Is Imran Khan the Donald Trump of Pakistan?

Published: July 24, 2018

Both Trump and Imran are rich celebrity personalities who felt their presence was needed in the political sphere

If you were to look back and think of one of the most unbelievable decisions made in the past five years, Donald Trump getting elected as President of the United States would perhaps top the list. Just imagining the “strongest” democracy in the world actually handing over its reigns to the man without a plan makes you feel a little bit better about the state of your own democracy. You think, maybe America is worse than us, for what sane mind would ever vote Trump into power? 

Well, all this thinking made us wonder, who is Trump’s equivalent in our own political sphere? Though perhaps many of our politicians are eligible for this comparison, recent events bring only one person in mind – our very own “King Khan” (or if Reham Khan’s allegations are to be believed, perhaps Kink Khan is more apt?)

shy GIF

Now, before we are immediately bashed in the comments, we’d like to explain why we’re making such a heavy comparison when it comes to the sadiq and ameen (honest and truthful) politician. Leadership comparisons will of course be flawed – after all, Trump is the leader of the free world, and Imran Khan isn’t even the elected leader of our own country (yet).

No, the following comparison is simply based on how two leaders play the game of politics, the extent they are ready to go to in their pandering, and how ardently their supporters are willing to believe every word that comes out of their leader’s mouth.

1. Rich celebrities make their way into politics

At the baseline, both Trump and Imran are rich celebrity personalities who felt their presence was needed in the political sphere. Giving Imran some credit here, his athletic achievements have always been more remarkable, as we’re not quite sure what (if anything) Trump has ever achieved.

2. Make Pakistan great again

Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” resonated with white folks who felt eight years under Barack Obama had somehow ruined the country in a way that only a politically inexperienced reality celebrity could fix. Similarly, Imran’s Naya Pakistan reached out to the youth disenfranchised by the Pakistan of old. The attainability of each slogan aside, one can’t deny they are semantically similar and work the same way to simply gain devoted followers who will throw the slogan back at you every chance they get.

good the simpsons GIF

3. Pandering to the right

Both Trump and Imran have been pledged support by the extreme right of both countries. While Trump has often had a kind word or two to say about literal Nazis in America, Imran has said the same but for their equivalent in Pakistan – the religious right-wing. Despite counting on liberals to vote for him, Imran has verbally insulted the group repeatedly (khooni liberal scums, anyone?) in favour of praising and joining hands with right-wing groups, especially during his election campaign. After all, he didn’t earn the name Taliban Khan for nothing.

You can’t blame Imran, just as you can’t blame Trump; after all, both men have simply done whatever it takes to win. Yes, a lot of PTI supporters argue Imran is doing whatever it takes to garner votes and that once he comes into power, he will go back to his “Naya Pakistan” self. But dialling back a little into history reveals that people who voted for Trump did not think he would follow through on the problematic promises. However, immigrant families separated on American soil would perhaps tell them otherwise.

regret GIF

4. Racist inclinations

Even though Trump is the “least racist person you’ll ever meet”, he’s quite overtly racist. And Imran has, on multiple occasions, proved that so is he.

Anyone remember the last Pakistan Super League? Cricket had finally come home and everyone was celebrating the victory, as Pakistanis should – except Imran. In a press conference, he addressed the international players who came to Pakistan as phateechar. He also said,

“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.”

Let. That. Sink. In.

Does Imran identify with the colonisers more than the colonised? After all, he saw the colour of their skin and his instinct was – if it ain’t white, it ain’t right!

gossiping stan marsh GIF by South Park

5. Sexism comes naturally to both

No one needs to elaborate on why Trump is sexist; the proof is well documented for the world to see. But is Imran a more subtle form of sexist?

Like most men in Pakistan, Imran’s hate for feminism blooms in an already misogynist society. Recently, in an interview, he suggested he hates feminism for degrading the role of motherhood. Now, this could easily be brushed off saying this is just his ignorance on issues pertaining to women. But a well-educated and “woke” individual like him should know better.

Moreover, opposing the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill is not ignorance.

sexist laci green GIF

Whether he chose to do this to please the right-wingers or he really does not care about women’s rights, we’re not sure – all we know is, at the end of the day, he threw every Pakistani woman under the bus.

