Why is Imran Khan so racist?

Published: March 7, 2017

Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan speaks with party leaders at his home in Bani Gala, outside Islamabad, Pakistan October 30, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Captain of a cricket world cup winning team, founding multiple cancer hospitals and a University – Imran Khan had enough credit to be welcomed as a hero anywhere he went in Pakistan but he seems to be on a one man mission to lose all the credit he has and then some. To paraphrase the quote from The Dark Knight, you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become Imran. 

Imran has shown in the past that he is not averse to pulling any tactic to seize power – no antic is too shameful for him to berate the government or gain some political capital. I voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the 2013 elections – that was a time Imran could have ascended but his desperation for power since then has been highly troubling.

With every passing day Imran’s fall from grace seems to get deeper and deeper. Imran’s public denouncement of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final being organised in Lahore was met with vehement criticism. Here is a man who has called for millions of people to take to the streets for public gatherings with not even one-tenth of the security provided for the PSL final pointing the security risk of a large public gathering.

The tacit admission in that statement is that the lives of foreign players is worth more than the lives of his supporters who come out in numbers for his dharnas and jalsas. In the last decade, at no point has there been a time in which the risk of a terrorist attack for such public gatherings has not been looming – when PTI was arranging their massive jalsas, Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) jalsas were being bombed.

However, you can see some reason in his argument. Sure Imran is using the opportunity to further his political goals and bring the government down a peg at a time they are celebrating a success. The Go Nawaz Go chants at a time when Pakistan was showing a united front to the world may be in bad taste but in a democracy everybody is entitled to political dissent and it is understandable for PTI to cling to straws in such a scenario.

But Imran’s latest press conference on the matter is severely inappropriate for a leader of his caliber. Let alone a leader, the kind of language he used does not even suit a decent human being.

The video quickly went viral on social media where the PTI chief was heavily censured for using ‘vile’ and ‘racist’ language against foreign players, such as Darren Sammy who helped making the event a success.

I am not of the school of thought that Imran’s language in general has been too vulgar – the political landscape in Pakistan is much more vulgar than any words Imran can muster – but the words used by Imran in this press conference are plain racist.

He has no political enmity with the foreign players. There is nothing to gain by berating them – not judging them for the content of their character but by the colour of their skin. Martin Lurther King Jr would be turning in his grave.

According to Imran’s logic, a player does not qualify to be foreign if he is darker than Imran. The Punjab Government has shown that racial profiling is not beneath them and the PML-N ministers have often targeted certain ethnicites, associating their ethnicity with their terrorism. However, Imran has gone international with his racism.

Imran claims,

“I don’t know any of these foreign players, I have not even heard their names – the government seems to have grabbed someone from Africa and said look it is a foreign player”.

From a purely semantic point of view, Africa does qualify as being foreign for Pakistan but in Imran’s colonised mind only the white overlord would qualify as foreign. Ironically the only player from Africa was Sean Ervine from Zimbabwe, who is white.

Chris Jordan plays for England – a country Imran would know well as he visits often and bows his head to our British colonial overlords. Maybe Imran should have looked up his name before assuming every black person is from Africa.

At a time when the entire country was showing their gratitude to the entire West Indian contingent, particularly Darren Sammy, the megalomania filled mind of Imran was just looking at how dark their skin colour was and dismissing them as phateechar. A two time T20 world cup winning captain is a phateechar player because he looks like he is from Africa in Imran’s world.

When you are ready to compromise on your fundamental sense of decency and humanity just to gain the least bit of political capital and hope for support by appealing the lowest common denominator in all of us then you know that you have truly lost all sense of your ideals.

Imran now walks as the shadow of the legend that he was, much like Donald Trump, you do not even take his claims seriously anymore. The overriding emotion is that of pity for a man who wanted so much but is left with so little.

Imran may have wanted to be Batman but has ended up becoming Lego Batman. My apologies if Imran finds that comparison offensive because he does not want to be equated with a character that dresses in black.


