The Foreign Office has confirmed that no foreign leader is being invited to the inauguration ceremony of the new prime minister. Where there was endless speculation about important political figures and celebrities visiting Pakistan to commemorate the PM’s initiation, from cricketers to Bollywood superstars, Imran Khan, keeping faith with his assertion of dispensing with extravagance, dispelled the idea of an opulent ceremony.
The move is laudable, refreshing and in line with the aspiring PM’s pledge of bringing modesty and prudence to the political office, and sets a precedent for a new political culture under PTI’s tenure, if such temperance is followed through. National events like the inauguration are ceremonial and should be conducted with moderation and decorum as opposed to becoming grandiose spectacles pandering to political aggrandizement. As a message to foreign dignitaries and contemporaries, a modest ceremony also communicates a sobering of the polity as well as conferring impartiality across the foreign policy board.
Where Nawaz Sharif had faced backlash over his overt gestures of amiability with his Indian counterpart PM Modi, instigating a rhetoric of ‘Modi ka Yar’ (Modi’s chum) that Imran Khan and his party used vociferously against the deposed PM throughout his campaign, the move is designed to demonstrate detachment. Where the aspiring PM has corresponded with neighboring political leaders and asserted his commitment to bilateral engagement, eschewing an elaborate celebration communicates a break away from Pakistan’s prevalent political culture of pandering and overstated bravado. If under his aegis, Pakistan is able to break away its sycophantic tendencies in the global arena, extricate itself from the ‘radicalization’ narrative and become a formidable player without isolating itself, it would go along way to resuscitate Pakistan’s global image.
In the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s problematic statements regarding the Mumbai Attacks, Pakistan’s political reality suffered a divisive tremor. By keep a neutral bearing in extending overtures this early in their appointment Imran is tacitly bringing that lingering disorder to an equilibrium for both the public and the establishment to take note of. The move also does well to demonstrate to the public that the new leadership is committed to curtailing expenses on the public exchequer, foregoing personal extravagances.
For now, the PM-in-waiting is devoted to inspiring confidence in the political transition, and committed to setting himself apart from preceding governments, a mammoth task given the pitfalls of the Pakistani political culture, yet one that can redeem the party if it remains unfaltering in its drive to dispense with the decadence inherent in our politics.