Maybe you can learn a lesson or two from the APS embarrassment, Imran Khan

Published: January 15, 2015

People still have a soft corner for you, sir – even when you appeared to put your personal happiness before their sorrow. PHOTO: EXPRESS

You know you have done something very, very wrong when distraught, infuriated parents who have lost their children can still find the strength to tell you they don’t appreciate your show of solidarity.

That was exactly the public embarrassment that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan had to face when he bothered to show up at the reopened Army Public School, Peshawar – the scene of a heinous attack that killed over 130 children and shocked the nation last month.

I hope that Imran Sahib and the PTI leadership uses this as a wake-up call that they have kept this nation, their own voters, waiting for far too long. Here are some key lessons that they can learn from today’s protests.

1. Imran’s point that the attacked school is run by the army who is thus responsible for its security is completely valid. However, the students who attend that school and their parents are first and foremost Pakistani citizens who live in Peshawar, the capital of the province that PTI won by a huge mandate, which does rest some responsibility squarely on the administration’s shoulders.

When people vote for you or your party so overwhelmingly, they expect you to advocate for them. They believe that you will work towards improving their lives and speak out for their welfare. In a situation like this, making statements such as “we didn’t run it so it wasn’t our responsibility” appears to be attempts to shirk responsibility instead of showing resolve to take the fight head on.

2. People still have a soft corner for you, sir – even when you appeared to put your personal happiness before their sorrow. Even when you and your party leaders disappointed them by not showing up at the school even once in the month between the attack and the school’s reopening. Even when you chose to shift your focus and your energies back on your demands of alleged rigging barely a month since the attack. Even when you ideologically aligned yourself with parties that apologise for the murderers of their treasure, and when sometimes you did it too.

This is a huge responsibility, Imran Sahib, one that you have borne since you became this nation’s beloved by leading its cricket team to an unlikely win at the World Cup of 1992. You cannot fail us now; this nation, even those who vehemently disagree with your politics, still refuses to give up on you.

3. Winning an election is tricky business. When your people are hurt and scared, when they have lost everything they lived their lives for, they don’t care about rationales about who is responsible. Everyone is responsible, because everyone disappointed them and everyone failed to protest their children. So even in times when you feel your hands were tied, you will be held responsible because you are the people’s representative.

Also, remember that the lines you use can also be used against you – especially when they sound suspiciously like the ones used by “status quo” politicians, many of which found space in your speech after the APS protests.

4. Are public schools any better secured? At this point, you can sort of get away with it by putting all the blame on the army’s shoulders. But if in the future, God forbid, a public school were to come under attack, are you prepared? You are right in stating that the government cannot provide security to 65,000 schools across the province, so then should Peshawar’s students and citizens stop expecting that the administration will at least try to secure them?

This was an army-run school, what about the ones run by private individuals or organisations? Should they interpret this to mean they are on their own since those who run the school are the ones solely responsible for its security? Make your chief minister do his job to the best of his ability, instead of showing him a way out by making irresponsible statements such as these.

5. Don’t throw away these votes for the ones that you didn’t get due to rigging or otherwise. This nation, especially the voters in the areas you won, came out to vote despite immense threats, with terrorism one of the biggest. You and your party must get off its campaign trail now and singularly focus all you’ve got on governing for those who did vote for you.

Those who didn’t, or those whose was robbed, give them another chance with compelling reasons to vote for you. Your Naya Pakistan, sir? Show, don’t tell. Make it happen, and see the logical conclusion that this nation takes the movement you started.

This post originally appeared here.