Shehzad Ghias

A graduate from the LUMS Law School and is running his own theatre production company, Cogito Productions.He works as a theatre teacher at various schools. He tweets @Shehzad89 (twitter.com/Shehzad89)

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

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Well, PTIers! This is the man you voted for, standing in the line for hours on end.


  • Muhammad Abdullah

    Go nawaz go chants are the voice of nation, IK was not even there but the media tries to portray everything as his fault. Yes what IK said is wrong, really wrong, but having said that; a blog can not take away what IK has given to this nation.Recommend

  • Ali

    No wonder we are constantly ruled by Sharif’s zardaris altafs and diesels.

    Please get your facts right before trying to form masses opinion that’s your duty as av writer.Recommend

  • Ali

    He is wrong here but I will vote again because he is not corrupt.Recommend

  • KitKat

    IK has criticized the Nawaz Government indirectly (this is called politics) by saying phateecher word for players. We should not make it ego problem.Recommend

  • Maggi

    In the cricketing world these players were “Phateecher”. So what if Imran Khan called them. Relax and take it easy. Imran Khan is a legend and Authority in cricket.Recommend

  • ashar

    watch the comedy cum political commentary programmes and observe those so called foreign qualified journalist laughing at racist comments about people of African origin, wherever they are. All Asians are racists that is why they don’t marry African origin people even if they are Muslims.Recommend

  • AdnanKhq

    a correction, its wasn’t a PRESS CONFERENCE!Recommend

  • AnisAqeel

    Lust for power, this SOG thinks he is everything superior kind of a person surrounded by failed politicians and if some treason minded support is removed, he will be one man party from Mianwali as he was before he got instigation from our failed number one. Anything good happening in Pakistan is bad for his lust of power and so many good things are happening in Pakistan these days.Recommend

  • farhan

    I still remember the racist language he used against babar ghauri, who himself is a runaway from multiple land grabbing cases. But imran khan, whom is leader of a popular political party shouldn’t be involved in issues related to ethnic infightings. In past People accused him for biased attitude towards karachi based players.Recommend

  • tuk

    IK is definitely losing it! And the people chuckling are low-life scums.Recommend

  • Rizwan

    Maybe it is not Imran Khan who is racist, but the selectors who picked foreign players just because they were foreign and white, not because they were good, but to add glamour to the team. Perhaps they really are phateechar.Recommend

  • Imran Khan is a truly vile man-child. Hypocrite!Recommend

  • Rohail Rafi

    whilst his comments are inappropriate and not befitting of the man of his stature, they cannot be termed as racist. He was one of the cricketers who vehemently opposed Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s and never accepted to play there.Recommend

  • Parvez

    There’s really no way to describe Imran Khans stupidity …. even calling it a political faux pas is to elevate its status. There’s a saying that Imran Khan should heed, possibly its too late, but then he can still try ……A smart person knows what to say. A wise person know whether or not to say it.Recommend

  • Sami Shahid

    Now Imran Khan will say ” I have always been fighting against racism ” !Recommend

  • fasi

    What a CHEAP and low grade article I have EVER read.Recommend

  • Nana

    IK has not only insulted the guests but the public of Pakistan also who were super happy to see cricket and players among them. The fact is, the fellow has always been enamoured by the West but the Oxford education failed to polish him. The World Cup which he won was 24 years ago. What has he done for the game after that except to cash his popularity to become PM (?) of Pakistan, PM of the public whom he has insulted. That’s it. He no longer is my favourite player after these racist comments.Recommend

  • nadia

    I am not sure Africa was meant in a racist term as described – derogatory yes. I did not get the impression that he equated Africa = black. It was a disappointing speech nonetheless.Recommend

