By Faiz Al-Najdi:
I have a friend here in Riyadh-Saudi Arabia by the name of Muhammad Riaz Rathore who prefers to be called as his alias of Rathore Pakistani only. He is a simple but knowledgeable person – non-conformist and much opinionated on most issues. And, most importantly he doesn’t have any political affiliation or leaning of any kind. This makes our discussions and discourses on neutral ground – so to say. And, as such, the opinion expressed by Rathore Pakistani can be taken as those of the “silent majority” in Pakistan.
We often indulge in discussions on current affairs – local, national and international – and I must admit here our discussions, at times get heated up, but honestly when it gets over I find myself much educated.
These days Imran Khan finds himself at the center-stage of the Pakistani politics and as such he is often the topic of discussions everywhere – be it in office, public places, private gathering or for that matter anywhere.
In one such gathering I got hold of Rathore Pakistani to get enlightened about his opinion on Imran Khan. Here go my piercing questions and his candid answers.
Me: Salam Rathore.
Rathore Pakistani: I am Rathore Pakistani.
Me: Oh, very sorry my friend. Alright, Rathore Pakistani what do you have to say about Imran Khan?
Rathore Pakistani: I vouch with what Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan had to say about him.
Me: What? Did he say something about him?
Rathore Pakistani: Yes he did. In his recent Op-Ed in Urdu he said, “Imran Khan has no team, no vision and no mission and hence I pin no hope on him”.
Me: Hmmmm!! But don’t you think this is an unfair assessment especially after his successful show of force in his epic public address of 28 October-2011, at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore.
Rathore Pakistani: Well yes, that public address was a great show no doubt – as a large number of his enthusiastic supporters had responded to his call to gather. But again, as Dr. Qadeer said, “public addresses mean nothing – anybody in Pakistan can display similar show.”
Me: OK, I got it. So you are not impressed with Imran Khan; Are you?
Rathore Pakistani: No, that’s not the case. You asked my opinion about him and I gave one.
Me: But don’t you think both the present government and all the rest – hopeless bunch of politicians – have miserably failed time and again, are a great disappointment and hence it is time for change? And, Imran Khan is the person who can really bring the desired change.
Rathore Pakistani: Let me tell you one thing here. It is true the present government has not lived up to the expectations of the common people of Pakistan. It is also true that the whole other lot of politicians also have similar records from the past. In short both the parties in the government and the opposition have failed – in the past and now also. But having said all that I did, I am at loss to comprehend as to how does failure of others make Imran Khan a successful politician? In my opinion Imran Khan is trying to become hero on others mistakes and not on his own successes, achievements and performances.
Me: Hmmm. But this is not a fair assessment my friend. I do not subscribe to this, I am sorry.
Rathore Pakistani: Why?
Me: Come on, man. He won Cricket World Cup in 1992 for you. He has built and is successfully managing a Cancer Hospital – the only one in the country. Come on, give me a break!!!
Rathore Pakistani; I knew you would bring these on the table.
Me: Is it not the fact?
Rathore Pakistani: Yes all of that you mentioned is true.
Rathore Pakistani: Cool down man. Let me take out the air out of Imran Khan’s these two only balloons that he has.
Me: What do you mean???!!??
Rathore Pakistani: Relax man, relax. First thing first. The 1992 Cricket World Cup was won by the Pakistani Cricket Team of that time and not by Imran Khan alone. To be fair, the credit for the win goes squarely to Inzamam Ul Haq, Waseem Akram, Aqib Javed and Javed Miandad. Imran Khan’s performance in that game was dismal and lack-luster – and his only contribution was that he happened to be the captain of the team. And, secondly the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital is a great contribution from Imran Khan – no doubt. However, you should remember he did not build this from his own resources. A great amount of monetary resources that went into building this project came from the donors worldwide including those from Pakistan. Also, mind you the land for it was generously donated by the Pakistani politician who Imran Khan is accusing and abusing – of all sorts of nasty charges – day-in-and-day-out.
Me: So you agree with his achievements; Don’t you?
Rathore Pakistani: Yes I do agree about his contributions in these two above-mentioned fields. But if by winning Cricket World Cup and by building a hospital one becomes a great leader, savior and automatically qualifies to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan then my friend I think the West Indians should have made Clive Loyd the Prime Minister of the West Indies for life because he won three consecutive Cricket World Cup for his country. Likewise, all other winning Captains who followed suit should have been made Prime Ministers and Presidents of their respective countries as well. Besides, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan should have been made the Indian Prime Minister for founding Aligarh Muslim University; Diya Ram Jethmal should have been made the Governor of Sindh for establishing a great college in DJ College in Karachi. On similar account Nadir Shaw Eduljee Dinshaw also qualified to become Governor of Sindh for founding NED Engineering College in Karachi – way back in 1920 – at a time when this region needed engineers for construction of dams and barrages. And, from that extension make Abdus Sattar Edhi as the Prime Minister – he certainly has more contributions under his belt than Imran or anybody else has. My friend, leaders are born like Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were, and certainly not artificially made and propped & installed.
