Imran Khan is and always will be the common man’s saviour and Pakistan’s happily ever after
As a nation, we Pakistanis are a romantic people. From our folklore to our cultural beliefs; from our personal relationships to our politics, we love a sentimental tale of love, strife and bravery. It is only fitting then, that our choice of leaders should follow suit. The love affair of the Bhuttos is example enough – from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s fiery charisma, to his daughter’s legend, we have proven an unwavering support of the lone warrior fighting for the greater good.
As one light fades, another begins to flicker – Imran Khan charges into the arena, ready to slay all wrong-doers and battling for the greater good. Or so it seems. With the well-deserved skepticism borne of decades of disappointment, we wonder if this is the real deal.
Imran is a charismatic man; one who won us the World Cup, who we’ve grown up seeing on TV, who gave us the world-renowned Shaukat Khanum hospital, and is making considerably impressive ripples in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (K-P) and seems to be honorable. Albeit, he has terrible luck with women but nobody’s perfect.
Is it too good to be true?
While it is unarguable that the performance of K-P’s police has been commendable, healthcare has improved and educational reforms are fantastic (the ZamangKor initiative is something I came across on Twitter and it is extraordinary), there are those that believe that Imran’s political idealism will be his ultimate hindrance in forming government. There were those, also, who believed him to be an extremist apologist, but he mitigated that notion with his sensitive and unequivocal handling of Mashal Khan’s brutal murder.
Personally, I reserve judgment. Stranger things and stranger people have led our country. What I do believe, however, is that Imran has done an incredible service to Pakistan by simply being the opposition. What should have been a democratic right appears to be a service because we have for so long been infested by swarms of locusts only wanting to pass on the bounty. Unfortunately, the bounty happens to be us; our assets, our sweat and our tears.
For me, whether he becomes prime minister is immaterial because power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It may prove he is like all the others he condemns, or he may not. But by making the political establishment accountable, and seeming to allow no compromise on core issues, and making no back deal allies, he has done what no leader has in a long time – he has made his voice resonate through the country.
All is not ideal though, there seems to be disorganisation within the party ranks. There is a reputation for stubbornness and a tendency to only listen to the sound of his own voice. Sometimes, the speechmaking is over-much and repetitive, and he tends to trip on his own words. But regardless of whether the oratory makes sense to you, there are masses who come; who stand in the heat and wait for him to speak. While that is not necessarily a measure of political strength, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) machinery does not yet appear to be well-oiled enough like the other parties as to amass staged supporters instantaneously.
So he comes, the common man, to hear Imran speak. Somehow, it makes sense to him; whether he is Sindhi or Pakhtun, immigrant or son of the soil, the language he speaks, this man hears.
In the anti-climax of the Panama scandal, Imran has savvily, for a change, vitalised public support by a fierce momentum of jalsas. Remarkably successful, he seems to finally be giving his attention to areas like Sindh, which were previously overlooked. He has shown incredible perseverance and doggedness in the face of constant repudiation.
At the risk of sounding severely naive, he has inspired the magic dust of hope in many anxious hearts, perhaps mine included. After eons, here comes someone who doesn’t seem to ask for much, but promises everything. By standing up and pointing fingers, naming and shaming, he stands up to all the bullies no one ever fought simultaneously. Physically able, internationally educated, he cuts an impressive figure to commandeer the youth.
Pakistan has seen her fair share of experienced and weathered politicians; she has been raped by democratic leaders, pillaged by dictators and corrupted by religious clerics. It will not be unreasonable, perhaps, for our motherland to give this quixotic suitor a chance. After the Dark Ages, it is only fair that Pakistanis get their happy ending; whether Imran is our happily ever after remains to be seen, but what has become exceedingly clear is that he is all that is protecting us from the dark forces of corruption.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.