Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, also known as Handsome, is in deep trouble just when his popularity is at its peak. Paradox, thy name is Pakistan. Even his detractors believe if elections were held today, Imran Khan will win handsomely. But a series of audio leaks (of the explicit kind) is beginning to chip away at his middle-class base. And the fear of what's coming has forced Imran Khan to dial down on his rhetoric against the establishment deeply loyal to the powerful military of Pakistan.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has confirmed the existence of a 25-minute audio that hasn't been leaked to the public but is apparently equally damning. The worst, however, are the three videos that some have seen but are afraid to share because they are so vulgar that they cannot be shared. A particular parody of the film Centipede may finish Imran Khan's political career, a Pakistani journalist said.
Imran Khan has not denied the purported audio leaks and only said the leaks were in poor taste as children could access it. About the said video, he has pre-empted the agencies by branding them deep fake even before they come to the public domain. He has said "meri gandi videos jaari honge (some dirty videos of mine will be released)". He clearly has seen at least one of them.
The political fallout of this battle with the military establishment, particularly the just exited Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, is proving to be a costly affair for the former cricketer who arrived on the political scene with a bang. Riding on his popularity as a cricketer and notoriety as an international playboy, Imran claimed to have shed all world desires since he held the tasbih (prayer beads) of Islam firmly in his right hand. Since then, he is seen with the tasbih even in his meetings with international leaders.
But a tiger doesn't change his stripes.
The new Army chief, General Asim Munir, and Imran Khan don't see eye to eye and Imran Khan did everything in his authority to prevent the former from becoming the Chief of Army Staff. General Asim Munir was the one who had shown up at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad with files that documented Imran Khan's corruption cases. When Gen Bajwa's extension came to an end, Imran Khan tried his best to have a favourite installed in his place. He began a long march that was cut short by an alleged assassination attempt. Then the audio leaks happened.
Now, Imran Khan is set to face some criminal cases for stealing from the state during his tenure as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The alleged selling of precious gifts has now snowballed into a major political issue in Pakistan but these are expected to turn into criminal cases. Another case that could dog him is the Tyrian Khan White case. Tyrian Khan White is a daughter he failed to declare in his election papers.
Tyrian lives with Imran's divorced wife and mother of his two sons, Jemima Goldsmith Khan. Tyrian was born to Sita White in California, USA, and later shifted to the guardianship of Jemima Khan since Sita White died of cancer.
Imran has denied fathering her but a California court has declared Imran Khan to be the father. He was asked to submit his DNA for confirmation but Imran Khan avoided visiting the US. Lying to the Election Authority could make him ineligible to contest the next time.
On December 15, 2022, the Islamabad High Court agreed to hear a petition against Imran Khan, seeking his disqualification for lying to the Election Authority about Tyrian's existence.
The worst political fallout is the distancing by his own colleagues. Imran Khan had announced that the assemblies of the four states under his party's rule will be dissolved on December 23. His coalition partner and chief minister of Punjab Chaudhary Pervez Ilahi found a legal way out to not dissolve the Assembly. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaaf has an absolute majority, the chief minister has not resigned and the Assembly remains intact. In Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, the Assemblies live on in spite of Imran Khan's announcement of dissolution. The leader's words have been heard but not acted upon.
Though establishment elements in Tehreek-e-Insaaf continue to be on Imran Khan's side, they are too deep in the power game to remain loyal if Imran Khan's larger-than-life image is dented beyond repair. One comforting factor is Imran Khan's support base in the military-industrial complex and among the rank and file of the military. Will that support base survive what's coming? The videos, if out, will definitely go viral as the audio leaks did. The sadiq and amin (Pure and Just) image, the vows of amr bil maroof (Enjoin the Good), and the dreams of Riyasat-e-Madina (The State of Madina that the Prophet of Islam established) do not go with the deeds of the handsome wannabe emir-ul-moineen (leader of the faithful). He is now increasingly being called the emir-ul-munafiqeen (leader of the hypocrites).
Imran Khan has hardly been speaking these days while his fauj of youthias (the youth brigade) continues to wage war against his opponents, in politics and in the Army. He is spooked that he is being spied on even now. Last week, he called in the Punjab police specialists to scour through his residence at Zaman Park, Lahore. His wife and clairvoyant Bushra Bibi is staying away even as her recorded phone calls are out, in which she is admonishing government officers who recorded evidence of the open burglary in the toshakhana (treasury). He is bugged that he is bugged. But he has no way to deny as the mountain of evidence piles on in front of the public, of misdemeanours, graft, and lust, for power and just lust.