Zainab Imam

A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam ( and blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hoshang Ansari

    Excellent article. Stellar. With thought proving viewpoints. Mr. Khan
    seems to have a history of bizarre, inconsistent behavior. Not something
    you would expect in a leader or future PM. By the same token, the PM Nawaz
    has not even set foot in K-P ! He is on his second overseas trip ! How uncouth
    and insensitive can you get. It is beyond the pale. On the other hand you have
    Gen. Raheel Sharif displaying true leadership.
    Last year, It took U Turn Khan 5 days to show up at the house of Aitzaz Hassan.
    The teenager who prevented his school from being blown up by a terrorists.
    Doubt Mr. Khan is PM material.Recommend

  • Home

    I do not think it is about who was running the school. Having been established by the army itself that the attackers had entered through Afghan-Pakistan border, whose responsibility was it to secure our borders? And then, they should have been in or around Peshawar for no-idea how many days, whose responsibility was it to make sure that the city was safe. Once entered into the city, the attack could have been on any public place. In my opinion, both the army and the provinicial government were directly responsible for the massacre. And it indeed hurts that none of them feels that responsibility (at least in terms of suspending those responsible)Recommend

  • Parvez

    A leaders must display characters of head and heart…..all leaders have ego’s but they never lose sight of of those they claim to lead.
    Imran Khan was given his first big test…..and failed big time. The disturbing aspect is that he insists on living in denial….blaming all and sundry except himself and his toothless advisers around him. At such a time a leader get up, corrects his mistakes and goes forward ……. lets see if that happens.Recommend

  • tayyaba rana

    its easy to criticize others but to prove that you r different is highly difficult. still i do not hv any hope abt him. he got far more than his stature.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Aptly titled. The watchword here is “maybe”. Only if he is a good leader will he learn a lesson, if he puts his ego before these victims again he will surely fall from favour.Recommend

  • UzairH

    I think its a problem of ego with IK. The first big public symptom was in the 1992 World Cup victory speech where he said “I have won it” instead of “we have won”. Back then I was a big fan of IK so I brushed it under the carpet. But now, instead of simply apologizing, saying “I’m sorry” to the grieving parents, he says it was a PMLN ploy? And he DARES to say that the school security was the Army’s responsibility? In terms of apportioning blame the Army and politicians and media who have been mollycoddling the terrorists for too long are ALL to blame. IK is among the major culprits in providing moral succor to the killers. However the fact is that IK’s party PTI is the one in power in KP province. The responsibility falls on his head as much as anyone else.

    This man has repeatedly displayed a cowardice (saying that he won’t condemn the TTP for fear of their reprisals) and a huge ego unwilling to accept his own mistakes.

    Nawaz Sharif may not be too intelligent but I am sorry to see that the alternate leader is even worse due to his ego and shirking of responsibility.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Gen Raheel is gone to London on his 2nd overseas tripRecommend

  • Sexton Blake

    The whole article and and following comments are just nonsense. The military were slack on security, fell down on the job and now have been given even more power for failing. Unfortunately, some people just love to kick IK.Recommend

  • Asad Malik

    Ironic coming from someone living in Chicago. Do you ever go to the east side in Chicago? Chances are you don’t because even the police feels uncomfortable there. Last year a two year old was killed by a stray bullet.

    Even though it is one of the most impressive cities in the US, the government still has issues with security. The security situation in Peshawar is even more dire and you simply cannot expect the government to provide security 24/7 to each and every childRecommend

  • Mahir

    Snd you dont see the embarrassment PML, PPP, MQM and TTP have caused. Your double standards towards PTI is sickening. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    When Imran Khan was campaigning for Dharna, he repeatedly pledged with entire nation that he would stay with his supporters 24/7 and would never go home until his mission is accomplished. Instead he did not spend a single night at Dharna because he was busy in some activities which were going end up in his marriage. He got married during peak Dharna days but did not announce his marriage because it would have destroyed his political career. If he had any sympathy with martyred kids and their families, he could have delayed announcement for another month. Only he had to do was to postpone announcement of something which had already done long time ago.Recommend

  • S Hashmi

    I for one will not be intimidated by all these personal attacks on IK. I for one commend a person who sacrificed his previous marriage for the sake of the country, who remarried in the simplest of ceremonies and who followed the instructions of Islam which allows no more than 3 days of mourning. I for one do recognize and thank Imran Khan for what he has done and is still doing for the country while others keep their personal interests above national interest. I for one am and will still remain one of his supporters. I for one can see that of the current lot he is the only person capable of taking Pakistan out of this quagmire.Recommend

