Imran Khan: All things to all people…

Imran Khan is often depicted as a tiger. But tigers are bold and dangerous. They are fierce and independent. Imran Khan isn’t really any of these things. Salmaan Taseer was bold and dangerous. Imran Khan tells people what they want to hear. He’s not fierce and independent, either. Benazir Bhutto was fierce and independent. Imran Khan has, throughout his political history, always sided with the powerful – Gen Zia, Gen Musharraf, religious parties, the military. A more fitting animal to represent Imran Khan would really be the chameleon – a small creature that changes what it looks like to match whatever it’s near.

The popular belief is that Imran Khan is boldly challenging the status quo. According to news reports, though, Imran Khan is choosing what to say based on surveys. In other words, he asks people what they want to hear, and then he turns around and repeats it to them. On the one hand, there’s something to be said for listening to what the people are saying, and I give that to him. It’s about time somebody listened. On the other hand, real leadership means that sometimes you have to tell people unpleasant truths. Watching interviews with Imran Khan is like watching rhetorical gymnastics. He says that the war on terror has become viewed as a war on Islam, but when pressed on whether that’s true or just jihadi propaganda, he repeats himself saying that this is how it is viewed. One minute, he’s talking about how the war on terror is mishandled, but when asked to condemn terrorism, he gets visibly uncomfortable and offers, instead, general condemnation of “anyone who is involved in terrorism”. When asked about Hafiz Saeed, he starts talking about target killings in Karachi.

We are also told that PTI is against the status quo, which raises the obvious question how PTI can be against the status quo when it is swelling with members of the status quo? Shah Mehmood Qureshi is a lot of things – some good, some bad. But it is undeniable that one of them is status quo. For example, how does PTI reconcile supporters with posters praising Aafia Siddiqui while SMQ sits in the number two seat? In a recent episode of Out of Bounds show, Faisal Qureshi asked Dr Awab about these issues, and its well worth a watch:

As for Imran Khan’s own ideas, what are they? Most recently, he claims he wants to transform Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state. Sounds great, until someone asks the obvious question – what’s an Islamic welfare state? S. Iftikhar Murshed, publisher of Criterion quarterly, wondered this himself recently. He quotes the Munir Report of 1954 which found that even the Ulema could not agree on what this is supposed to mean.

The hollowness of the demand for an Islamic state was laid bare in the 387-page Munir Report of 1954. This was the outcome of the inquiry conducted by Justice Muhammad Munir and Justice M R Kayani into the anti-Ahmedi disturbances in Lahore in 1953. It asks: “What is then the Islamic state of which everybody talks about but nobody thinks?…The ulema were divided in their opinions when they were asked to cite some precedent of an Islamic state in Muslim history.”

Imran Khan has repeatedly pointed to Britain (in his book) and Scandanavia (in speeches) as examples of an Islamic welfare state. This raises another obvious problem – neither Britain, Denmark, Norway nor Sweden are Islamic. They are all, however, secular liberal democracies with strong social welfare programmes. Is this what Imran Khan wants Pakistan to be? If so, it would seem that religion has nothing to do with the answer.

I can’t help but suspect that I’m asking the wrong question. Perhaps Khan saheb is not asking “how do we make Pakistan into Denmark”, but “how do I get elected”. The answer to the second question could very well include, “tell liberals that you want a social welfare state, but say it will be Islamic to please the religious parties”. All things to all people.

This is one of my biggest concerns about Imran Khan. When you try to be all things to all people, you end up standing for nothing.

4 thoughts on “Imran Khan: All things to all people…

  1. You may be right in your vision, but at least not as corrupted person as others are!
    we have seen , tested all politicians twice or thrice. but i dont think that they did their best. At least Imran khan talks against US. present government and previous has given us the gift of trillions of loans from IMF.
    Why we are not signing the contract with IRAN?
    we dont we make strong trade with China? why dont we take electricity at cheap rate from China?
    this why because US gets angry!!
    I think we should give him a chance at least!
    because we tried all other parties many times and also seen the result.
    And remember, If your leader is corrupt, your nation is corrupt, if your leader is honest your nation is honest.

    This what I think……

  2. I’m Sorry, but have you ever heard of a ‘moderate’?
    Because it seems to me that in ur eyes the world is split in either the liberals or the conservatives.

    Its shocking that a politically astute person like yourself can be so blind. I mean seriously? Most people are moderates. But sadly vote banks are filled by taking sides. Imran Khan doesnt take that side, and that is truly bold and dangerous.

    Btw, the liberals in Pakistan are a joke:P They arent really liberals. Its just another version of Islam. It was a liberal who declared Qadianis Non-Muslims(ZAB) And recently most liberals on the media were also busy attacking Veena Malik.

  3. Why you are so negative all the time?Anything against terrorist americans,irritates you.USA,is enemy Number 1 of Pakistan and Muslims,but still you love them.Are you a paid agent of cia,mossad and raw?It looks like that.

  4. Pingback: Imran Khan’s Double-Speak « New Pakistan

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