In the last few years, I have read quite a few threads in various Pakistani forums regarding Imran Khan and his efforts to win elections to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. To be really honest, before he entered into politics, I thought he was some kind of holy cow and nobody could touch him. But when he entered politics I must say —especially now–it is quite revealing to read the points put forth by his critics. Now it is actually good to see in one way that every man or woman should be amenable to scrutiny and accountability irrespective of your popularity. It is the life blood of an effective, functioning democracy that valid and well founded criticism is levelled against politicians.
Now having said that, I as an outsider/neutral would like to offer what I feel about Imran’s candidacy. In one way as an Indian I believe I have some genuine interest in knowing what is happening in Pakistan compared to maybe a Scandinavian or an Australian. India is Pakistan’s neighbor and it is common sense that you want your neighbour to be prosperous, happy and on the path of development so that it emits an aura of stability which is good for its neighbors too. If your neighbor’s house is burning and if the fire is not being doused, it is only a matter of time before the other houses surrounding it would also be engulfed in the embers of flames.
Let me stick out my neck and say why I feel Imran Khan should at least be given one chance at the post of the high office. I absolutely claim zero knowledge of Pakistani politics, Pakistani societal dynamics. All my knowledge is from reading the newspaper Dawn, visiting Cricistan and a couple of other Pakistan centric forums.
I think we all can agree that the primary trait/character we want our politicians to possess is honesty, integrity, a burning desire to serve people, a clean heart with no ulterior motives.
Let me put myself in the shoes of a Pakistani citizen—but equipped with my limited knowledge as an Indian as I mentioned above.
How do you form your opinion about any man? Especially somebody who wants to run for the highest office in the country. I would personally see his personality, level of integrity and honesty, his intentions to serve his country backed by a solid, comprehensive plan.
So, how can we arrive at judgment about Imran Khan? A majority of my opinion making is based on his cricketing achievements. I know leading a cricket team of 11 cricketers is vastly, hugely different from leading a nation of 176 million. But I am saying that it is the only public avenue available to me based on which I can form an opinion–howsoever small it maybe.
IMRAN KHAN AS A CRICKETER
1992 WORLD CUP
- It was under his leadership that Pakistan won the elusive World Cup in 1992. The circumstances surrounding this World Cup and Imran’s role in it is quite an unbelievable story. If only Pakistani film industry was equipped with fine film making capabilities, somebody could have made a blockbuster masterpiece movie out of it.
- I read that he actually came out of retirement to lead this team at the age of 40. Nobody gave them a hope in hell but Imran believed he could do it and made his team believe they could do it.
- Even during the world cup although he was suffering from a lot of physical pain, he willed himself to play using all kinds of pain killers.
- In the all important final match, Pakistan was in a very delicate position losing two early wickets. They were down 2/24. Imran Khan was originally slated to come in at number 6. Quite staggeringly he pushed himself to number 3–I want readers to take a pause and reflect on this impossibly mind boggling move—a player who never played in that position ever in his career, who is 40 years old and over the hill suffering from severe pain in his shoulder—decides to push himself as a one down batsman in a WORLD CUP FINAL. Imagine the criticism he would have faced if he got out first ball. But, what happened? He was the top scorer in the whole match with 72 runs. His strike rate was higher than Javed Miandad. Imran Khan always believed in retaining wickets so that in the end the lower order batsmen can throw their bats around. He was shrewd enough to realize that—in those days –225 was a very good score especially given the raw talent of the Pakistani bowlers and they actually ended up scoring an above par score of 249. It takes a lot of guts, bravery, immense belief in not only himself but his team to make an incredible move like that. There is no parallel in World Cup history of any other captain making such an inspirational move. Dhoni pushing himself above the batting order comes second- but unlike Imran he was a physically fit, capable batsman then.
- What does all the above show? I can see a man whose heart and mind was filled with just one goal—and willing to put everything he had at his disposal to achieve it. It is all the more mind boggling to note that Pakistan had actually lost their first 3 matches and HAD to win all the remaining matches to make it to the semi finals. They very nearly crashed out of the tournament in next match when they played England. Pakistan was all out for 74 and England were on their way to win the match at 24/1 in 8 overs when suddenly out of nowhere heavens decided to open up and the match was rained out giving Pakistan an all important 1 point. Eventually this one point gave Pakistan 9 points in the league stage which pushed them to the semi finals. West Indies and Australia both ended up at 8 points 1 point short of Pakistan.
- I truly believe God decided to help the Pakistan team win the World Cup. I know I am opening up myself to a lot of criticism but I truly, honestly believe that God helps a man whose intentions are noble, clean and who is willing to give his 100% towards his stated cause. Imran Khan wanted to win this World Cup to build a cancer hospital. It was a classic one arrow two birds scenario. Imran got his cancer hospital, Pakistan got its world cup. Of course Imran was also proud of the World Cup too but he was mainly motivated by the hospital.
