The only tabdeeli Imran Khan is successful in bringing is to tabdeel himself into yet another untrustworthy disappointment we call a politician

Published: November 19, 2017

When Imran finally had something to say, it was to support Gandapur, and call Kundi a “dissident”, declaring that he would be fired.

I can clearly remember the 2013 election – it was my first time voting and I was going to vote for a ‘naya Pakistan’. As a naïve 18-year-old who was generally unfamiliar with politics, I was swept away by the idea of changing the country, the idea of progressing, and Imran Khan’s chants of “tabdeeli aa nahi rahi, tabdeeli agayi hai” (Change is not coming, change is here) served as fodder for my adolescent idealism.  

Yes, I voted for Imran and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that day, and yes, I regret it today.

Months later, when the focus was still on the sit-ins and the rigging, I convinced myself that he was a man demanding justice from a flawed system. Then he got married in the wake of the Peshawar attack on the Army Public School (APS) – the attack shook the nation and brought us all to a standstill, and even though I felt this move was quite insensitive given his role as a political leader, it was his personal matter and I moved on.

Such instances piled up over the years, and it became clear that the party itself was quite immature; it needed a significant amount of time to grow and learn how to function. Imran’s behaviour didn’t help either – his racist comments and decisions to welcome all the politicians he previously bashed into his party, all played a role in me distancing myself from the party, until I was no longer a supporter. There’s only so much one can justify, after all.

However, perhaps deep inside my heart, I had still kept some hope alive. Hope for some tabdeeli. Hope that by some miracle, PTI would pull its act together and we might still get some version of a ‘naya Pakistan’. The naïve idealist was still alive inside me somewhere, veiled behind the toxic fumes exhaled by the real world. That idealist would turn left and see the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) fumbling and flailing, turn right and see the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and decide that perhaps, come next election, she might just end up voting for PTI again. The lesser of all evils, and all that jazz.

Well, not anymore. The naïve idealist is dead, and in her place is yet another angry Pakistani.

Most people are by now familiar with the shameful incident that happened in Dera Ismail Khan last month. A 16-year-old girl was stripped and paraded naked on the streets for an hour, and instead of helping her, spectators were filming the whole incident. It has been weeks and no justice has been served yet – the main accused still walks free. A week ago, PTI MNA Dawar Khan Kundi accused PTI Minister Ali Amin Gandapur of shielding and providing “logistical support” to the perpetrators. Kundi claimed that he had personally investigated the matter and upon finding Gandapur involved and responsible, called for his removal.

In the midst of this developing story, I remained hopeful that Imran would step up. My opinion on his political acumen (or lack thereof) aside, I had for some reason believed Imran when he claimed to be different from all the other politicians. Asif Zardari was corrupt, Nawaz Sharif was corrupt, almost everyone was a liar – between such a great pick of leaders, Imran seemed as appealing as water for a person dying of thirst. I expected him to tweet about this matter, or at least release a statement, addressing the gravity of the situation, assuring that he would ensure that justice is served, that he would do the right thing.

A day passed, then another. It grew into a week of radio silence on this matter, while he tweeted about literally everything else.

Until yesterday, when Imran finally spoke up, and I immediately wished he hadn’t. For when Imran finally had something to say, it was to support Gandapur, and call Kundi a “dissident”, declaring that he would be fired. His supporters called Kundi ‘another Ayesha Gulalai’.

To say that I was shocked and disappointed with Imran’s stance would be an understatement. He did not address the young girl who is being denied justice – adding yet another dent to PTI and Imran’s poor track record on women’s issues. Imran has repeatedly rejected and opposed bills pertaining to women’s rights, and even opposed reserved seats for women in assemblies, and this instance offers further proof that when it comes to women’s issues, Imran has always been noticeably silent.

Instead, his wrath was directed towards Kundi. All of a sudden it was revealed that Kundi is an estranged member of the party, that he is a liar, that he doesn’t even attend party meetings anymore. To top it all, he mentioned that he spoke to the respective Inspector General (IG) and was assured that there is no pressure on him from anyone. I’m sure powerful men like Gandapur didn’t pressure the IG into delivering such assurances. If there is no pressure, then why is the main accused still a free man? Who is protecting him?

After all, this is not the first time Gandapur would have landed himself in hot water – he was earlier arrested for forcibly taking ballot boxes and booked for possession of liquor and arms. Imran has, as always, remained silent on those fronts too.

Either Imran is lying to the nation, or he truly is as immature and naïve as he seems.

