For how long will you keep defending Imran Khan, Hamza Ali Abbasi?

Published: March 10, 2017

Currently, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan, or rather the demigod for the impressionable PTI fans, is under fire for uttering phatheechar” comments about foreign players. I personally think that his comments were made in extremely bad taste and reflected on Imran’s inability to show bigheartedness. If Pakistan had been unable to host the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final, then I am a 100% sure Imran would have called it a complete failure on the government’s part, despite previously calling the entire idea “madness”.

Once the government showed its resolve and successfully hosted the event, Imran then started to belittle the efforts put in by the organisers and disrespected the players who opted to come and play in Lahore despite present dangers and warnings. If anything, Imran’s behaviour and statements reek of pettiness.

Given the context of the security situation, this was a successful endeavour which brought joy to millions of Pakistanis. Yes, one is right to say that the real achievement would be when foreign teams can fearlessly come and play and stadiums are filled with people once again, but given the fact that the security situation in the country cannot improve overnight, we did our best and it was a success. Showing resolve in the face of an obvious threat is something which needs to be lauded not belittled. One should rise above petty political partisanship and help the government, which unfortunately seems difficult for the PTI chief and also for his impressionable fans who showed the same kind of pettiness when they chanted “Go Nawaz Go” during Najam Sethi’s speech at the Qaddafi stadium.

In my opinion, the media is fully justified in criticising Imran on his reprehensible statement. Of course, if one is a PTI supporter, one would call it a “needless” controversy and an effort by the “biased” media to deflect attention from “real” issues such as Panama Leaks. In fact, anything which is critical of Imran is often interpreted as some sort of a “conspiracy” to malign the great man’s image and a tactic to divert people’s focus to “trivial” issues.

As expected, the PTI troll brigade is busy defending their leader’s latest bout of stupidity and are as usual defending which is not defensible. But then again, trolls are trolls, and they don’t have anything better to do. I was not expecting major celebrities/public figures like Hamza Ali Abbasi to join the party and come up with an apologetic defence for their “leader”.

I know Mr Abbasi likes making videos and this is not the first time he has gone in front of the camera to defend PTI. He likes to speak his mind, and at times (only at times) he makes sense also. However, his latest video defending his leader was extremely lame and farcical.

Mr Abbasi used the same age-old technique of “other issues are much more important” to come up with an apologetic defence. I can easily retort by saying that the Panama case is also not that important to be given so much attention by PTI. As Pakistan is fighting its existential war, PTI’s entire thrust is focused on proving Nawaz Sharif to be corrupt and the Panama case, so much so that everything else has taken a backseat for almost a year now. In fact, they are so obsessed that every time there is a bomb blast, they start terming it as a conspiracy to deflect attention from the Panama case.

In Abbasi’s torturous video, the only thing entertaining was his laughable claim that he is totally “neutral” as he is no longer an office bearer of PTI. His anger and passion in that video was completely contradicting his claim of neutrality. At one point, I was thought he would actually break down and start crying!

Mr Abbasi also claimed that Imran’s statement was made in a completely private and exclusive setting which frankly is not correct as it was not “drawing room” talk but addressed to a delegation. Yes, it was perhaps off-camera but one cannot dismiss it as a mere “private” chat.

Likewise, Mr Abbasi also referred to Imran’s Shaukat Khanum hospital, which again is an age-old tactic of PTI to deflect criticism on Imran’s political blunders. What Mr Abbasi should remember is that at the moment, Imran is under criticism not for his philanthropy but for his political stance. I fully admit that he is a great philanthropist and easily the greatest cricketer to have emerged from Pakistan, and I highly respect his achievements in those fields. However, his politics must be judged separately from his philanthropic and cricketing achievements. Trying to conflate his politics with other spheres of his life, with the purpose of deflecting criticism on the former, is not the right approach.

As a public figure, Mr Abbasi needs to realise that everything that he says and does can be held against him. He has certain responsibilities as a celebrity which cannot be neglected or taken for granted all for the sake of party politics and his demigod leader.

It’s time for PTI and its leader to indulge in some self-reflection and try to improve their political tactics. Sadly, they constantly appear as an immature, victimised group who is desperate (and not ready) to come to power.


Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (

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

  • M. S. Chaudhry

    Imran is not a greatest cricketer of Pakistan nor he is a greatest captain. Waseem Akram is undoubtedly Pakistan’s greatest cricketer and Misbah is a greatest captain. Imagine Misbah leading Waseem, Javed Miandad, Waqar, Sohail, Saeed, Inzi and others.Recommend

  • Neelum

    Raza, Mr. Hamza is certainly not defending Mr. Imran here. He is just trying to open your eyes so you can understand what really matters with Pakistani awam. Pakistanies get sentimental on a little casual comment of Mr. Imran, but tend to ignore MAJOR clematises that are happening around them. Thats is all what Mr. Hamza message is about. Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Ideological activism is similar to religious extremism.

