Dear Imran Khan, I beg to differ…
I have observed Imran Khan’s recent meteoric rise with mixed emotions. On the one hand, he is scrupulously honest and seemingly sincere in his desire for a new Pakistan. This is in stark contrast to the political cretins who inhabit our legislature and executive. And as my sister would confirm, I am somewhat predisposed to a positive view of Imran based on years of boyhood hero worship (she labelled it a man-crush).
On the other hand, thoughtful liberals can only cringe as he invokes a heady mix of right-wing ideology, jingoism, Islamic nationalism, and anti-American vitriol – dangerous follies that tap into and reaffirm a distorted narrative that is accepted as fact by younger generations of Pakistanis. Khan, with his seemingly simple solutions (I will get rid of “big” corruption in 90 days) and absolutist statements (“we need to stand up to America”) is the Sarah Palin of Pakistan.
But I digress.
The throngs of people and the sea of red-green flags waving in unison to patriotic songs in Karachi at the recent PTI jalsa were a sight to behold. Electrifying atmosphere, I can understand, but it was surreal to read Facebook statuses dedicated to IK’s ‘great’ speech from seemingly sensible friends of mine at the rally. Truth be told, it was pretty ordinary, and the only thing new was the inclusion of a new lota.
My advice to the Kaptaan’s supporters – dote less and question more, feel less and think more, demand a detailed manifesto, policy specifics, and democratic party infrastructure. If Khan were assassinated tomorrow, would you vote for a PTI led by Shah Mahmood Qureshi? If not, then Imran Khan has fashioned a personal cult and not a genuine political movement.
Demand an explanation for Imran’s recent endorsement of feudal-based patronage as his electoral strategy. Hurry up, lest you find yourself in the awkward position of defending Pervez Elahi and his son’s candidature on a future PTI ticket. I know the bar is low, but our expectations need not be. Stop excusing everything with the tired ‘he is better than the alternatives’ argument. In short, get real!
Now, without further ado, let’s get on with my top 10 gripes with Imran Khan’s Karachi rally:
10) It started many hours late. Is it too much to expect a jalsa to start on time? From a political party that talks about heralding change, starting a much-anticipated rally late is especially appalling.
9) He was straddled on stage by new entrants and political heavyweights, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Javed Hashmi, with the old loyal PTI guard aka political novices, seemingly sidelined. Not a good sign at all.
8) He had to be reminded about the people of Punjab when calling out upon the different provinces and ethnicities.
7) His cricket analogies are becoming increasingly lame.
6) What’s with the indiscriminate music every 90 seconds of his speech? Granted his monotone needed to be tempered by interruptions, but they could have at least waited for natural cues.
5) Too many Aafia Siddiqui signs! Look people, the woman was an unhinged fanatic and al Qaeda member. Try to get that!
4) No Karachi specific issues. Why is Imran Khan (read: Taliban Khan) reluctant to talk about terrorism and its deadly toll on the average Karachiite and Pakistani? No mention of MQM’s bhatta operation either – political expediency has led to Altaf Bhai and the MQM being forgiven for the mayhem in May 2009.
3) Still no specifics. No, generous man-hugs for our Baloch brothers and a fleeting reference to East-Germany-style special development status for Balochistan doesn’t count folks.
2) He lived up to his reputation of “Im the Dim” by claiming that computers would end corruption. Ahem yes, it is impossible to cook the books on Excel.
1) As a general rule, revolutionary leaders (especially of the self-proclaimed variety) should avoid flying in to rallies on private jets.
PS: Shhhh! Don’t mention this to the kaptaan’s fans/cultists. The cult of personality, that they have succumbed to, renders them incapable of tolerating any criticism of their great leader, Kim-ul-Imran. They are, thus, rather prone to apoplectic paroxysms of rage.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.