Imagine if this incident had taken place in PML-N or PPP’s jurisdiction, or if a member of their party had accused another. Wouldn’t Imran be up in arms about this? Wouldn’t he make this a huge political issue? Then why is his moral awakening only limited to jurisdictions and parties that are not his own? Kundi has suggested that Gandapur has ties to banned extremist groups that Imran is afraid of angering (or alienating), which is why he is not acting against him. I don’t know how true this is, and I honestly don’t care, because Imran has today become exactly what he once claimed he wouldn’t be – exactly like the rest.

Duplicity, cowardliness, and lies – I would have expected this of Nawaz, or Zardari, as growing up we were told to not expect much from our politicians. Imran, with his clean record and his demands for justice (the rigging that haunts us to date), made me expect more of our politicians, made me expect better. A part of me was confident Imran would be that person. I will admit today that I was wrong.

His former wife, Reham Khan, recently appeared on a prominent news show to express her disappointment over Imran’s response to this entire incident. Reham, who has personally visited the young girl and promised to bring her justice, is now being attacked and slut-shamed on social media by PTI supporters for being yet another “traitor”.

I’m sure Imran has his reasons for taking the stand that he did – after all, politics is a game and he is still struggling to play. However, leadership is how you judge who you vote for. When I felt that Imran was a good leader, I could somehow excuse the political immaturity of his party. But if the PTI doesn’t even have a good leader anymore, then what does it really have? What makes their incompetence different from the rest?

After witnessing Imran do something I have seen countless times in Pakistan’s colourful political history, it is now high time that he at least stop pretending to be better than all the other “politicians” out there – he is now one of them. Apparently, the only tabdeeli Imran was successful in bringing was to tabdeel himself into yet another untrustworthy disappointment we get to call a politician.

If this is what Imran’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ would entail, I think I’ll stick to living in the Pakistan of old. At least here I know not to expect better.

Iqra Khan

Iqra Khan

The writer is a political science graduate from LUMS.

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

  • umar

    Imran Khan needs to turn to the “left” rather than drifting to the “extreme Right” as seems to be the case now. His views on institutional building is what Pakistan needs and his charity work is admirable. However, unfortunately he has become a typical narrow minded conservative who slings mud on anyone with moderate views. Pakistan desperately needs a liberal answer to Imran Khan who is morally upright and take the country forward. If Imran khan comes to power, he might install some good people at the helm but will encourage further radicalization.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    iQRA KHAN a 22 years old studying or studied from LUMS lahore, the university is a fabulus place to be, regardless of the age when a person say a 35 years old man or women decides to re-start their studies say complete their masters, they are prepared to open their minds and the courage is provided by the environment of university to say whatever they want to say and fortunate thing is THEY SAY :) i love university environment, creativity , open mindedness, no holding back, always looking for positiveness in EVERYTHING … now IQRA how u said clearly shows u r a student or recent graduate who is speaking her mind out, weldone :) however, sister what u said is not how a student talks a student is always looking for a way back into the game :) they NEVER GIVE UP they NEVER LOSE HOPE , THEY NEVER GIVES IN
    U should not defend imran khan if u think he is wrong, i say no one should never no no no no sir we are not their servants we r free independent humans we like doing what we want, we are free to choose, Allah made us humans and we are who we are there are evils in us there is bravery like u showed today and there diplomacy in all of us … however i wont go away from the topic i would just like u to know i support imran khan and i agree with ur statement “The lesser of all evils, and all that jazz” partially and i add to ur statement “ik hi se theek ho ga yeah pakistan inshaAllah ”
    i urge u to push him to do the right thing at the right time
    it was u who stopped cm khattak from building swiming pool in cm house (even though the intention was right the location was wrong)
    it was u who made cm khattak pay for petrol when he stopped over to attend a wedding in between his official commitments
    it was u iqra and it was us …. IK IS OUR HOPE AND SISTER WE DO NOT LET OUR HOPES SLIP AWAY…
    ik is not corrupt
    he is brave
    ik has what it takes to bring about change .. us the nation right behind him
    so how can we let our naya Pakistan dream slip away :)
    i leave u with a beautiful saying :)
    sister never ever stop writing u have what it takes and use it motivate urself and ur leader Imran khan.. if u r reading this IK … tum se hi ho ga theek yeah Pakistan only u can bring the change and we wont let u get corrupt we love u and we expect alot of u and we will not let u disappoint us inshaAllahRecommend

  • Saj

    Would you rather prefer othere parties then. Imrab has nkt been given a chance yrmet to govern and change the country and the mindset of stupid people of Pakistan. I would take a decade to change many things in Pakistan.
    Allow him and the time to do soRecommend

  • HassaanM

    Yellow journalism at its finest. ET’s standards have dipped drastically.Recommend

