Imran Khan Cult Ignores Common Sense at Pakistan’s Peril

Former prime minister Imran Khan and his cult-like following may continue to believe that Khan is the solution for all of Pakistan’s problems. However, as academic, columnist, and scientist, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy recently wrote, “Khan’s agenda for Pakistan violates commonsense.”

 

Hoodbhoy recalls that in 2012 “a tsunami of self-delusion swept across Pakistan. A self-styled engineer by the name of Agha Waqar Pathan claimed creating a ‘water kit’ allowing cars to run solely on plain water. Once mass produced, Pakistan’s problems would miraculously disappear.

Political leaders, media anchors, and most Pakistani scientists rushed to endorse the water car.”

 

According to Hoodbhoy, in 2022 “another kind of water car is also making perfect sense to millions. Expertly piloted before cheering crowds by ex-PM Imran Khan, a yet bigger miracle is being sold at rally after rally. Khan says he will resuscitate a country gasping for breath. Imperial America conspired with corrupt local politicos and generals to remove him as PM and install an “imported” government. Put me back into the saddle, says Khan, and all will be well again.”

 

However, Khan’s solutions are as incredulous as the water-kit.

 

When it comes to the economy, Khan’s solution comprises “Twisting the arms of crooked PDM politicians will force them into repatriating looted billions and trillions; Pakistan will teach IMF a lesson by refusing to accept any conditionality-based loan; expat PTI voters will shore up the falling rupee by sending home bales stuffed with dollars; Putin is so grateful to Khan for being in Moscow just as the Ukrainian operation started that he will supply Pakistan endless super cheap oil and gas; and millions of Westerners will flock to Pakistan’s tourist havens for spending their wealth there.”

 

When it comes to international affairs, Khan argues “Protecting Islam from insult will be the central plank of Pakistan’s foreign policy; France — and the French ambassador to Pakistan — will tremble each time some crazy Parisian goes on a blasphemy binge; bolstering Afghanistan’s Taliban government will become paramount notwithstanding its quiet approval of TTP’s terrorism; and Narendra Modi will receive such stiff tongue lashing that India will quit Kashmir. Indians will finally understand why Khan had Kashmir Highway renamed Srinagar Highway.”

 

In the field of governance, for Khan “There can be only one Great Leader and, as in North Korea, allegiance to him is the highest virtue. Those dissenting with Khan commit ‘shirk’, says Khan, a view confounding even his closest supporters. All secondary public figures — like former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar — perforce must be diminutive ones. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution providing provinces a measure of fiscal autonomy must be dumped.”

 

Regarding moral revival, Khan argues that “Pakistan’s moral fabric is badly torn with girls immodestly dressed and boys wearing knee-less jeans and inverted baseball caps. Khan took the first step towards changing this in October 2021 when he created an authority tasked with guarding public morality by preventing vice and promoting virtue in a manner that it shall determine.”

 

Khan’s solution when it comes to education is: “As is well-known, Khan is no science buff. Therefore, Pakistani kids will not be stressed with excessive math and science. The stuff is too difficult, not really needed, and must be packaged in readily memorisable morsels digestible by madressah students. Instead, a hefty dose of Khan’s SNC will make every boy dream of becoming a horse-mounted Ertugrul Ghazi with sword ready in hand. Research into Sufism at Al Qadir University will, in Khan’s words, “groom our youth as leaders”.”

 

Hoodbhoy concludes by noting, “PTI’s formula is equally simple with slightly altered ingredients: countering Islamophobia should be Pakistan’s top priority; India is out to destroy Pakistan; America is eternally conspiring against Muslims; and corruption explains Pakistan’s failures. Restore Khan to his throne and all will be well. This cost-free, readymade solution requires minimal use of the cerebellum and no change of national habits. Unfortunately, those enchanted by Khan’s narrative miss what’s crucial. Real prosperity comes from harnessing science and technology and civilised behaviour demands respecting even those one disagrees with. Chasing phantoms of the past doesn’t bring progress. For positive change, clear thinking and hard work is needed.”

Author: Syed Hussainy

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