Me: Are you a Jiyala?
Rathore Pakistani: I knew you will make this comment – people like you who are Bhutto-haters always label others to be a Jiyala the moment he/she speaks good about Bhutto.
Me: No dear, that is not the case. Imran Khan spoke very high of Bhutto in his Lahore public address. I think he is a neo-Bhutto – a latter-day Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – or to put it in simple words – a reincarnation of Bhutto.
Rathore Pakistani: Ha Ha Ha!!! What a farce!!!
Rathore Pakistani: Read my lips – “this Khan is no Bhutto”. He is not even a shadow of him.
Me: How and why do you say that? He is a nationalist like Bhutto was. He is clean as Bhutto was. He is now very popular amongst the people of Pakistan like Bhutto was. He is anti-establishment, anti-American, etc like Bhutto was. Above all, he is the only hope – just the way Bhutto was after the break-up of Pakistan in 1971 and he wants to build a new Pakistan as Bhutto did immediately after the debacle of 1971.
Rathore Pakistani: You make me laugh, my friend.
Me: No, I am serious, man!!
Rathore Pakistani: You want me to respond to all of these?
Me: Seriously; Yes, go ahead; By all means!!
Rathore Pakistani: But you have to listen to me patiently as I will touch base on all of those “farcical adjectives” that you just mentioned to me about Imran Khan.
Me: Come on, I have been patient all along – I am always when I speak with you. I want to listen to your candid opinion man. I do that because I know you have “an informed opinion” which unfortunately most Pakistanis do not have.
Rathore Pakistani: OK, first thing first. Nationalist like Bhutto – No way. He didn’t even find a Pakistani bride and married a made-in-Britain wealthy white Jewish woman. Clean like Bhutto – No way. All of those racy and raunchy pics of his with the British blondes speak volumes about him about being clean. Added to it are his illicit and immoral stints of relationships with Sita White, Emma Sergeant, Goldie Hawn, Susannah Constantine, Mary Helving, …and the list goes on. Popular like Bhutto – he is popular and that’s correct but certainly not like Bhutto was. Yes he dreams to be like Bhutto and many of his supporters like to portray him as neo-Bhutto also. In fact his leader from Karachi Arif Alvi recently wrote an Op-Ed entitled, “From Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to My Kaptaan” (Ref: Express Tribune; 02 Aug-2011) in which he hopelessly tried to carve an analogy between Imran Khan and Bhutto. However, no matter what he and his people say and do I must repeat, “Read my lips he is no Bhutto”. He is anti-establishment and anti-American like Bhutto was – this is a hollow claim and in stark contradiction to what he says and what he does. On one hand he criticizes his opponents for meeting with the army and the American Ambassador and he himself is reported to have met with the ISI chief General Shuja Pasha and the American Ambassador H.E. Cameron Munter. The important thing to note is that he never disclosed his meetings to these people and never took the people into confidence about the purpose and agenda of his meetings with them until such time that the media leaked it. The people of Pakistan deserve to know why he met these people. He is the only hope just like Bhutto was after 1971 – well, he may be an emerging alternative leader but all of his rhetoric in and to public do not necessarily make him the only hope. I think this analogy is fundamentally a farce. He wants to build a new Pakistan like Bhutto did after the debacle of 1971 – but the question is: Where are his plans, his vision and above all the “golden team” to do all of these? It is like they say, “Easier said than done.”
Me: I am disappointed with your response really. Why the hell you bring all these craps – about his play-boy image of the past. He is a corrected-man now and has already repented about his past. I think you should forget about what he did in the past and focus on future.
Rathore Pakistani: My friend you should also be lecturing Imran Khan to forget about the past of Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. Why does he keep bringing up the so-called corruptions about the both every now and then? He should forget about other people’s past if he wants others to forget about his own past. In this connection I must add here, my friend, that a leader shall be deemed to be clean only when he is morally clean. History is replete with instances where popular politicians – the world over – have been destroyed when the stories about their sex scandal emerged. People will always look at the “content of the character” of their leader and not his rhetoric. And, I believe that no matter what Imran Khan does, his shoddy and shady past will continue to haunt him.
Me: You seem to live in the state of denial, my friend.
Rathore Pakistani: “State of denial”? How?