  • Umair Ahmad

    Salaam Iqra! Glad that you have got your freedom from IK’s cult politics….the earlier the better….I have no shame to admit that I used to be the same like you once, blindly following him and believing on his words that he will bring the promised Change. However, I clearly see now those slogans as so hollow & fake. After 10 years of my political struggle in PTI, many events & incidents unfolded his character as nothing but a hypocrite who will do anything & everything just to get to the slot of PM. He crushed the party ideology, constitution and good value system, once so loudly advocated by him and even now, under his own feet and I am a witness to all that which has opened my eyes, fortunately! If anything he deserves now, is an Oscar….for deceiving this poor nation through his charismatic personality & heroism……Welcome to Reality & Truth!…..He surely has created a wider trust deficit now to believe in a politician claiming to be honest, loyal & sincere to this nation. Highly unfortunate & sad story of PTI!!!Recommend

  • Tahir Iqbal

    Imran khan is a nonsense politician of the today…Recommend

  • Nana

    Yep, agree with you. It took him 20 years to learn the art of addressing a rally ( using abusive language,mimicking and ridiculing others) and it will take him another 20 years to learn the art of governance. He should stick to social work which he knows the best.
    As regard the Gandapur and the incident, I believe that Johnny walker honey is showing its effect … on WHOEVER(?) consumed it.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Things for free Nation Pakistan and Business on Other people Money mind set have in so Call self Imposed Leaders Charity Begin From Home IMRAN KHAN AND PARTY ONLY WIN any election when they spend money not only them but Poor nation too and Imran khan only do every thing for him self like a dictator not a team player so PTI will be never in power till Imran khan is imposed on partyRecommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Good writing.Recommend

  • M. S. Chaudhry

    Except in social media, Left has not place in real politics. Hippocratic and fake Right are in majority and for this majority, ruling Muslim League is the best choice. It’s the only party which accommodates honest, dishonest, Haji, Namazi, corrupt, smugglers and tax chore. Poor Khan did not do his home work before forming PTI and perhaps did not know the majority of people. Had he joined ruling PML in his prime and had worked to one of the top positions and revolted against Sharifs, then he could have achieved his dream till now.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    with all due respect. 8 culprits are already arrested by police. FIR Filled according to girl & family statements. the girl have already recorded her statement in court. if there was pressure then how come 7 accused where arrested even before dawar kundi allegations on 31 Oct Recommend

  • Faizan Khan

    Frankly speaking we do not have any other option other than Imran Khan. No harsh feelings but as you yourself is a LUMS graduate it shows clearly that you belong to a well off family. As my and most of Pakistani parents can not afford Lums tution fee and the rest of political parties apart from PTI every one is keen on destroying Pakistan. As a result almost every Pakistani youth is trying to leave Pakistan legally or illegally.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Agree with the substance of your write up…….Imran Khan needs to practice what he preaches.Recommend

  • RA

    If we want to get rid of corruption and establish some form of governance, then with all his faults Imran Khan is the only answer. I don’t think Pakistan can with stand the maturity of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari.Recommend

  • Talvarkhan

    I must add that we need more such opinions to come forward and tell it as it is. Most of the party workers are willing to look the other way in hope of gettig some party titles. On the other hand, majority of supporters are ill-informed about what horrible bad has happened inside the party to the principles of justice, humanity, and self respect. Just to give you a flavor; Imran Khan single handedly protected intra party election riggers, land-grabber Aleem Khan; Loan Mafia and Inside Trader Jahangir Tareen, by suspending the party’s chief arbitor Justice Wajihhudin. Imran Khan then issued show cause notices to the members of Party’s own internal Standing Committee on Accountability and Discipline when these members after months of independent investigation found Aleem Khan guilty of party’ s rules. Imran Khan also protected Naeemul Haq a known bank defaulter and a sexual predaror inside the party even when Ex- President of party’s Women Wing, late Zara Apa openly accused Naeemul Haq for sexual harrassment of several women members of the party in Sind. Imran Khan personally supported and protected CM KPK Pervez Khattak’ s involvement in mining scand along with Jahangir Tareen by clipping the authority of Director General Ehitasab Commission KPK, Hamid Khan when he was about to initiate an official inquiry against these two crooks. Before that Imran Khan actively protected the party’s fund looters despite the third party audit report clearly proved the crime; On this very issue, party’ s founding member, Akbar Sher Babar was let go when he dared to demand accountability. The lists goes on and on, and now the latest trend of inducting known crooks in the party as lotas and having sham party election have effectively burried the ideology of Tabdeeli…RIP!!!Recommend

  • Naveed Balouch

    Another self serving female trying to taint IK. He can’t take responsibility of everything and has promised to look into the matter. I saw the press conference by Gandapur and it seemed genuine and sincere. So here again, a young female is trying to promote her social media status through jumping on the `Reham Khan’ train. Please do not disparage IK by comparing him to NZ and AZ. You have no discernment and very little insight into these things. Recommend