6. The choice of language

Something that made Trump fun to watch (in a horrifying way) during his election campaign was his language. “Lyin Ted”, “Crooked Hillary”; you have to admit, the man had a knack for calling people names.

Similarly, Imran took our elections to the next level with his “colourful” choice of words, including insulting supporters of a particular party directly. From calling Karachiites zinda laashain (living corpses) to calling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters “ghadday” (donkeys), Imran has insulted his way to the top.

schitts creek no GIF by CBC

7. Biggest rallies ever

It’s hard to forget Trump’s inauguration speech, where people quickly noticed that the crowd size was too thin compared to what it was under President Obama. His team quickly responded to clarify that it was indeed the biggest crowd anyone had ever seen. While the only proof the world needed to verify those claims was eyes, something similar has been happening of late at PTI rallies.

Social media has been rife with pictures suggesting PTI rallies have been alarmingly vacant as of late, while supporters are quick to dispute the visuals being shared on social media.

Empty GIF

8. Hero worship

It is easy for us to see how problematic Trump is because we aren’t his followers; we would never vote for him. But when you ask Trumpers who put their trust and faith in this man, they would probably say he is the best thing to happen to America.

Similarly, for better or for worse, one thing that can be said about PTI supporters is that they are quite adamant when it comes to their side, and will subtweet you for all eternity to try and justify the latest faux pas of their beloved leader.

montage facepalm GIF

9. Controversial tell-alls

Trump had Fire and Fury revealing just how insane the White House was under Trump, and we had Reham Khan detailing just how strange some of Imran’s inclinations are. Both books raised huge question marks regarding their own credibility, but while we take all claims with a grain of salt, there is no doubt both controversies provided a lot of fodder for entertainment at an international scale.

secret stephen colbert GIF

10. Someone to blame it on

For Trump, Obama is the cause of every single ill in the world. North Korea developing nuclear arms? Blame Obama. The elections were rigged in Trumps’ favour? Blame Obama. We bet if a fan stopped working in the White House, Trump would type out an angry tweet blaming Obama.

blame you GIF by WWE

On the other hand, while Imran has many justified reasons to blame Nawaz Sharif for the actual ills plaguing this country, sometimes he takes it to an extent that can be classified as reaching, especially when all he has to offer are conspiracy theories. This nation loves conspiracy theories, which is perhaps why Imran should refrain from claiming foreign involvement every chance he gets, unless he has actual proof to back his claims up.

11. Fake news

Another trend the world owes to Trump is the widespread prevalence of the term ‘fake news’. Made-up facts forwarded to you on Whatsapp and shared on your Facebook is where real news is at now. The media actually doing its job, doing research and reporting everything going wrong in politics? That’s all fake news. Especially if it’s the New York Times, one of the most respected publications in the world, which is most certainly a fake paper according to Trump.

donald trump GIF

On the other hand, Imran has recently made his own ‘fake news’ claim against Pakistan’s first English publication that was founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself, accusing it of bias, despite most papers largely reporting facts where it concerns him and his party.

Where Trump was deemed to be running the country on Twitter, Imran has been dubbed the Prime Minister of Facebook. Both of them rely heavily on conspiracy theories and will accept anything written in their favour and be quick to deny if it isn’t, despite the source’s credibility or lack thereof.

Is Imran as bad as Trump? For all our sakes, we hope not. Yet both shared enough factors in common for this article to practically write itself.

We hope if (read: when) Imran comes into power, he gives us all a Naya Pakistan where tulips bloom in winter and all our miseries are a thing of the past. Realistically speaking, however, we’re all in for an interesting five years where, as in the past, none of what was promised is likely to be delivered.

GIFs: Giphy


Blogs Desk

Blogs Desk

The Express Tribune Blogs desk.

