Some Thoughts on Imran Khan

By Nadeem Bajwa

Although I respect and admire Khan for the cricketing hero he once was, for the philanthropist he still is and for the revolutionary leader he aspires to be, I fail to follow him blindly as many of my fellow countrymen do. But to some extent their actions are justifiable by our political culture and the depths that we have driven our country into.

He might be patriotic, untainted by financial corruption and charismatic, but does that make him worthy of leading a nation or a country?

The road to revolution is not paved with fundamental contradictions, U-turns and half-baked theories. It is forged, inch by inch, by character, self-sacrifice, unswerving principles and passion for the people.

Those close to Imran speak of his hefty ego – the need to be the center of attention. It is understandable for a superstar who was mobbed wherever he went for two decades. That kind of fame is addictive. Remember the 1992 World Cup victory speech where he claimed the win as his achievement alone, forgetting to mention his team?

Imran khan has inexplicable and confused policies over certain issues. He has nothing to offer out of the box but rather relies upon conventional remedies. There is no comprehensive economic plan, that he has to offer, which can alleviate the economic difficulties Pakistan is in. I am not an economic expert but looking at the PTI’s economic plan, I failed to see where the resources are going to come from to do what the plan promises. The plan leaves several questions unanswered, such as: is only eradicating corruption or reducing government expenditures enough to eliminate all the budget deficits? Would it be possible to venture into low cost energy generation projects without borrowing?

I do not doubt his honesty and I do not doubt his intentions. I seek to judge him based on what he says and what he does, just like I would judge any other political candidate,

He is striving to bring change with old faces and new ambitions. He prides himself in opposing all dictators, especially General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, but the key leaders of PTI, such as Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khurshid Mehmood Kusuri, Jehangir Tareen, Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali, Mian Azhar are pawns that Musharraf played with. I must ask, if PTI gains power, wouldn’t that be Musharraf’s cabinet once again except for the change of Prime Minister?

He had very strong views regarding MQM and he was very vocal about that but it all ended when he had his public meeting in Karachi on 25thDecember 2011 leaving behind all the hot conversation he has had against MQM’s founding leader and an ambition to file a case against him in a London court. Imran Khan did not utter a single word about MQM leader, forgetting his own previous statements about the latter and about the violence of 12th May 2007, wherein a number of PTI workers were killed, and which is attributed to the MQM. His stance against MQM’s self-exiled leader, Altaf Hussain has created doubts that “hidden” hands are brining MQM and PTI closer.

In the past, Imran Khan had always raised his voice against drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan. After the infamous Salala check post attack by US-NATO forces and the resultant huff-and-puff of Imran Khan over it, the recent statement of US ambassador, Cameron Munter, that Imran Khan was not against the U.S. has astonished large sections of society in Pakistan, which had believed Imran to be a hardliner when it came to US policies in the region. However, it is to be noted that US ambassador’s statement came up only when Imran Khan has quietly visited US state department and stated “his case” to Washington.

Imran Khan has always been at the forefront of highlighting missing persons issue including Dr. Aafia Siddique’s case. In one of his speeches against the Musharraf regime, he had demanded that “the government of Pakistan tell us how Dr. Aafia ended up in Afghanistan with her three children? How can a frail woman attack US marines? Why has the government of Pakistan not taken any active measures to bring her back home to face any trial? The government needs to expose those who have aided and abetted the kidnapping of Dr. Aafia.”

In recent days, he has not uttered a word about missing persons or Dr. Afia. Is it because the foreign minister of Pervaiz Musharraf regime has joined PTI? Time has changed; a politcian has been born and gained popularity by using these burning issues, and now there is no need to look upon these forgotten souls.

Imran Khan talks about bringing the Taliban and other militant groups into the mainstream, mostly through dialogue, which is yet another contradiction as on the other hand he dismisses Jamat-ud-Dawa and vows to shut them down. Imran also strongly believes in the fundamentals of an Islamic state. However, whenever he faces the international media he talks about a free market economy and other liberal concepts, which in a way are contradictory in nature.

All politicians lie in Pakistan, but Imran Khan does it with a self-righteous impunity and feels he can go completely over the top.

The relative rise of Imran Khan has brought another disturbing and anti-democratic tendency to our already sordid political culture. Any argument against Imran Khan is addressed by attacking the credibility of the accuser or the questioner, often in disobliging terms. I have not seen that attitude except with MQM supporters and with PPP Jiyalas of the ‘70s and ‘80s. This trend is unmistakably indicative of a fascist tendency. And this trend did not start on its own but rather it came from the man himself. Listening to Imran now-a-days, one can mistake him for Bhutto of the 70s, in my opinion. To me his language is not of an Oxford or Aitchison educated person or a statesman,  but you can easily compare him with the likes of Jahangir Badar or for that matter Rana Sanaullah.

Imran Khan’s personality overshadows the party and that is a fact known to every person in the country, even his followers. In that way, his party will not be different from the parties that are criticized by him and his followers as being dynastic in nature.

Imran Khan’s slogan for a new Pakistan is more of an illusion rather than a vision for change. There is no clear vision behind the ambiguous slogan of a “new Pakistan”. It is more of rhetoric about corruption and the misdeeds of the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League (N).

No doubt every human being makes mistakes, but mistakes of a leader carry a lot more weight than mistakes of a common man. It was once said to me in this regard that it takes a courageous man to accept his mistakes but it takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes. Only God knows what will be the outcome of the elections but if PTI does come to power, I fear it may not go the same way in 2018 elections as did PML(Q) in 2008 and PPP 2013.

Surely we all stand for change but change alone is not enough, as change can go both ways. What we need is a change for the better.



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