- What does all the above show? That Imran is a leader of men. That Imran Khan when once he decides he wants to achieve something he would personally go to any lengths to do it. He leads the team from the front and he sets an example for other players to follow. As I said his act of pushing himself up the order in a world cup final using pain killers has no parallel in world cup history.
- Another mind boggling thing to note here is that, Imran Khan lead a team of novices to a world cup win with only Javed Miandad who was an experienced campaigner. To those people who say that was a fluke win to discredit Imran Khan, how come Pakistan did not win the subsequent world cups when they actually had much better teams in 1996, 1999 and 2003? So, the game changer was Imran Khan’s leadership.
IMRAN KHAN-MATCH FIXING
- It is also quite clear that when Imran Khan was at the helm of affairs —the menace of match fixing was a million miles away from Pakistan. I cannot believe that just after Imran left, match fixing allegations were making rounds as early as 1993–a mere one year after Imran left the Pakistan team. It just shows the character of the man that his fellow team mates were in so much awe of him that they never entertained even the idea of match fixing when Imran was around.
- Imran Khan also proved that he is not only worried about Pakistan cricket but the welfare of world cricket in general–as he was the one who proposed this idea of neutral umpires in world cricket.
Now what does all the above prove? At least one thing is clear to me that–he is not a man of mere words—he leads by example, he sets an example for others to follow. Imran Khan is passionate, powerful in his heart and mind and willing to do everything within his power to make things happen. He is charismatic, inspirational and he has a distinct hatred for corruption.
Now all the above proves to me —although in a cricketing ambience—that Imran is a man of utter honesty, integrity, dedication, hard work fired by a strong zeal to achieve his targets. Compared to other politicians whose life history we generally do not know about—at least Imran Khan’s life is an open book and you can see that you are dealing with an honest man.
I have read about Imran Khan’s personal life issues—but that is what they are–personal. And nobody is claiming that Imran is the second incarnation of God. He is a human being and he may have made mistakes but we all do.
IMRAN KHAN-WHY I WOULD VOTE FOR HIM.
Again as I have mentioned earlier, I do not claim any extensive, deep knowledge of Pakistani society or politics, but what I do know is that I want an honest, truthful and a man of integrity who has a desire to serve the public–as my political representative and I truly believe Imran has got all those qualities–at least based on the qualities he exhibited as a cricket leader. Again I stress this, I know politics is not a game of cricket—but politics is also not complicated as it is made out to be. We need politicians who are honest and willing to serve the people who elect them. That much I know.
I would put all the points down which have influenced me into believing that Imran Khan needs to be given at least one chance to make a difference in Pakistan.
- First things first, if Imran Khan wanted, he could have been a British citizen way back and enjoying a happy, stress free, fear free, normal family life with a beautiful lady and his kids. He could have minted millions as a cricket expert, commentator, maybe as a coach in IPL etc etc. What made him give up all that? I at least do not believe that he gave up all that so that he can come to Pakistan, put his life at risk, enter politics and then loot billions of rupees. I dont believe that. And I think any reasonable man/woman does not or should not believe that. This is really important because, I am sure 90% Pakistan will be empty if all the first world countries said–hey we are offering unlimited permanent residency visas—so come Pakistani’s welcome to our lands. I am sure there are several people who are at this moment willing to go out of Pakistan permanently never to return back. But Imran Khan already had that choice, an easy way out. He could have stayed back in Britain. But can you tell me why did he gave up all that?
- Also, his marriage ended up in a divorce not because he did not love his wife or Jemima stopped loving him. It was because he made it clear to Jemima that his life is in Pakistan and he thought it would be very unfair for Jemima to settle down in Pakistan given the vast cultural/social differences. Credit to Jemima that she made an attempt but Imran clearly realized it was causing a lot of stress. Not only that unfortunately by having a Jewish wife (albeit Jemima converted to Islam)-he was accused of being a Jewish agent. How ridiculous is that? It is heart breakingly sad to know that he had to choose between his wife and his country. That means he broke up with his wife although they both were in love with each other. It shows that he is willing to make sacrifices. He also had to leave his children in UK as he did not want to take away his children from their mother.
- And what is this allegation of him being a coward? Is he not living in Pakistan? Is he not roaming around Pakistan knowing that his life could be in danger? Do you see Imran Khan moving in a convoy of 50 cars and jeeps hiding in some car in between? The charge made out against him is that he is in favour of Taliban or he does not criticize them out of fear. First things first I did see quite a few videos where he did criticize them—but unlike other politicians in Pakistan—he was also trying to explain the reasons why Pakistan has been caught up in this whirlpool of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. I really want to ask people here—did Pakistan suffer from these terrorist acts and suicide bombings before 2001 or 9/11? At least I can clearly see a connection between the events of 9/11 and the aftermath effects in Pakistan. Okay radical Islamist elements/ideology may have been present in Pakistan even before 2001—but the swamp from which these terrorist mosquitoes started to prosper was certainly after 2001. Imran Khan wants to drain that swamp–and that swamp is fertile because of the consistent drone attacks in a region where people actually do believe that the state of Pakistan is complicit with America in targeting them.