Me: You questioned about his plans, his vision and his team – and also keep talking about his past
Rathore Pakistani: Yes surely I did. Please educate me about the fact that on one hand Imran Khan and his cohorts lay claim to be very popular – talk about Tsunami of popularity – and are drawing “farcical analogy” between him and Bhutto and yet on the other hand are welcoming “Lotas (political turn-coats) into his party. If he was so popular amongst the people of Pakistan then he should not be hoodwinking the nation into this false belief. Instead of building his party over the heads and shoulders of these “Lotas”, he should be doing exactly what Bhutto did when he founded his party in 1967 and awarded tickets to his genuine supporters only – and certainly not to the Lotas of that time. History is the witness that almost all of them won their seats and even Bhutto returned winner from multiple constituencies. If Imran Khan is as popular as Bhutto was then he should award tickets to the second-third tier leaderships from every constituency – completely new political figures – and let people vote them and make them win the seats – like people did in case of Bhutto.
Me: But he has not awarded tickets yet to any body and certainly not to any Lota?
Rathore Pakistani: Yes – that is correct because the time has not come yet. But it is certainly clear that he will have to award tickets to anybody from amongst who have already joined him – the “wining-horses” so to say. These people will be from amongst these Lotas and they certainly will not arrive from the moon; will they? Look at the example of Shah Mahmood Qureshi. It is true he is educated, seasoned politician – and may be clean too – but he certainly is a Lota; his journey from PML-N to PPP and then back explains all. But look what happened? The day he joined PTI, he was made the Vice Chairman of the party. Imran Khan is trying to show to the people of Pakistan that he even doesn’t have anybody in his party-rank to take charge as the Number-2 of PTI and as such he had nobody else in his rank except to appoint a Lota in that position.
Me: OK my friend I got your point of view. So to conclude our discussions I would ask you as to what suggestions/advice you have to offer Imran Khan as you have had enough to criticize him for, already.
Rathore Pakistani: That’s a very good question. I was in fact waiting for you to ask me that.
Me: Hmmm; Very good!! I am glad at that.
Rathore Pakistani: I want Imran Khan to first establish his “genuine credentials” as a leader of this country.
Me: What do you mean by “genuine credentials”?
Rathore Pakistani: I will explain. I want him not to rush – but wait and emerge and evolve as a genuine alternate leader. Right now, as Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan said, he doesn’t have team of leaders with him who genuinely enjoy grass-root supports. All he has with him right now are the Lotas (turn-coats) comprising of the spent-force from Musharraf era and a bunch of disgruntled opportunists from here and there. In my opinion, instead of rushing into General Elections – as he is wrongly doing it now – he should have called in for the elections for the Local Government first. He could have ridden on his popularity to make a difference by winning a surprise number of seats for the Councilors. This could have given him Nazims and hence numerous “new faces” of leadership – with genuine grass-root supports. He should have called for the General Elections after this and then awarded tickets, for both National and Provincial Assembly seats, to these new faces only. This could have been a first step towards building his image and credentials as a “genuine alternate leader” of this country. Imran Khan must note that he can be propped up to become Prime Minister of Pakistan – may be yet another Moin Qureshi, Shaukat Aziz, etc. – but when he is gone no Himalaya will weep for him and no Indus would turn red for him – like it did in case of Bhutto and his daughter Benazir.
Me: But the government and also the major opposition party doesn’t want the elections for the Local Government, as they have their own axes to grind.
Rathore Pakistani: I know that. After the term for the last Local Government was over a new election should have been called. But why did Imran Khan not demand one? This is what is called establishing ‘genuine credentials” of a leader. In my opinion Imran Khan needs to set his priorities right. At present he is dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister and is just oblivion to all other issues before him. In my opinion this is a grave mistake that Imran Khan is doing. This will destroy him and hence finish his career as a politician. Please explain to me as to when Imran Khan can call in for “Dharna (sit-in) and rallies for trivial issues, why he doesn’t have the will and motivation for doing the same for the elections for the Local Government? What is stopping him?
Me: OK, one final question. Will you and your friends vote for Imran Khan in the forthcoming General Elections – whenever that takes place?
Rathore Pakistani: NO – not until he establishes his “genuine credentials” as an alternate leader. How do I know people want him as an alternate leader? In 2002 General Elections, he barely managed to win one seat of his own – that too via the courtesy of Musharraf. In 2008 elections he chickened out and boycotted. As I said earlier on, a convincing win in the Local Government elections, would have established his “genuine credentials” as an alternate leader. So, up until that I am not voting for him for sure – and neither my friends will. Period!!!
Me: OK, my friend Rathore Pakistani, thanks for your time. Take care.
Key Words: Imran Khan, Pakistan, PTI, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, PPP, PML-N, Lota
Faiz Al-Najdi is a Riyadh based Engineer and a Writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org