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

  • Murtaza Ali

    Well, even though most of the mentioned points are horridly biased, there are 100 other reasons to why other politicians are equivalent to likes of D-company holding office. And Khan is similar to Trump? Umm. That isn’t a bad thing at all. Trump has sparkled U.S economy, ISIS is destroyed, NK has agreed to terms and conditions, highest employment rate in recent years. Yes. Pakistan first, it is. Now you can go under your psuedo-liberal blanket and mourn. Khan is Trump in policy making minus the demagogue trait.Recommend

  • Eddied

    Trump is a self made billionaire…Khan is a good cricket player…a big difference…Recommend

  • Jai

    I have no doubt in my mind that this was written by a feminist who is a pseudo-liberal Definitely tried their best to draw false equivalency between the two.

    The biggest reason behind the rise of Trump was the fall of the regressive Democrats who betrayed the blue collar workers and sold out to the corporations.

    IK’s rise can be easily attributed to the fatigue with the duopoly of PML-N and PPP.

    Leave it to ET to perpetuate stereotypical caricatures to draw readers.Recommend

  • sullu2004

    one thing common among IK and DT both are lose characters , loose mouth and live in self rightness.Recommend

  • Stupid Intelligent

    Lol, this guy takes bathes in black lentils to drive off evil spirits; A real misplaced choice when it comes to PM selection.Recommend

  • Muhammad Faizan

    The article is obviously written to trigger PTI voters. Lost its credibility when they mentioned the tweet of Omar Qureshi, who works for PPP and has posted multiple fake tweets against PTI and IK. Its an opinion but a very bad one.Recommend

  • Parvez

    ET you’ll could have come up with something better …… stuff like this has the tendency to be counterproductive…. has the hint of desperation.Recommend

  • Iftikhar Khan

    Within the context of Pakistan and few hours before the election, Donald Trump has definitely more similarities with Imran Khan than with Nawaz Sharif. There is no point of a comparison of Trump with Asif Zardari or Maulana Fazalur Rehman since they will be at 3rd and 4th position, perhaps.
    Both Trump and Imran are tall men, with third wives; one bought his degree and other got on sport’s scholarship; one became wealthy from shady deals, other by marrying a wealthy London socialite. Neither like to read; both are fond of tweeting in the morning. Neither smoke cigarettes, neither consume alcohol, both like McDonald’s burgers….Recommend

  • Hassan Farooqi

    Trump won primary because all of his opponents were plain crap. He won the general elections because his opposition was Hillary, whereas Bernie would have won.

    Imran is going to win because his opposition is Zardari and Sharif family. Even MMA has crooks like Mulla Diesel.

    So the comparison is valid because IK will win since his opponents are a much more
    bigger crap than him.Recommend

  • Salman Qadeer

    I think it is time to stop reading tribune due to such stupid articles…Recommend

  • bmniac

    Yet another common point perhaps. Both never opened a book for decades!Recommend

  • Grammar Police

    I’m sorry but that is an extremely pseudo article. PML-N joined hands with Sipa-e-Sehaba. Let that sink in. Can be refuted on multiple other points. Nawaz Sharif is the rich businessman equivalent of Trump. Zardari is another species. PML-N had absolute majority and never got rid of the Blasphemy law. Irrespective of the idiot Imran Khan of supporting it verbally, the N-league had the majority but didn’t do jack. Let that sink in. Nawaz Sharif is a useless politician.Recommend

  • farhan

    19 —- 20Recommend

  • Duniya Hasan

    You people just don’t get tired of electing same old people, aren’t you starved for new government?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Dead wrong to boot. Big Yellow won the election because of massive massive
    help from Russia. 15 of his campaign leaders have been indicted so far. There
    is a huge ongoing investigation on Big Yellow. Plus he appears to have been
    compromised by Russian intelligence. They will eventually find out what Russians
    have on him. He appears to be a boot licker for Putin. Very guilty behavior.
    Imran Khan is not the brightest marble in the box. Actually he is the only choice left.
    With a lot of baggage. There is no one else. Not the thug from Raiwind or the owner
    of Sindh…er…10% percenter wadera from the Party of Dead People,… Garhi Kuda Baksh, Larkana, Sindh.
    So keep your fingers crossed and pray for the best.Recommend

  • Patwari

    …and you are totally ignorant.Recommend

  • AAM

    Well it is a biased write up who simply has the extreme level of hatred towards Imran Khan. But now as PTI has won the elections, and the new PM of Pakistan would be Imran Khan, so I think it would be much better to wait and watch his performance, rather than giving out rants before the time.Recommend

  • Jai

    I thought people would be aware by now that the deep state in US always blames Russia for their own wrongdoings. There is a reason why Mueller hasn’t found any evidence of Russia’s involvement in the US elections yet.

