Is Imran Khan the real deal?

Published: November 5, 2011

Even though the youth sees hope in Imran Khan, lets not forget that as long as his people and his home are safe, Imran Khan stays quiet. PHOTO: AFP / FILE

In 2008, America thought electing an African-American president was the solution to all its problems. “Yes, we can” became the order of the day. More than his policies, it was the colour of Obama’s skin that grabbed people’s attention — not just in America, but the world over. Everyone figured a black man in office would “obviously” look out for the American underdog.

Today, the average American sentiment towards Obama, and what the country is now terming his “failed policies”, overshadows any sympathy that may have voted him into power in the first place.

Which brings me to Imran Khan. Popular with the masses (read: youth)? Check. Question is, why?Ask the average charged up 22-year-old why he’s so passionately updating his Facebook status to “Imran Khan will change things” and you’ll be rewarded with a stare that implies, “Are you stupid? He’s the only one who can change things around here.” Again, I ask, what makes you say that? The person looks stupefied. “Who needs reasoning when it’s so painfully obvious?”

Forget that he once supported the referendum which put Musharraf in power – a man who Imran himself later termed “a conman”, making sweeping statements such as “Musharraf first, all else second”. Forget that he’s flat out rejected the very notion of Talibanisation in Pakistan saying there’s “no such thing”. Let’s also forget that two years ago, when he kept pushing for mid-term elections, the PTI didn’t even have its manifesto ready.

But let’s not forget, just yet, how he never spoke out against the MQM — up until May 12, 2007. Why May 12? Because that’s when his own people came in the line of fire.

So basically what he was telling us at that point in time was, as long as the injustices are kept at bay (from his people, his home) he was willing to stay mum on an issue (let’s call it that) he supposedly considered “wrong” to begin with.

Sounds a lot like “Imran Khan [and his people] first, all else second”.

Saarysh Zuberi

Saarysh Zuberi

An independent filmmaker, currently working as a sub-editor at the National desk of The Express Tribune.

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

  • LALA

    What’s you point? I mean in this article you have just pointed out what he has done wrong in the last few years, and FYI everyone knows that – people make mistakes even you do. Don’t compare him with Obama. Obama is just a puppet of the establishment and he has nothing in his hand just like our ruling class. US was a super power that was losing money like water when he took the charge, whereas Pakistan is even struggling to stay afloat. Recommend

  • Rehan

    Dear ET Readers,
    Will someone please explain to me why exactly do these militants – who have connections with the DEEP state – only target the PPP? Anyone find it even a bit strange? Benazir was the true revolutionary. Imran is a pure propaganda tool of the deep state. People who refer to her as “incompetent” and “corrupt”, need a lesson on the difference between fact and fiction.
    First point: 6% Economic growth rate during her second tenure as Prime-minister, with trade sanctions. According to most economists, that was pure economic genius. Keep in mind that Musharraf could barely get that growth rate during his tenure when there were no sanctions and money was flowing in from the west. Furthermore, she created a surplus of electricity, when just a year before she had taken over, there was a severe deficit. And lastly, in 1993, Pakistan was on the brink of being declared a terrorist nation. She single-handedly brought Pakistan back into the main-stream through her practical diplomacy with the world.
    As for corrupt, PLEASE, PLEASE, prove even ONE case against her. People have tried again and again, from Zia to Nawaz to Musharraf, but all have failed to PROVE even ONE case! Why don’t the educated middle-classes of the country realize that Ms. Bhutto’s reputation was always tarnished by the media wing of a certain agency, purely because she was a practical leader. All policy experts, Pakistani and non-Pakistani alike, have commented on this. Numerous attempts by the establishment were made to destabilize her government and tarnish her reputation, by these fabrications that were just utter lies. And yet, our sad, brainwashed citizens continue to feed into this nonsensical propaganda.
    Getting to my point, Imran khan has no vision, no policy-plan, no 21st -century agenda. His popularity rests on calling a few politicians corrupt (with absolutely no evidence to back up his claims, and his cricketing success. His ideology is that of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s, and it is known that he has deep contacts with the establishment, which means that he’s safe. Hardly a revolutionary then.
    Lastly, Imran Khan was an MNA for FIVE YEARS. What did he do?! Please, tell me WHAT DID HE DO during those five years. According to a lot of policy analysts, most voters in his district had become so frustrated with Imran’s lack of care and consideration for them, that he was all set to lose his seat had he gone ahead and actually contested the 2008 election!!
    Pakistan already had its revolutionary; and that revolutionary was brutally murdered. So, here we are, left with these puppets who use propaganda to exploit the uninformed masses.
    I could say more, but these comments depress me more than they make me want to debate. our country is not illiterate; our country is sadly ignorant, and no amount of investment in education will change that.
    Warmest Regards,
    Rehan ZahidRecommend

