ample public support, the nation is divided over his administration’s economic performance.
Reports suggest taxes increased 29 per cent in the nine months of the current fiscal year compared to the previous one — a record hike.
And while the revival of a $6 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund has accompanied overseas remittances levels staying above $2 billion for more than a year, the rupee continues to depreciate against the U.S. dollar.
A growing trade deficit and increasing inflation have also made it challenging for the inhabitants of Pakistan to make ends meet.
And still, despite these fiscal setbacks and being ousted from power, many in the diaspora continue expressing faith in Khan’s power to lead.
Haider, for instance, says that while Khan has made some errors, his consistency and vision are unmatchable.
“He is the only leader, if a choice is given, to opt [for] from the politicians available,” he says.
For his part, Huda hopes fresh elections may be an opportunity to bring Khan back into power with revived strength, to continue what he began during his tenure.
Tazeen is based in Mississauga and is a reporter with the New Canadian Media. Back in Pakistan where she comes from, she was a senior producer and editorial head in reputable news channels. She holds a master’s degree in Media and Communication and a certificate in TV program production from Radio Netherlands Training Center. She is also the recipient of NCM's Top Story of 2022 award for her story a "A victim of torture, blogger continues fight for human rights in Pakistan"