  • Patwari

    Compared to Nawaz bin Salman bin Abdel Aziz bin Wahab bin Zia the Haq,
    The Four $Billion Dollar$ wala from Jati Umra, Maryam’s Abbu, Emperor Nawaz…
    The 26 Car Entourage Khan, Mr Jemima Goldsmith Khan, Office for the Terrorists Khan,
    UTurn Khan, Hamara Bhai Khan, Patheecher Khan, is still just a tad better choice. Why?
    Because there is no one else. None nada, zilch, nyet, na na, nope, nahine, nono….
    The Satrap of Punjab, Khadim e Ala, Back Door Deal with TTP wala Shahbaz has the same DNA as his brother. You can call him Mini Nawaz, or Munna wala Punjabi.
    Hamza, Maryam, Baby Bhutto are clones of their Abbas. Replicants.
    There is a choice though, you can rent Bill Clinton or Gordon Brown or Gorbachev,
    at about $10 million a year plus benefits, [free house, two free cars, free medical benefits
    in country of choice, two weeks vacation, clothing allowance, a chaprassi, a mali and
    two cooks, a driver, a maid and a massi.]Recommend

  • TZA

    His racist attitude was apparent during his captaincy days, when he wilfully discarded good cricketers from the city of lights. He is a racist, included all corrupt goons to the party and now nothing at all can be expected from him than protecting a criminal of his party. I totally agree with the writer.Recommend

  • umar

    Criticizing Imran KHan does not mean Pro PML-N. Pakistan needs a progressive party. Unfortunately parties like MQM and ANP who have progressive manifesto are engaged in Mafia like activities.Recommend

  • Nahid Hussain Chohan

    Great. May I be bold to ask which party are you now affiliated with and what your political ideology is. I am assuming you are now favouring another party and that too for their ideology.Recommend

  • Nahid Hussain Chohan

    Compared to whom?Recommend

  • Dur e Shehwar Shah

    This is accurately described, at least the political parties like PPP and PML-N have established something in their past and stood up for such matters. Great leaders like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto were sure the ones who brought change into this country, they were eligible for being a leader as well as Bilawal Bhutto is a true reflection of his Grandfather and mother. 2018 shall be the year for PPP. at-least we are sure of that they wont disregard women like this political party has one by one disregarded women. First, leader’s own wife and then nonetheless the female workers of the party and now this innocent girl who was stripped and paraded naked and yet concluded to no justice. This is not about any political platform but the absence of humanity from this man who world thought would bring in tabdeeli but instead made situation worse.Recommend

  • AN

    Brilliantly summarized by Iqra. One should check the realities instead of fantasizing the idealism. Imran Khan is just polluting the innocent minds. Khan’s motto is repeat the lies hundred times so that one accepts it as a truth. In long run it comes back and same will be faced by him & his party in next elections.Recommend

  • Abdul moiz

    I Can Clearly remember the 2013 election as well, except that i wasn’t as enthusiastic about change as you were Recommend

  • Naveed

    So as Patwari said, there is no other choice. Pti or no one.Recommend

  • Rashid

    Good piece of writing. You have truly depicted the exact feelings of many who passionately voted for Imran Khan & PTI in 2013 general election.

    No matter who your leader is or which party you vote for, we should think above all this when it comes to serious/ national issues. Unless we stop becoming ‘Jazbati’ & keep defending every wrongdoing of our party leaders, we cannot move forward. We need to be Pakistanis first, which unfortunately we are not.Recommend

  • Nana

    He didn’t join pml(n) in his prime but at the same time he didn’t forget to acquire few advantages in his favour from them. In his prime he was in very good terms with Nawaz sharif and got the land for SKMH. Then there were whispers of a letter in which he said that since he didn’t own a house, he should be granted a plot for his services.Recommend

  • Humza


  • sterry

    It’s not just Imran Khan but lots of native Pakistanis who say negative things about smaller, darker Muhajirs originally from India who live in Karachi. Why don’t you complain about the racist mindset of all native Pakistanis instead of picking on Imran Khan? You might have had an argument if you talked about his affair with Sita White,his daughter Tyrion White and the paternity case in the United States but now Tyrion lives with Imran’s ex wife Jemima Goldsmith and Tyrion has been accepted by her brothers as a sibling. Imran Khan may be a hypocrite but who isn’t in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Manzoor Ahmed

    How many times has Imran Khan become prime minister? Totally horrible Iqra Khan and the more ignorant educated lot that agree with you. You don’t deserve leaders and you prefer people who will drag this country to the dogs.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Compared to the Brothers Dar and Safdar Travelling Circus,
    of the Punjabis, by the Punjabis, for the Punjabis.Recommend