  • Majid

    Sense is being prevailed! Pakistani youth will not let the “secret” hands win the war this time.Recommend

  • Tahir

    Rubbish article, waste of time.Recommend

  • MN

    Other than nit picking, whatever you tried to pose was an epic fail. He might be lacking manifesto, but how many manifestos you and I have seen being practiced in this country? He might not be surrounded by big names, but how many Landlords, Lawyers, Beaurocrats and Businessmen in this country have delivered to date? He might be lacking what people like you call “a solution” but how many solutions have been put forth by other parties? At least he is not corrupt, not murderous, no cases filed against him for writing off bank loans… This IS something that makes him a man apart. And this is enough for any Pakistani who wants to see Pakistan as a prosperous country, not one termed as immoral and corrupt even by the international cricketers.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    Pakistani people are really sentimental and foolishly look for quick answers. Do people remember the religous televangelist who was hailed as an icon in their homes? and later they were disappointed. Not realizing that Imran’s political plan is hollow and inapplicable I think, as a country we can be in even more trouble if he comes in power. He does not even have people in his party who can run affairs of country. So the change in Pakistan will come through evolution and not revolution and the sad thing is, that our public has not even evolved to properly use a public toilet.Recommend

  • Rational Pakistani Khan

    You’re right – comparing Obama to IK is ludicrous. For one, Obama is much more intelligent.

    As for being “a puppet of the establishment” you might want to look at whose interests Imran Khan represents. Ok, I’ll make it easy for you – the military-mullay-ISI hegemony over Pakistan. Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    If I read more blog about Imran Khan, I’ll have to wash my eyes with concentrated ethanol. And I’m not particularly looking forward to that, so I wish Express Tribune recognizes this silly redundancy and brings back some diversity.Recommend

  • Ali Mohsan

    I think whoever is writing these blogs is on the PML N payroll to malign Imran. Recommend

  • Numan

    Imean is the only politician who has taken any stance on drones. They are not killing his family. He is the only one who talks about respect for green passport. Is that just for him?your article has an excellent start but a pathetic end.Recommend

  • Zakir Khan

    wow thats the only argument that you could come up with against IK and PTI that he once supported Musharraf (mind you Musharraf was welcomed by PPP & all major political forces for his agenda at that time) and that IK only speaks out when his party or himself is a direct target.
    Miss Zuberi If not him,than who else do you think is the potential alternative to the incumbent ”angelic” Zardari and co? I would love to know that.
    by the way comparing Obama to Imran also shows your lack of understanding of the main issues faced by this wrecked nation today.
    for me and millions like me, any clean politican with unbelmish and outstanding past record will do and to me that is IK and I will be voting for him in next elections.Recommend

  • Mohi

    I am a supporter of Imran Khan. and the reason I do that is because that I see the political landscape of Pakistan, and he seems the (good) odd one out in all of them. Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Well written. I also wonder why Imran Khan stopped pursuing the case he filed against Altaf Hussain and never continued with his “Laan Taan” on MQM he earlier used to do. Now where are the principals ?Recommend

  • Shamim

    and will your ‘mr revolutionary’ do a dharna infront of GHQ or US embassy for drones killings?Recommend

  • Akbar

    and why you wasted your time reading it, if it was rubbish, rubbish because it exposed the so called ‘mr self proclaimed revolutionary’.? Recommend

  • Aslam

    @Ali Mohsan:
    and who paid you to write your stuff here? let me guess PTI or ISI?Recommend

  • Social Scientist

    So you are one of them:

    If there had not been a crowd of 100,000 at minar-e-Pakistan you people would be claiming Imran has no support and bla bla…

    Now when people came to hear him without being pressurized to attend jalsa like always happens, you say its not a criteria to calculate vote bank….

