February 16, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
Imran Khan the Chairman of Pakistan Insaf Party (PTI) could have flashed like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a glowing star across the political horizon of Pakistan. But all these years in the politics he has remained a nonstarter. Once in a while he appears on the stage, frets and fumes, throws his tantrums and then recedes into the 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 boundless passion and limitless energy to make a difference but his fury and passion is invariably short-lived. He suffers from a chronic 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 high sounding 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 accomplishments.
He won the first and the last cricket world cup in 1992 thanks to his managerial skills and because of sudden favorable turn of events. In 1994, he established Pakistan's first and only cancer hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Center, bearing the name of his mother Shaukat Khanum who died 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; his own political party - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996, under the slogan of "Justice, Humanity and Self Esteem." He was then bubbling up with a brimming 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.
Undoubtedly, he is thoroughly honest and utterly unimpeachable. 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 traits 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, discussion or talk shows. But beyond that, barring occasional lashing outbursts at public rallies, he has failed to craft himself into a firebrand leader who would keep inspiring the masses.
Indeed, he is a non-conformist who shuns and is disgruntled about the style and antics of 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, et al.
Yet these are too lofty personages 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. Mr. Khan yearns to cast himself in the role of a number one victor, 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 robust public rhetoric or a forceful delivery of his point of view 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 of 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 fables in the books. The sincerity and earnestness drips from his every motion, and words and utterances. However, 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 and pulsating awareness 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 set for him? Is he hostage to the dreaded exposure of sensitive information about his private life which restrains him from going out of the way and walk ahead defiantly?
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 doctrine.
Khan supported General 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 the prime minister in 2002.
Similarly, Imran Khan bitterly criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but later joined him in 2008 against Musharraf. The Guardian portrays 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 mission 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 clarify 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 steadfast defender and resolute 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, 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 wrestle with his political contenders in order to excel. This is like fighting a multi-directional battle. Pakistan needs ruthless surgical overhaul of its entire body politic and radical restructuring of its moribund socio-economic edifice.
Can Pakistan throw up such an undaunted, absolutely upright and ruthless redeemer to rescue Pakistani nation from a perpetually trauma and unrelenting swindling by its trashy leaders? Such a person should be an aggressive runner and not a whimsical nonstarter like Imran Khan.
His Dharnas (sit-in) proved to be a strategy of catching the political bandwagon from the wrong side. The reason is that the Dharnas can sustain for a short period of time but then turn out to be an exercise in fatigue and futility for both the torch bearers and the followers.
Besides a whole horde of opportunists were allowed to enter the party thus polluting its pristine mandate and disfiguring its glitter. This is exactly what is happening to Imran Khan and his party PTI presently. Of late there seems to be a visible disarray and fragmentation in his party.
Finally his marriage solemnized after a long spell of time proved to be a disaster because of the wrong or unpalatable choice of a spouse. One would wonder if his choice of a partner of life could be erratic, how he would be able to diagnose and cure the innumerable maladies afflicting the body-politic of Pakistan.
It shows that he is prone to making whimsical or hasty decisions. Finally PTI provincial government in the Pakhtunkhwa is under the shadows of poor performance. Its chief minister Pervez Khattak is being blamed for a host of irregularities.
Note: This article was written some time back. It is being reproduced with the necessary changes.