Judiciary and The Khan Netanyahu Connection

An extraordinary personality cult has been constructed around Imran Khan, its manifestations visible in his party propaganda, in exaltations in the press, in adulatory invocations of his apparently transformative leadership by Pakistan’s leading celebrities, and sports stars. He thinks of himself as infallible in his behavior by seeking to consolidate power in himself and his party. Imran Khan wants a personalized form of governance, seeking to present oneself as the savior or redeemer of his nation, while ignoring democratic values and promoting an authoritarian form of governance, he wants to funnel the populace in to a narrative control matrix that favors his interests. But perhaps he is not the only one, both Pakistan’s Imran Khan and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu have striking similarities, both have been attempting to control key institutions in their respective countries. In Pakistan, Imran Khan attempts to exert control over the country’s judiciary (undermine the rule of law), military, and imposing curbs on media. His government had been accused of pressuring judges to deliver favorable verdicts, silencing critical voices in the media, and undermining the military’s independence. Imran Khan is pushing for changes that would limit the Supreme Court’s powers to rule against the legislature and the executive. Similarly, in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has been attempting to control the judiciary and limit its independence. His proposed judicial overhaul policy, is seen as an attempt to consolidate power in the hands of the government and undermine the rule of law. Netanyahu is pitching for unconstitutional changes and undercut the judiciary.

Both leaders have a penchant for institutional repression facing criticism for attempts to consolidate power and undermine democratic institutions. While the specifics of their actions may differ, the overarching concern is the same, that they are attempting to undermine the independence of key institutions in order to consolidate their own power. Ultimately these decisions taken by a populist leader tend to weaken the federation.

Instead of heeding to the directives of the state institutions Khan with his cult of personality is standing volte face, trying to change and control the institutions. Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan had been attempting to control the judiciary in several ways. Through appointments he had been trying to influence the appointment of judges. When in power his government has been pressurizing the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, which is responsible for making judicial appointments, to select judges who are favorable to his government.

Likewise, with political influence, his government had been putting political pressure on judges to make decisions that favor of his ruling party. For example, in 2019, the government was accused of pressuring judges to convict former Prime Minister on corruption charges. Khan’s government had been using the contempt of court law to silence critics of his government. This law was used as a ploy to excoriate individuals who can be then punished for criticizing judges or the judiciary. His government used this law to intimidate journalists and opposition politicians who are critical of his government.

Moreover, through concocting references against of judges Khan’s government had been trying to malign judges who are seen as unfavorable to his ruling party. In 2020, Khan’s government filed a reference against Justice Faez Isa, a judge on the Supreme Court, after he ruled against the government in a case involving the Army and the Intelligence agencies, these all turned out be balderdash as this case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

These actions have led to concerns that even out of office his government is attempting to control the judiciary in order to consolidate its power and undermine the rule of law. An independent judiciary is essential for a functioning democracy, and Khan attempts to bring calumny down on the judiciary whilst threatening the foundations of democratic governance.

Imran Khan’s even out of government has been undermining the independence of Pakistan’s judiciary by exerting pressure on judges and interfering in court proceedings. This has raised concerns about the rule of law in Pakistan and the government’s commitment to protecting the independence of the judiciary.

Imran Khan’s trenchant confrontational style and efforts to challenge present system while pushing his agenda primarily based upon his logically flawed conception of ‘poison all the wells’ that if he cannot have the run of the place, then no one will, i.e. either it is him in the government and if not, then the whole system is crooked. This is creating political instability in Pakistan and this could lead to a breakdown in political institutions and exacerbate the country’s already volatile security situation.

Khan in a political rally, blatantly threatened a female judge Zeba Chaudhary, which springs from his sexist and misogynistic tendencies, he has also been known for making derogatory remarks about women during his political career. This goes to show his absolute disregard for the state institutions and judiciary. His supporters have been spreading propaganda in support of his cult of personality, using tactics like social media manipulation and targeted messaging to sway public opinion in his favor. This has raised concerns about the manipulation of public discourse and the potential for the erosion of democratic norms and values.

His political strategy has often been personality-driven, with a focus on his own leadership. His political demagoguery has led to social upheaval. He has been criticized for relying too heavily on his own charisma and personal appeal, rather than building strong institutions and relying on the expertise of his advisors. He has been effective at branding himself as a political leader with his political rhetoric based on nationalist and religious identity politics and in his hubris he has deceptively positioned himself as a defender of Pakistan’s national interests.

Asma Khan
Asma Khan
Author is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. Student of Defense and Strategic Studies, and a M.Phil. Scholar from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan Reached at asmakhandurrani595[at]gmail.com She tweets @AsmaKhan_47