    Rationale and facts are meaningless, because a follower of an ideology has his own set of facts to preach and pray to.Recommend

  • farhan

    I totally agree with the writer and hamza ali abbasi claiming to be the neutral person, is the biggest joke of the year. grow up hamza we the peolpe aren’t fool.Recommend

  • AdnanKhq

    And for how long people like you would keep on ignoring the horrors n and ppp have been putting the nation through, be it corruption, terrorism, inflation…

    And yeah i know its more hipster to write something against IK(that most of the times doesn’t have to do anything to the state we are in today) and be in limelight then write against those who absolutely looted/destroyed this country to shreds and are still doing it!Recommend

  • AdnanKhq

    I just went through your articles archive and boy you absolutely hate IK, on every page i browsed i dont see anything but hatred for khan, and thats okay actually, you know he is the sole reason we are in such state today!Recommend

  • S Hashmi

    Dear Author, the recent events (scuffle in NA and press conference by Jawed Latif) have overshadowed the “phateechar” saga. Please give your comments in this recent saga – before some other event overshadows it.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Fully agree with you and I liked the way you argued your case.
    Imran khan and PTI leaders must understand ( I’ve said this before ) that…..a smart person knows what to say, a wise person knows whether or not to say it.
    The strong perception developing, thanks mostly to the Khan himself, is that he is neither smart nor wise….and that’s a real shame.Recommend

  • Yawar

    Dear author it is like you people that we are facing curenr rulers and governemnt.for you Panama is not an issue but war is important but you are forgetting that billion of Rupees are being embezzled on the name of war and no one is dare to answer to anyone is for the first time that rulers are asked to show their account trails ….and why are we paying taxes from buying Needle to buying a ticket of Aeroplane ..if that taxes have ultimately have to land in the pockets where they would be channelized to offshore accounts ….why is that Masters is requirement for job for example you have to be Graduate or Master for becoming a teacher but you can become a education minister without having to pass 8th Class …why there is requirement of degree for any other job but you can become MNA or MPA even a minister without having a degree ? Why rulers go to foreign countries even for a routine checkup but do not prefer Pakistani hospitals .why People come here to just rule people like you and me but when their Tenure is over they Fly to Dubai , England and prefer to live there not in Pakistan where they have ruled for decades .We have to think Big over the Horizon of someone is doing a great job of accountability then let him do it not to criticize him that’s the favor we can do at least if not practically do anything ..try to visualize why Imran is demanding accountability of rulers because he wants us to live in a country where Merit could prevail .
    Cricket or calling ” Phaticher” is not an issue so why there is hue and cry ?Recommend

  • Usman Marwat

    Dear Hamza Ali Abbasi Pakistanis are never ignoring issues you highlighted. I think we all supporting him for the same cause. We are with him, But he need to have some self reflection as well. Talking to media and rendering as private conversation is not justified. We think Imran khan is a great leader and a blessing for Pakistan but he need to learn to realize his mistakes and learn from it.Recommend

  • ab

    What’s wrong he is saying??Recommend

  • The Analyser

    Your education does not make you intelligent either. Recommend

  • Syed Umar

    A narrator who himself is a biased person trying to explain what is what and who is who without any logical reasoning to the topic in question, seems very immature.
    He should first set his priorities straight by knowing what is right and what is wrong, what is ACTUALLY important and what isn’t . A person who doesn’t even know what’s destroying his country is NOT qualified enough to have a say in this matter.
    And one more thing for argument sake.. Tell me, if your army’s whole budget is 8 billion, and money laundering happening in Pakistan is 10 billion. Then tell me.
    Is it ” not that important ” Now mister Raza Habib raja??
    Does the money for whole defense infrastructure of Pakistan ” NOT THAT IMPORTANT ” too?

    Well kiddo, just because you say something in good English doesn’t make it a fact.

  • Syed Umar

    Good point Recommend

  • Syed Umar

    Sweetheart, it’s not ”WE” the people here. It’s only YOU.
    People are much smarter now.
    They can think for themselves. Recommend

  • Ahmar

    When Panama issue was going on, these PTI supporters don’t care about Kashmir, terrorism or anything else. Now they want people to stop talking about Imran Phateecher Khan’s “Private conversation” huh?

    If a similar video of Nawaz Sharif had surfaced, Imran Phateecher would be marching for dharna-part 3 right now. Recommend

  • only truth is nature

    Mr Abbasi Should remain Afzal Bhai not Socrates,which he is not.Recommend

  • hore choopo

    Had Imran not joined politics,he would have been a hero. Now he is a villain,who dont know cricket,and whose hospital is a fraud and he is still a play boy.How biased is our outlook.Recommend

  • hore choopo

    Misbah won matches in Dubai,while Imran won in Australia,Newzealand and England.Wasim is the greatest bowler not the greatest leader/captain.I disagree with Imran on his political stances,not on his captaincy or philanthropy.I wish we become unbiased nation one day.Recommend

  • hore choopo

    If Imran khan starts saying what the people want to hear,then what would be the difference between him and typical chalak politicians?Good luck Hamza Abbasi.Recommend