    You might have 100 reasons not to support PTI, But we have only one that we won’t vote the OTHERS now…No matter if it takes us deep down to the bottom of miseries which I doubt as if the OTHERS couldn’t PTI wouldnt either.


  • Raza Qureshi

    Enough is enough. There are PPP and PML N stooges everywhere now in the media who keep on spreading despair amongst the youth that Imran Khan either won’t be elected or won’t be able to deliver if elected. These pessimist voices never accepted that IK would be able to stage a Jalsa larger than PML N and mind you, he did three times larger than PML N (quoted by Sohail Warraich who himslef attended both the processions and also by all local media as well as French news agencies).

    Tell us something we don’t know. You can’t stop us from electing Khan. I am gonna vote for him with my friends and family and to hell goes pessimist critique. Recommend

  • MarkH

    Sigh. You should know better than to leave troll food out in the open like that. Those things never miss the chance to move their jaw even if it’s full and you can’t make any sense of what they’re saying.Recommend

  • Umar

    Taking quotes out of context doesn’t prove anything. Most people on here are pretty well-informed so I would like to remind you that pulling that sort of stunt is not going to work here.

    Obama had his own issues in America, where both sides of the argument, the conservatives and liberals, actually have a valid point. Corruption in PK, is a completely different ballgame, so its not a great comparison. Recommend

  • Basil Khan

    The reason people look up to him is because who else is there. The current government is incompetent and possibly Imran khans government will be too. But we are willing to take a chance. We have nothing to lose. Either we see change or we live the way we are used to living. Not much too it.
    So when you want to say Imran Khan cannot be trusted fully, i urge you to please put forward other candidates so we can take a look.Recommend

  • Sharjeel

    true that.. the thing is the politics of Pakistan is engineered by our establishment.. i fail to get the answer why is MQM silent towards IK now and congratulates him for his jalsa in Lahore.. I wonder what happened to those cases in London on Altaf Hussain and MQM, the 12may is long forgotten now, IK allowed to visit Karachi and above all you will find banners for Shaukat Khanum in areas like FB Area where MQM is the only party.. looks like we’re going to have an alliance of these parties at least in the next term. the whole jalsa was about zardari and sharifs..Recommend

  • Zohaib

    Saarysh, what you did here is basically just stereotype all Imran Khan supporters, which is quite ironic since you’re complaining about them stereotyping you or others for not being an Imran Khan supporter.Recommend

  • Mohammad Assad

    Neend Arahi hai yaarRecommend

  • ahsan goher

    Compare Imran Khan’s mistakes to the mistakes of other parties and decide for yourself. His mistakes compared to the killings, corruption, nepotism of others parties makes him an angel. I didn’t say he never made any mistakes. Even Quaid e Azam used to be in congress once. If you were alive at that time you would have said he is a turn coat, how can a turn coat make Pakistan blah blah..You fail to foresee the popularity and honesty of a person. Recommend

  • Anum

    Plus the only thing Musharraf did “wrong” was mess with the judiciary. Take note, there are no accusations of corruption against Musharraf.Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Agree but the racists of this nation would never recognize his services to this nation.Recommend

  • Rihatum

    Point of the article ? or have you not written anything useful in a while ?

    Imran khan may be like others but he hasn’t been given a chance, Pakistani’s are fedup with PPP, PML N, Q, A, B, C, D, MQM, Islami Jamiat Organisation and all others who have been like bed bugs for Pakistan itself.

    Imran Khan seems to have a vision, can speak in clear English and Urdu.

    Lets give him a chance instead of just rejecting him or writing negative about him.