  • Sick_of_1/2_baked inteligencia

    Maybe the writer can learn one thing or two about Pakistan in general and KP in particular. what actually happened during IK’s visit to APS Peshawar. of the political milieu how actually things turn around within. Sure she is not aware of the politicians who took Pakistan at sway less IK came into scene. Get your fact rights before making a hotchpotch by distorting the facts. touche’Recommend

  • Hobi Haripur wala

    Agree with you. Wholeheartedly. Could have delayed his announcement.
    Or, if he was not married, as he claims and insists, he could have easily

    delayed it for a short time. After the mourning period was over. Simply
    out of respect for the grieving parents.Recommend

  • Bikramiavalligath Kidwai

    Wow ! Coming from a FATA asylum seeker in Germany that is gross. Hope the Germans are taking good care of you. Don’t
    hesitate to ask if you require anything. And please, AVOID Dresden.Recommend

  • Dajjal

    ” Imran’s point that the attacked school is run by the army who is thus responsible for its security is completely valid.”

    Its Not Valid at all. While the security within the school and perhaps in the immediate vicinity might be the domain of the Army, the Roads leading up to the school and adjoining areas of Peshawar still fall under the purview of the KP govt and the fact that the Terrorists go to the school in the first place is the failure of the Govt not the Army, therefore that particular argument is without merit.Recommend

  • Salma

    Gen Raheel means business.Recommend

  • Tweet

    //Imran’s point that the attacked school is run by the army who is thus responsible for its security is completely valid.//

    Wrong. ARMY public schools come under the domain of the army. The first line of security is always provided by the army. If army can protect GHQ, so should it do to the school.

    //Even when you and your party leaders disappointed them by not showing up
    at the school even once in the month between the attack and the
    school’s reopening.//
    What could have they done at a closed school? Seriously tell me.

    //Even when you chose to shift your focus and your energies back on your
    demands of alleged rigging barely a month since the attack.//
    That was his basic demand. He just can’t quit from it as all his struggle stems from it. If he quit from your basic demands you will be the first one to call him a U turn master.Recommend

  • woody

    Taliban Khan got that moniker for a reason … he has yet to accept any responsibility for the years he spend defending these cowardly thugs.Recommend

  • Sarosh

    @zainab imam, express tribune column shud hav a logical focus for root cause of all evils in our governance, as a subject or as an institution… developmental economics/sociology/political science wil tel u whr the blame goes, to those who are at a secondary level of running the affairs, or those who are at primary level of affairs. there is a difference between resources to react and resources to pre-empt a scenario… all resources at all levels are driven by country, provinces are not states… ppl other than KP cannot withstand the evil looting carrried out by PMLn, if waiting is the solution, then zardari regime was enuff to teach about wat happens when nations wait for good to happen. when its comparison of performance of two peers then result looks good, but when its a looter against the one struggling, wait is done by nero, while rome was burnt (y)Recommend

  • Effendi

    I thought Southside Chicago was the most dangerous area. And this author does seem to be living in Uchicago area. Anyway, you don’t have to bring USA in the middle of Khan sahib’s criticism.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahmad Khattak

    Yes, and I’m beginning to think he’s right in not condemning the TTP. Terrorism isn’t a Pakistan problem. It’s a KPK problem. Insensitive thing to say? Yes. Far from the truth? No. For every one terror attack in the rest of Pakistan, KPK has seen at least 5. You guys condemn the TTP, they kick OUR asses. You cry your crocodile tears for a couple of days and then its back to the same old crap like this. Discussing pointless things, adding irrelevant opinions and, in reality, doing absolutely nothing of value or note. 16/12/14 is not Imran’s fault or the army’s fault. It is OUR fault. You and yours and mine – for living in cloud cuckoo land and thinking one man is going to appear out of nowhere and solve all our problems. For doing nothing besides praying and hoping that the big bad terrorists would just one day up and leave. Wake up my friend, because it’s not coffee youre smelling, it’s gunpowder.Recommend

  • Gul Zaman Ghorgasht

    Southside of Chicago is the most dangerous. With perpetual gang warfare, dope dealers turf battles and such. But it would be idiotic
    to compare Chicago with all this.
    There was no need to bring in Chicago.Recommend