- And another thing—bravery and cowardice—both these terms need to be properly understood given the time, circumstance, situation and ground reality. Imran Khan once gave an interview to NDTV( an Indian tv channel) where he opened out and said–unfortunately the political/social climate in Pakistan has been so radicalized that people are scared to directly criticize the terrorists. I really do not understand this—how is he being a coward? Why should he willingly put his life in danger by saying things which might endanger his life? He should realize that his life is very important–in the sense that he is the leader. Not to suggest that other Pakistani lives are dispensable–but he is the face of the party and he should do everything to protect himself and his partymen. I really really admire that. He said that he could act all brave by directly criticizing them–but he knows the first murderous hit will be taken by the ordinary PTI workers. He may be safe because he is Imran Khan but what about ordinary PTI workers working at the ground level. Why should he say things knowing that those terrorists will target innocent PTI workers on the ground? And even with all these limitation he does criticize the terrorists but as I said earlier he also tries to reason that. I do honestly believe that there is a connection between Pakistan’s participation in this war of terror, drone attacks and the macabre death dance of suicide bombings in Pakistan.
- Also, I want to ask this question in a direct way. We know where Pakistan is now and what is happening in Pakistan? Do you really believe if Imran Khan becomes the Prime Minister—Pakistan will further sink into abyss? Can anybody please tell me what “WORSE” can happen to Pakistan if he comes to power? Put your hand on your heart and question yourself–at least in terms of honesty and integrity—is Zardari or other politicians better than Imran Khan?
- And what is this issue surrounding political experience? It is a very poor excuse in my opinion. A politician is supposed to be a servant of the public, he simply needs to do what is good for his people. How complicated can it be? A politician needs to be honest, with a clean heart and a desire to serve his people —that is what all a politician needs. What political experience? Experience in looting public money? Experience in mastering the art of corruption? Experience in laughing at the hardship of ordinary Pakistani’s? Every politician has to begin somewhere right? Nobody is born with experience, experience is earned when the politician is given a chance by his people. Imran Khan needs that chance at least once.
GOOD VERSUS BAD
- Last but not the least —I think especially in people in India and Pakistan—we have resigned ourselves to the fact that—NOTHING GOOD CAN HAPPEN TO US–CORRUPTION IS A WAY OF LIFE–CORRUPTION IS OUR COMMON BLOOD GROUP. If an honest man really does want to make a change—-we are surprised, how come such a man come clean out of OUR DRAINAGE AND GUTTER? No, he must also be tainted, he must also be corrupt like us, so better not give him an opportunity. We have all collectively become accustomed to the fact that “YES OUR COUNTRIES CANNOT CHANGE, WE LIVE AND MUST DIE IN CORRUPTION”. So, what is Imran Khan,,,,he is also from Pakistan–so he must also have some secret, ulterior, corrupt motive.
- We live in a time when NEWS means BAD NEWS. A positive thread opened about Pakistan gets very few responses—anything bad gets hundreds of responses. It the nature of the beast I guess.
I AM PROUD OF MYSELF
I want to share my experience as a voter in India. In 2004 a gentleman named JAYA PRAKASH NARAYAN–who was a civil servant/bureaucrat in the Government of Andhra Pradesh entered politics. He was a very highly educated man, reputed for honesty, integrity and incorruptible. He achieved great things as an administrator but he quickly realized that politicians were preventing him from doing greater work. He decided to enter politics.
EVERBODY knew in my state—every single person knew in my state that—yes Jaya Prakash Narayan is an honest man, he is decent, he is educated, he is knowledgeable, he has good intentions–BUT WE WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM BECAUSE ANYWAY HE WILL NOT COME TO POWER. I said WTF. Anyway I not only voted for him in 2008 assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh but I proudly say that he won in my consituency. I ganged up with like minded friends, held meetings, we told ourselves that—we at least educated people must take a clear stand—we have an opportunity to “TAKE THE RIGHT DECISION”. And we did. His party may have lost the elections but we ensured he won. I have the satisfaction of fighting for the right cause which at least allowed me to sleep well at night knowing that I fought with the good against the bad.
I am infinitely proud that I voted for this man and I played a part in helping India get a honest leader. He won the elections and he is doing a good job in his constituency. People laughed at me, mocked me that I was voting for a dead horse. Well the horse is galloping with great speed and I feel I am riding with that horse.
My last point is this–
Cant you see the glint of sincerity, honesty, pain in Imran’s eyes and voice???????
If I were a Pakistani I will vote for Imran Khan. At least please give him one chance.