Sunday, June 21, 2009

Imran Khan is a Non- starter

By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan the chief of Pakistan Insaf Party (PTI), could have flashed, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as a shining star on the Pakistan’s political horizon. But all these years in the politics he has remained a non starter. Once in a while he appears on the stage, frets and fumes and then recedes into oblivion to reappear all of a sudden at a time of his own choice. He runs his political bandwagon by fits and starts. He is sincere and possesses unbounded passion and limitless energy to make a difference but his fury and passion is invariably short-lived, He suffers from a perennial malady of inconsistency and conceptual bipolarity. He swerves from extreme to extreme on both sides of his agenda. He thunders like the charged clouds but then drifts away after a strong but brief shower of hyperbolic statements and strongly worded propositions.

Pakistan has ever remained in the dire need of revolutionary persons because the resolution of Pakistan’s daunting problems is beyond the competence of mediocre or self-serving individuals and parties. In the prevailing chaos, hanging over Pakistan since the demise of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Imran could have created a niche of a liberator, a redeemer or a revolutionary for himself with a bag full of meritorious services. He won the first and the last cricket world cup in 1992 thanks to his managerial skills. In 1994, he established Pakistan's first and only cancer hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, bearing the name of his mother Shaukat Khanum who dies of cancer. It is a charitable cancer hospital with 75 percent free care.

He was relatively young and robust when he made his debut in Pakistan’s politics, by founding in 1996, his own political party called the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) under the slogan of "Justice, Humanity and Self Esteem." He was then bubbling up with a zeal and reservoir of ideas for the betterment of Pakistan and to change the destiny of the people of Pakistan. But after almost over a decade of his presence in the political arena, it simply looks as if he has been merely dribbling and not directing the ball into the goal post.

He is undoubtedly honest and utterly impeachable. He is the repository of a reputation for being incorruptible. He has lofty ideals about Pakistan but he has failed to capture the necessary instruments and use the right strategy to translate these into concrete output. He talks very emphatically about the rotten system of Pakistan as exhibited and reflected from his stressful facial features and restless body language during a debate or discussion or talk show. But beyond that, barring occasional outbursts at public rallies he has failed to craft himself into a firebrand leader who keeps inspiring the masses. He is indeed a non conformist who shuns and is disgruntled about the style and genre of politics practiced by the traditional political players. He certainly looks distinct when it comes to the question of principles and ethics. But somehow he runs short of mobilizing the masses a la Chavez of Venezuela, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, Mahathir of Malaysia, Lenin of the former Soviet Union, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria and et al. But these names are too tall figures to be compared with most of the leaders in the third world countries, let along Imran Khan. But at least a cue can be taken from them as to how a momentous change can be brought about. He chooses to cast himself in the role of a lead hero but finishes as a kind of a runner up or still far behind. The pent up passion and gusto remains dormant and unleashed in him once he feels he has lighted himself by a small public speech or a forceful delivery of his point ofview at an electronic media forum.

There is no dearth of pious platitudes and rosary plans formulated and doled out by the best and the most fertile minds that if implemented would make the earth a much better place to live. But what matters is that there must be someone who can actually show these plans and projections the light of the day. The grandiose ideas and exalted ideals that Imran Khan has professed on numerous occasions are still like scriptures in the books. The sincerity and earnestness drips from his every motion, and word and utterance. But his outpourings have yet to trigger a salubrious change in the sterile socio-political landscape of Pakistan.

Is Pakistan turning into a civil society because of a relentless revolutionary movement led by firebrands and visionaries like Imran Khan.? Is there a re-awakening visible somewhere? The answer to these questions is certainly in the negative. So let us admit that Imran Khan has his limitations. But are these the inlaid genetic limitations that impel him to run fast for a time and then relent and rest till he can recapture his breath again? Or else, are these limitations imposed by external forces and agents that bridle him and keep him under the tab not to exceed the fixed contours. Is he hostage to the dreaded exposure of sensitive information about his private life which restrains him from going out of the way?

His political philosophy has been undergoing a ripening process since 1996 when he turned a politician. At the outset, he was a resolute proponent and a votary of the quick fix tribal system of justice. At that time he discarded democracy and institutional based governance. Thereafter, he swung to support democracy and representative form of government with a civil society tag. So he has been experiencing and undergoing changes and transformation of perceptions and precepts with regard to his political philosophy.

Khan supported General Pervez Musharraf's military takeover in 1999, but denounced his presidency a few months before the 2002 general elections.He was elected MNA from Mianwali, in 2002 elections. Once in office, Khan voted in favor of the pro-Taliban Islamist candidate for prime minister in 2002. Similarly, Imran Khan bitterly criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but later joined him in 2008 against Mushrraf. The Guardian described Imran Khan as a person who “preaches democracy one day but gives a vote to reactionary mullahs the next.”The rest of the political legions in Pakistan are a bit on the higher or lower side of Imran Khan. He can certainly make a difference if he breaks his self or externally imposed shackles and embarks on a political clean up and reformation journey in the political wilderness of Pakistan with unswerving courage and unmindful of the odds or consequences. First of all he has to firmly formulate and bake his political goals and mandate as to what he intends to do. Thereafter, he has to stand unshakably and uncompromisingly by his ideals and political philosophy. He should make himself a defiant defender and steadfast exponent of his manifesto and agenda for change.

“Revolution is not a garden party” said Mao Zedong, the legendary Chinese revolutionary leader and founder of the People's Republic of China. If a leader appears and disappears for fear of incarceration or succumbs under pressures then better he may not talk big or pretend to be an ideologue or a savior. Anyone including Imran Khan who wants to rebuild Pakistan as a modern, liberal and stable state will have to wage a relentless war against the corrupt and decadent system and its unworthy protectors. A real national leader will have to vie and contend with his political contenders in order to excel. This is like igniting a prairie fire. Pakistan needs ruthless surgical overhaul of its entire body politic. Can Pakistan throw up such an undaunted, absolutely upright and ruthless surgeon is simply asking for the moon.


  1. I often come across people who feel by having this or by doing this Imran could have brough change.Is bringing change easy?Revoultion takes decades.So it is bound that Imran takes a lot of time as he wants to see an ideal Pakistan.
    Comparing ZAB with Imran is absolute rubbish.ZAB might be a leader for an ethno nationalist sindhi but he failed to do anthing for Pakistan.What revolution or changes he brought to Pakistan.Pakistan remained same before and after Bhutto.Look at the party he left the most corrupt.He was found involed in election rigging.There were killing cases against him.So inshort,ZAB can not be considered as leader

  2. The problem with people are many:they don't understand that Pakistan's poltics and election are far away from common masses.The only thing which connects people to politicians are either ethno nationalism or development projects.
    ZAB had corrupt people around.The party he left has feuadals in majority so winning in election has laways been easier for PPP.Whereas Imran is total different case.he keeps certain distance from any corrupt.For instance,when he got to know that Fazal Ur Rehman is Musharaf's B team,then he started keeping distance from Fazal and criticized him wherever he got oppurtunity.