    On the other hand, Democrats are not accepting the defeat to a reality show celebrity because they can’t accept the bitter truth of DNC establishment selling out to the corporations.Recommend

  • Eddied

    and you are a liar…Recommend

  • Eddied

    what a pile of lies you have written?…Recommend

  • Patwari

    Yes, Duniya, they would love to get new blood,
    new leaders with new vibrant ideas. Politics is
    like business. Basically you need patronship and
    money to get started. To get your foot in the door.
    As in any country. including, specially, Pakland.
    You, need money to run the political campaign.
    The new younger generation, with ideas, education
    and knowledge to make a difference, simply don’t
    have the connections or the… money.
    So, you don’t see them on the ballot.
    Besides, in Pakland, it’s dynastic politics. Passed from
    incompetent feudal landlord/wadera to incompetent
    feudal, thug, son.
    Hope this helps.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Coming from you, who does not know the difference between
    Cricket and Soccer is just gibberish.Recommend

  • XYZ123

    Left and right wing are highly relative terms and depend on their local context. Logically, if an insignificant percentage refers to the vast majority as right wing, they are clearly mistaken. If the majority has selected Imran Khan as their choice, and smaller flanks have voted for pseudo secular or highly Islamic parties…the only sensible conclusion is that Imran represents the Center while the others represent right or left wing.

    The political spectrum in Pakistan is not based on definitions established in the west or elsewhere and it doesn’t help at all in the effort to have fair and unbiased reporting and discussions to shift the truth in this way.

    I will agree that imran has demonstrated the same sort of racial bigotry most Pakistanis display and he needs to fix that if he’s to represent all Pakistanis. Imran’s response to Babar Ghauri when discussing Sita White was quite racist and he should’ve apologized as he didn’t insult Babar Ghauri as much as he did all Pakistanis who are darker than “fair skinned”. It’s revolting that he perpetuates that kind of rhetoric and it’s one if the few things that make me uncomfortable with him though I’d still vote for him over the others who are murderers and criminals rather than merely subtle racistsRecommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Republicans would have rather faced Bernie in the general election because they had so much history on “Comrade Bernie” to use against him!
    Bernie Giving the Che Guevara salute with far left Comrades in Central America appearances would have played big in ads!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Note that you fall back on personal attacks when facts fail you!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Really? Comparing Imran Khan to Big Yellow is not a bad thing?
    Well, in other words, if you support, Trump, YOU support :-
    A bigot, a misogynist, a racist, a white supremacist.
    A woman hater, who has harassed hundreds of women. His lawyer pays them off.
    A man who called Nazis ‘good people’.[doubt if you know who Nazis are]
    Your name sounds like like Muslim name [can’t be sure in this day and age]
    So you support the discriminatory Muslim ban by Big Yellow. Against your own brothers.
    Starting a trade war with China. [you will see the effects down the road, worldwide]
    Pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Pact. [on Israel’s and Saudia’s insistent]
    Calling all Mexicans rapists, child molesters, thieves, bandits. Calling Canadians weak
    and wimpy people.
    Pulling out of the Paris Accord. Calling, climate change a hoax.
    Blaming Pakland for all of Afganistan’s problems. [Afghanistan is a poppy/hashis/heroin
    growing region, divided among 5 or 6 warlords. It is a tribal society living in 7th,, century.]
    Creating more problems by arming ISIS and other extremists in Syria/Iraq.
    Siding with thug strongman Putin over NATO allies.
    This can go on for 5 pages…….see, you don’t have the slightest idea.Recommend

  • Hassan Farooqi

    Trump inherited a big fortune, and plundered most of it. Although he added back thru his scams like Trump Airline, Trump University, Trump Vodka etc. Plus add the inflation.Recommend