    Change comes from within and we all (Pakistani’s) should vote for Imran Khan or any other NEW Candidate from a NEW Party who hasn’t been in power since the creation of Pakistan.

    This PPP, MQM and all other rubbish should now be forgotten, all they are doing is trying to keep there HOLD in different areas of the country – not working for the common good of the country.Recommend

  • LALA

    @Rational Pakistani Khan
    Oh come on! Imran Khan is the real deal. If he was for the establishment than he would have become the Prime Minister of the country when Musharraf offered him the post years ago. As far as intelligence is concerned, you are the most intelligent idiot this country has ever seen. Happy?Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    The important point is that Imran Khan has not learnt anything from his “mistakes”. He doesn’t even consider them mistakes.
    Has he acknowledged that Talibanization is a Pakistani problem? That it is genuinely our war, with our own creation gone out of control? No. He still plays to the populist sentiment. And stupidly blames drone attacks for the creation of the TTP.
    He doesn’t even have the guts to go against the types of Hamid Gul, instead asks them for advice. Has he ever acknowledged that the ISI needs to be under the control of the civilian govt., of under his govt.’s control, if he comes to power?
    He is the most popular leader because he has worked very hard on becoming popular. You can get to anywhere you put all your efforts to.Recommend

  • Kung

    Imran Khan was asked about MQM case in a talk show. He said Scotland Yard told him that they need to come to Pakistan to interview witnesses. Neither Musharraf nor Zardari government allowed gave visa to Scotland Yard. Scotland Yard told Imran that without witnesses there is not enough evidence to persecute MQM. As for recent allegations of PML N against Imran,Imran answered them in following talk show.

  • bigsaf

    I’m not an IK fan (nor a fan of the other parties’ leaders, but recognize his few positives) and a strong critic myself. But this article botched it.

    Obama ‘failing’ is a right-wing talking point and quite far from truth. It doesn’t stop some far left liberals either who thought their system would transform overnight after decades of mismanagement and decided to punish him by staying away from the polls and handicapping him with one of the most lunatic right-wing Congresses ever. Doesn’t work like that, and certainly didn’t help. Considering the current Republican field…Obama’s light-years the better choice (I have little to criticize on the Drone strikes considering Pakistan’s own leaders seem to be 2 faced about it themselves). Someone earlier used Cain as an analogy. Both Cain and Obama are incorrect analogies for Khan.

    The conclusion also crashed. Imran Khan actually had many times touched on Altaf Hussain directing from overseas before May 17, 2007, and some would go as so far as to call him racist considering some of the language he used – but yes, public intensity and visibility would increase only after something like that which is natural.

    After Musharraf, MQM as a problem faded into the background even for their long time opponents such as the PPP, PML, ANP, etc, because of Karachi’s economic and security improvements thanks to a popular mayor. No one was bothered with them in the national conscience so much so that they had opened up offices in Punjab, hoping to go National. But, after that debacle, where they went against popular opinion, naturally they became public enemies number one…again.

    Claiming that as an indication of IK being selfish is quite a stretch. Recommend

  • saud

    I understand people like to skeptical, because they dont want to invest all their trust in a single political figure, and dont want to feel vulnerable when the leader is not able to deliver. I say fine if you dont like imran khan ignore him and his people, but understand this today Imran Khan is a choice by elimination for pakistanis.
    If not Imran Khan then Who

    1)Would anyone settle for another term of Zardari in the government that cant provide electricity, food or protection to its people.

    2)Nawaz again, do you want the whole country to be like Punjab and have all the ministries between him and his brother.

    3)JUI, encourage mullah rule, promote hardline islam and start a war with America.

