The Myth of the Honest Kaptaan


Imran Khan entered politics claiming to be Pakistan’s Messiah, and for his supporters he is the only non-dynast, non-corrupt politician Pakistan has ever had. The disclosures from Khan’s close supporters – Aleem Khan and Jehangir Tareen – and the stories about Farah Khan Gogi show that this is and always was false.

As Pervez Hoodbhoy, columnist and physicist recently wrote Imran Khan’s “stint in power” will soon be over but “even if that transpires, the cricket captain and his cult are out to create chaos in the weeks and months ahead. For his devotees, he is the only honest and sincere politician in Pakistan and must be followed.”

Khan built “on his cricketing success and cancer hospital” and his “growing cult swallowed story after story: corruption would end in 90 days; the national treasury would overflow once ‘looted dollars’ stashed by political rivals in secret overseas accounts were brought back. Never again, he said, would Pakistan see the dirty politics of horse trading. Naya Pakistan would overflow with milk and honey — Khan would “commit suicide but never return to the IMF”; foreign policy would be based upon principle rather than expediency; the world’s most sought-after passport would become the green one; and Pakistan would turn into a tourist haven. Jobs would be aplenty, the justice system would be overhauled, civil service officers appointed purely on merit, and the police system revamped. Emigrants, said Khan, would choose Naya Pakistan over Europe and America.”

The reality, as Hoodbhoy points out, was very different: “Just months after winning a bitterly disputed election, Khan’s government requested the IMF for a loan. Critical dependency on the United States was traded for equal dependency upon China. Today, the Pakistani passport is no more desirable than before and the only foreign tourists are intrepid mountain climbers. In January 2022, Transparency International announced that perceptions of corruption had taken a quantum leap. As for looted billions returning: sure, keep dreaming! Meanwhile, the dollar has gone through the roof. Horse-trading politics got a boost once Khan decided that “electable” candidates would be preferred over principled candidates. Although he now admits “mistakes”, the future may be no different. In a desperate move, the Punjab chief minister — apparently chosen by his first lady and praised sky-high by Khan until two weeks ago — has just been thrown under the bus. His replacement, handpicked by Khan himself, was once derided by Khan as a scumbag.”

Finally, “To save his sinking ship, Captain Khan has invented the cock-and-bull story of an American conspiracy to oust him. This, he said, owes to his independent stand on Ukraine. So why hasn’t Narendra Modi — also ambivalent on Russia’s aggression — alleged the same? Khan’s groupies cannot explain why this weeks-old ‘revelation’ came only after a no-confidence motion threatened his survival.”

In conclusion, Hoodbhoy notes, “If Imran Khan is voted out of power today, Pakistan will have won a temporary victory. However, its larger interest demands that all political parties obey rules and the Constitution. They must embrace democracy and pluralism, and cease pursuing narrow interests. Aggression and hate propagation, use of foul language, and denigration of women and religious minorities should have no role to play in politics. Instead, live and let live. Let reason and rationality take precedence over blind faith in leaders.”


Author: Sohail Ahmed