  • The Analyser

    An open and honest person who is live on TV 24/7 everyday, presenting his view point and answering questions on almost every matter of public interest, a few mistakes, misunderstandings and exaggerated allegations are bound to happen.
    You can take everything from Imran Khan, you cannot take his humility, his sincerity and his love for the country and its people.
    He is not clever like the other leaders who don’t even come and talk to the media from Nawaz Sharif to Maryam Safdar and Hamza Shahbaz; befooling the nation through their media cells, probably funded through the public money. What kind of democratic leaders they are and what kind of nation we are?!
    Where were all these so called educated critics, who have learnt to draw some letters (Most of these critics probably learnt the word ‘racism’ only today and jumped on the bandwagon);
    — When the laws were passed quietly in a single night to transfer billions abroad and then changed in the morning by the political leaders, and they are carrying on with plundering our money, leaving the country and the nation in a severe distress, under development and full of all kinds of social issues.
    — When the Pakistanis are handed over to international powers without a second thought.
    — When the lists of Sikh leaders were passed to India.
    — When the leaders are compromising, quietly, the interests of the nation and the country day in day out.
    Even the video itself is clear, it is a very informal environment discussing things in a very light mood off the camera. The things said were not said from racial point of view. Get a life and make use of your time by concentrating on the real matters affecting real people!Recommend

  • Ammar

    mqm jalsas were being bombed??? which world u were living..??? i think u got confuse with the voiceRecommend

  • Ahmar

    This isn’t the first time he’s shown his racist tendencies. Imran Khan often refers to Pakistanis with a western culture “Brown Sahibs”.

    He has always ‘judged people by the color of their skin, and not the conscience of their character.’Recommend

  • Anon

    This could possibly be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read on here… not quite sure though!

    What Imran Khan did was a pretty stupid thing to do, but this kind of analysis is just outrageous. He’s racist because he used the term “Afreeka se le aae hein”.

    While these statements absolutely should NOT have been made by a public figure, it’s hardly an evil, racist mind that could have come up with that statement. He was referring to the fact that a lot of substitute players on the list floating around before the final were Zimbabwean. Hardly a powerhouse of cricket… like most other African countries (yes yes, I know… South Africa, but lets be honest – no one thinks South Africa when talking about “Afreeka”!).

    His bias against Africa was obviously there. But that has little to do with race and more to do with the fact that Africa is a largely underdeveloped continent. When one refers to places you’d want to import things from, Africa does not top the list. It’s not a place people look forward to visiting on their holidays. It’s not a place one goes for higher education. So obviously, it creeps up in conversation when one refers to a backwater. Such usage should never turn up being attributed to a public figure of course!

    Let me repeat. It was a spectacularly stupid thing for any public figure to say. It was hurtful for the foreign players who came, and it was disrespectful to everyone who was involved with the PSL, and the entire country that had been so invested in it.
    But to suddenly decide that Imran Khan hates black people is a bit of a stretch that I think should be avoided. We really dont need to start throwing “racism” around at every corner. We have enough issues to deal with, lets not try to create more!

    Now if only Express Tribune would publish someone coherently disagreeing with something their author has said!Recommend

  • Anees Ahmad

    Correct, and I plan to do it again! Not because of the words he used, but I find him the best in the lot!Recommend

  • S Hashmi

    This is sheer hypocrisy. A man who has and is doing so much for Pakistan utters a word that some people use to bash him, calling him racist, etc. This man instructed the staff at the inauguration of the first SKMH never to ask anyone about their background. Whoever enters the doors of the hospital is a human being. On the other side of the coin, we keep mum at the lies, deceit and actions of those who have been and are plundering the country. No wonder we’re in this sorry state of affairs.Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    And we are proud of it!Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    Imran Khan does NOT need your vote. You are an insignificant minority. You should pity yourself. Imran Khan is a legend and he will remain a legend forever. Express Tribute should not publish such trashy articles.Recommend

  • Sami

    You forgot to mention that Imran Khan is the writer of the Book ” The Warrior Race”. It is the most racist book I have ever read from some Pakistani. It was written on the pattern of Nazi ideologies. It is pertaining to one Superior race that is above all other races of Pakistan. He have written that book in the early 90s.
    He mentioned in that book that some races have Warrior traits and some races are not warriors . Imran Khan indirectly mocked non Pukhtoons in his book. This book was too full of himself. He was referring to his race as the Most Superior race of Asia.

    So what do you expect from the writer of such racist book. If someone do not believe me then go and search for one copy of this book on Amazon.

    Here is the link of that book.