    By process of elimination you are left with Imran Khan who said he would get us the world cup and he did in 1992, he said he would build a cancer hospital for poor and he did by collecting donations and recently he said he would show whose “the boss” in Lahore and on 30th he change the map of Pak politcs. I see a pattern here everything he has said does happen and that is a good enough track record for me.
    Judging from the success rate of his predictions, I am convinced our Next PM would by our KAPTAN and corruption would be a story of the past. (THIS would be the ALCAPONE era of the Pakistan, where Zardari would fit the role of the villain responsible for suicide of 1600, sending more than 50% under poverty line and breaking records of Corruptions).
    In the End I say “Inshallah” because all this could only happen God Willing.Recommend

  • Adil


    Show your true colours once again?Give every issue and dispute an ethnic colour just to get leverage. If Musharraf is a victim of racism then how come Nawaz Sharif (a Punjabi) himself promoted him to the rank of COAS? How come Lawyers Movement nominated a Muhajir named Wajihuddin Ahmed as a candidate against Musharraf in 2007 presedential elections? Why would Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui (yet another Muhajir) get nominated on behalf of both PML-N and Lawyers Movement in 2008 presedential elections (even though Nawaz Sharif would backtrack afterwards in terms of independence of Judiciary)Recommend

  • Malik

    I think he is gathering support becuase he is becoming symbol of change. Change that we need. We need change from Nawaz Sharif and Zardari politics, we need change from Jamat e Islami telling lies in the name of islam, we need change from radical islamist like qadaris to give up the position of powers, we need change from army finally has to do what its purpose is not to govern the country, we need chage from corrupt system of bureaucracy to continue with their 1901 style of governing this country, we need to put leaders in place who by force or by negotiations limit down controls of land owners and mafias.

    Imran Khan if can see above the walls of his original circle he can attain support of masses by doing the right thing. Through hope and character he can attract people to make things happen. There is nothing wrong in remaining honourable. He must keep his actions cleaner even if he find himself loosing the elections. Recommend

  • Rizvi

    @Author: Answer is that, he is the only honest candidate around. What happens after that, is for everyone to see.Recommend

  • Zaid

    Why is Jemima always showing up? Makes you wonder if the Goldsmiths are funding his ralliesRecommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely laid out but incomplete. Simply put as for now the people have two choices :
    1. Corrupt, self-serving, incompetent, shameless, openly unpatriotic – I don’t have to spell out which two or three or even four people (parties) I am referring to.
    2. Honest, politically naive, educated, untested, patriotic, determined.

    Would you deny No2 a chance just because he’s politically naive ? Remember a leaders job is to have vision, assemble a team, motivate it through self example to achieve the envisioned goal. Recommend

  • sadness

    I am oblivious to the direction of what tribune is trying to promote.. all your writers seems to have a problem with something or the other, all baseless. the journalistic point of view you have been propagating is hopeless and cynical.. we do not need this. Recommend

  • http://N/a Rana Hussnain

    No he is not he is not a true revolutionary. He is just a fake person who have help of establishment. He is juts being used against PMLN in punjab with the deal of MQM and Musharraf establishment. We condemn him and we will must stop him in Punjab. : Recommend

  • Kashif

    Yes, Imran khan is the real deal, it will split the rightest vote bank and no doubt zardari rule will prevail… Recommend

  • zaman

    when ever I came to read anything about PTI and Imran Khan people get too much emotional remember this is politics not cricket, all youth is not educated and dont use internet and member of social site like facebook and twitter, so thinking all youth is with Imran Khan is slightly unfair well imran khan is right deal or he made deal with others at background it will be clear when time will come, but i am sure in Imran Khan government youth will have total freedom or may be new act will be introduced to give youth complete freedom and what youth doing now a days not hidden and what will happen when they will have right and complete freedom in PTI government? a thinkable point. Recommend

  • Shafiq Afridi

    I can simply say that only GOD know the future but at the time being Imran Khan is going right. The militancy in Pakistan is a gift of American war against Afghanistan. in the very begging of his rule Pervaiz Musharraf was going right so not only Imran Khan but the youth supported him, but when he took his famous U-Turn then all these bad situation created in Pakistan.
    In short i can say the future come out what may be, presently Imran Khan is the only Modern, educated and charismatic personality who is talking right at every stage.Recommend

