Imran Khan’s Greatest Fear

It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since we met the future of Pakistan in Mr Zohair Toru. That means it was a year ago that I criticised what I saw as the politics of privilege – the attitude that wants a national saviour to fix everything without any effort or compromise. Here’s what I wrote then.

There is no doubt that people are frustrated – and with good reason. But we need to ask whether we’re channeling our frustration into pragmatic solutions or whether we are acting out and throwing tantrums in the hopes that daddy will buy us a new Prado with better features than our old car. We need to ask whether the “Revolution” being peddled by these spoiled middle class kids isn’t the same thing as trashing the car so that daddy will HAVE TO buy them a new one.

When Imran decided to boycott the by polls, I suggested that PTI’s new election strategy is the same as PTI’s old election strategy – boycott the elections and declare yourself the only “pure” party. This allows PTI to remain ‘untested’ because they won’t ever take the pitch. And if Imran Khan has learned nothing from his old failed election strategy, it seems that he’s learned nothing about the reality of governing from newcomers like Javed Hashmi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi either.

Scared Imran KhanSpeaking to reporters on Thursday, Imran Khan said that he will only govern if his party sweeps the elections to get a clear majority. If PPP wins a plurality and forms a coalition, PTI will sit on opposition benches. If PML-N wins a plurality and forms a coalition, PTI will sit on opposition benches. I’m not a gambling man, but I think the odds are pretty much zero that any party is going to sweep to a clear majority. Like his electoral strategy, Imran Khan’s governing strategy pretty much guarantees that PTI will have no say in policy decisions.

Here’s what it looks like to me: Imran Khan is scared.

Imran Khan doesn’t want to contest elections because he’s afraid his tsunami will end up looking like more hot air than tidal wave. He doesn’t want to govern because he doesn’t want to be held accountable when his magic formula for ending corruption in 7 minutes (or whatever ridiculous timeline he’s giving these days) turns out to be a unrealistic as it sounds. He wants to be worshipped as a saviour, not judged as a politician. He wants to stay pure and not get his hands dirty in the unpleasant work of politics. As long as he keeps boycotting elections and boycotting coalitions, he can keep claiming whatever he wants – he’ll never have to prove it.

Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain, Maulana Fazlur Rehman – these are the type of guys everyone loves to hate. But they’re the ones who have the courage to take difficult decisions and face the masses. They don’t agree with each other on much, but they weigh their priorities, make difficult compromises, and try to move the country forward one day at a time. In return, they face insults, rumours, and threats. They sacrifice their privacy and some – like Hussain Ali Yousufi, Imran Farooq, Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto – even sacrifice their lives.

Every day, politicians across the country from across different parties fearlessly and courageously do the work of governing the country. They take their ideas to the people and they ask for their votes. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. They explain their ideas to their colleagues in parliament. Sometimes they get what they want, sometimes they don’t. But they keep working, they keep trying, and they keep pushing the country forward one step at a time. It’s not as glamourous as giving speeches at a rock concert jalsa, but it’s what it takes to really solve the nation’s problems.

Imran Khan has spent almost 20 years complaining without taking the risk of being held accountable for any of his claims. Judging by his strategies, it looks like he plans to sit on the sidelines and complain for 20 years more.

Maybe actually having to be held accountable for something is just too scary for him.

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