  • Ahmed Hayat

    Lets look at it objectively, a purely semantic point of view, Africa does qualify as being foreign for Pakistan but in Imran Khan’s colonised mind only the white overlord would qualify as foreign. Ironically the only player from Africa was Sean Ervine from Zimbabwe, who is white. A man who once gave hope to Pakistan- a hope of true change as loved to shove it down peoples throat “Tabdeeli”. A man who touts his Oxford experience yet could not change.

    This idea that It was a private conversation and that it “haven’t we used words like this” is a the same argument as “Locker Room talk” – the problem with that is not only don’t two wrongs make a right but also that Imran Khan aspires to be the Primeminster to Pakistan. Represent us at the world stage and must be held to the highest standards.

    Mr.Khan also lacks the maturity required to hold the highest public office in Pakistan. If you had any doubt that Mr. Khan is not the equivalent of Donald Trump in Pakistan – well I have some really bad news.Recommend

  • Democracy

    This is being taken way too seriously! In effect what he said is not untrue in fact, I think the issue is the manner of message delivery. Imran is essentially saying mercenary players be they from Bangladesh, West Indies etc are available and they make a risk/benefit judgement based on personal experiences and payment. They are not in any way providing an altruistic benefit for the fans of Pakistani cricket. One would surmise that the payment being to Petersen et al was insufficient to tip them toward making the decision to visit Pakistan.Recommend

  • Azeem Anjum

    IK fight always against racism, its your mentality who describe him racist.Recommend

  • Humza

    A very accurate description of the malaise affecting Imran Khan. I too supported him and the PTI in past elections but since then Imran Khan never ceases to amaze with his blunders. It shows someone can be a great sportsman, a great philanthropist but still have horrible character flaws. He really goofed up when he wanted to derail the PSL finals when the nation wanted to show the world it would not be blackmailed by a few criminal cowards on the payroll of foreign agencies. He never cares about the damage he is doing to the country in his singular greed for power at all costs. For this reason he is turning off many of his former supporters.Recommend

  • jenny_brn

    Never in my 71 years have I seen a man fall so far from his perch.
    The Twitterati crowd never used common sense when choosing their hero. I wonder what they feel now?Recommend

  • Shareefu Slave Nation

    The country is going down the toilet bcoz of the pateccher u guys have put power and u r worried about cricket..Recommend

  • ab

    I will stand in the line again for hours.Recommend

  • ab

    KP release the video that IK has nothing to do with him going back. secondly he answered about it why he said so.Recommend

  • Kamran Khan

    the writer seems baised against IK…where Ik showed Racisim ??Recommend

  • king0333

    Imran khan is Donald Trump of Pakistan, and his followers are the “deplorables” who will defend their master no matter what. By the way same goes to Nawaz Sharif followers . For once stop following leaders blindlyRecommend

  • king0333

    IK is like a Gora. Gora loves to help third world’s poor people to feel good about himself. Same goes to Imran Khan.Recommend

  • king0333

    in other words, it is okay to be racist in the pvt ?Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Does Phateechar mean the same as Miskeen?Recommend

  • king0333

    authority ? are u serious ? did imran khan invent the cricket ? phateecher kalay player were so much ahead of this phateecher khan in 80’sRecommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    “what IK has given to this nation”. What exactly has he given to the nation? Lies, false accusations, 35 punctures???? He is worse than Donald Trump!Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    He said “Africa” because he thinks West Indies is in Africa! That’s what he learnt in his “phateecher” school!Recommend

  • saleem

    The real Phatechar is Imran khanRecommend

  • JB

    Its amazing that our media and nation is ready to criticize IK over his comments but forgets the millions and billions stole by the ruling government. Priorities???Recommend

  • Saeed Hassan

    I just don’t understand that when it comes to our national pride and prestige, people and PML(N) Govt. just become speechless…. India and Afghanistan openly insulted Pakistan in past few months and they did not even bother…. This PSL final was a political stunt for sure and now bashing of IK is also political…. The problem with IK is that he can’t resist cheating and dishonesty and gives his natural reaction…. he is not trained to practice backbiting…. Were these players with the exception of Sammy would have been chosen if PCB had other options? how many of them are in IPL??? or even at the starting list??? why Gladiators lost so miserably??? …. if i am hungry, then it does not mean i should start licking garbage plates … The good players even did not say GOODBYE…. Raise your level people… And please stop giving lectures of morality… Nawaz Sharif & Co have already set very high standards….Recommend

  • Anon

    Hahahaha… you think the term brown sahibs is a racist slur?!