  • zainab

    Its very interestingt to note that these allegations are all one can come up with to oppose Imran Khan.Now let’s make a list of allegations we can put on Mr ten percent and the Shareefs and then decides who is better off. Imran Khan has entered politics and that too of a very complexed country,correction:his supporters are not 22 years old ignorants,we know how precious our vote is and are realistic and know that Imran Khan doesn’t have a magic wand to bring change overnight.Nations fate change in decades..and Imran Khan truly deserves the credit for even initiating the change. Only two kind of people dislike Imran Khan,those who have connections with PPP or PML(N) or they are just pessimists.One last thing net time who ever criticisez imran Khan should come up with an alternative too.We ignorant youth might be enlightened!!Recommend

  • Ali

    To all the Bhutto fans out there: this conversation about the pros and cons of Bhutto has been repeated ad-nauseam before.

    I personally think we were better of without her. We can definielty do without Zardari!!!Recommend

  • http://None Awsim

    I am a supporter of Imran Khan and most probably am going to vote for him too, but Im not exactly here to declare anyone wrong or right. I need answers and clarification. 1st of all yes I don’t want to see MQM and PTI together, if thats what is going on right now then its a big problem. Secondly this I know for sure and seeing it happen. As expected not much of the youngsters have been brought forward by Imran Khan or have been given ticket of the party for elections. I see most of the “LOTA” people joining in who had stickers of “TEER” and then “SHER” on their cars. I can vouch for Imran Khan’s honesty looking at the things he has done in the past etc etc but to what extent he can control such corrupt people on the lower level once they are elected as MPAs and MNAs? Same people will rule over us again, I fear this the most as then all our hard work will go in vain. Making mistakes is but natural and you learn whatever whatever but this is definitely not a mistake this is very obvious that such people should not be brought forward at any cost. Why can we youngsters just go as public or supporters in his party’s Jalsa, Why can’t we actually fill in these places as next Ministers Governors? I really need these questions answered. Recommend

  • Salman Orangiwala

    @ Ali

    Wonder why Imran HAD to eat his words back regarding the so called Impeachment of
    MQM. The same goes with Zulfiqar Mirza ! You think these allegations could make a dent into MQM’s vote bank . Wake up and smell the Doodh Patti .

    Further It was Imran who rang Altaf Hussain post Raymond Davis saga , and not the other way round .

    See ? Unlike the Net Brigade PTIeers , Imran does savvy who to get loggerhead on ,and who not to , thanks to the grasroot diehard mass MQM support .Recommend

  • Rida Khan

    You pointed out 2-3 ‘mistakes’ Imran Khan made in his whole political career…What about the tons and tons of corrupt acts by PML N or PPP or MQM?? Why not point all that out and just get critical about I.K?Recommend

  • Salman Orangiwala

    @ Rida , MQM and corruption ????…C’mon even the staunchest of the MQM foe cannot come up with a single one . Dont get carriedawayRecommend

  • Raja Islam

    @Salman Orangiwala:
    Where do you think all the money is coming from? Who pays for the expenses of the leaders? How is it that poor individuals who became leaders are now extremely wealthy?
    Having said that, being a Karachiite I agree with you that MQM’s vote bank is intact and they will win the same number of seats in the next election.Recommend

  • Salman Orangiwala

    @Raja Islam , Great Hypothesis . “extremely rich !!!! ” which one .Mind telling us ?

    You think your anti-MQM agencies , Zulfiqar Mirza and that CJ would have spared MQM of these charges , if even they had a little lead ?

    lolzzzzzzzzzzzzz you might be referring to Nawaz , Zardari , Asfandayar Wali , Zulfiqar Mirza and maybe “play scrabble ,get rich ” Imran Khan .

    And yes , good thinking the vote bank will not only remain intact , it will grow beyond your imagination , InshaAllah .Recommend

  • Rida Khan

    In total agreement with @Raja Islam
    And @Salman Orangiwala …Corruption is the least I could have said. Its certainly not ‘getting carried away’ Recommend

  • Rida Khan

    p.s @Salman … I think its more like “Captain when Pak won the world cup, make personal sacrifices for the sake of his country, abandon his riches (Atleast not illegally obtained) and comforts for the greater good whenever needed, always keeps his word” Imran Khan Recommend