    No wonder people are making such a fuss…. basically everyone is clueless to what racism actually is. It’s a term theyve heard in American shows and want to use in their own lives as well!Recommend

  • Anon

    Yes… what a terrible trait to have! Feeling good by helping poor people… so evil.

    I know, let’s beat him at his game by closing down his hospitals and college. That’ll show these racist goras!Recommend

  • Anon

    The comments I’m seeing are all saying IK was wrong, but they will vote for him for other reasons.

    How is that blind following? Unless you think voting for someone is to blindly follow him?Recommend

  • Komal S

    Well IK was never a politically correct guy. He has lot of pride and does not like to celebrate mediocrity. He treats all Indian cricketers with disdain except Gavaskar. He was against IPL and i guess he is against PSL, so he is at least consistent.Recommend

  • Silver Black

    Well said. I am no fan of IK in any capacity, however one statement alone, which is also being blown out of proportion, in noway qualifies as a valid reason to project such allegations and critique at Imran.Recommend

  • Nana

    You mean to say he is best among phateecharsRecommend

  • Kasturi K

    I pity the blind followers of IK who are defending him after his derogatory remarks about the guests of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    Imran Khan is not racist or prejudiced in any way. He is a leader of men, beloved of women and an altruist, a generous philanthropist. Recommend

  • Umar Farooq

    “From a purely semantic point of view, Africa does qualify as being foreign for Pakistan but in Imran’s colonised mind only the white overlord would qualify as foreign. Ironically the only player from Africa was Sean Ervine from Zimbabwe, who is white.”

    This sums it up. Imran is not a racist. By African he may also mean that the level of players was not up to the mark.Recommend

  • Hasan

    Reason – Living in a phateechar country, run by phateechar politicians, part of a whole phateechar system.Recommend

  • Muhammad Abdullah

    Are you really that naive? 3 Cancel hospitals, one university, a world cup, political awareness and hope to the youth, and now fighting corruption alone. Recommend

  • Moe_Syzlack

    Well said. Some people remain in their cocoon as the world passes them by. Zimbabwe and South Africa are, well, in Africa but most of their players are white. If Imran doesn’t know this please don’t get him anywhere near the presidency. He belongs to yester year.Recommend

  • Talha

    taimoor bhai, come on, you have became slave of your thoughts and wanted that no one ever to speak for truth. please accept the point of view of other person and show maturity as a humble leader. Ik is a legend but he can retain that place with acumen and understanding.

    Kids starts speaking in two years but it take lifetime to know what, when and how to say. lets learn and make a difference

    tribune is a platform for expression and active voice , let it be running in the same way.Recommend

  • Talha

    IK is fantastic man throughout his life, but currently he has been depressed due to lots of political turmoils. let him learn from the factors around him including, media, journalist, bloggers, and last but the least the judiciary and the lawyers.

    In fact Ik has always lived like a prince and care free person where as the 3rd world politics is like a poor man life and living. it needs voice, support and courtesy to bring people behind you. he should gain likeliness for himself rather then developing a crowed from the hatred of opponents.

    IK can still be lethal in actions if develop good team players rather then growing with absolute failures of the recent past.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    why is ET still publishing his illogical blogs?Recommend

  • atShehzad

    No.1 It wasn’t a press conference.
    No.2 He doesn’t mean Darren Sami is phateechar. must have common sense.Recommend

  • Haashim Saeed

    Everybody with a mind knows that he was not referring to Darren Sammy or Chris Jordan or Dawid Malan. He was referring to Rayad Emrit, and the other Quetta foreign ‘international stars’. Why is everybody singling out Darren Sammy? He is right in the fact that Rayad Emrit is not on the same level as Kevin Pietersen so why is PCB trying to say, look, we had foreign playersRecommend