Imran Khan and the MQM: Similar yet distant

What is Imran Khan's argument with MQM all about, when his political ideology is very similar to it?

Syed Ali November 21, 2010
Imran Khan is well known for his work in the development sector. He is also a national sports hero and hopes to bring reforms that will change the status quo and bring progress and prosperity in Pakistan by doing away with the corrupt and feudal controlled system.

Khan leads a pro-democracy center-right political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf or "Pakistan's Movement for Justice"  – justice, which is said to be the main agenda for reform. He offers an ideology which is very similar to the center-left political parties, but he appears more interested in educated professionals, who are self-made and renowned international figures in their respective fields (like he was).

Good intentions but misguided actions

Khan would have individuals running the country as a non-profit charity organisation, where well known personalities with sound financial backgrounds work as volunteers. PTI also offers patriotism and aims to improve the national image with 'made in Pakistan' achievements, with the final vision of bringing people of this nation and those in the First World on a par.

There is no doubt his intentions for Pakistan's success are pure, but so far he has not been able to prove his worth in national politics. And it has been 15 years already. The only exception is when he won a National Assembly seat from his hometown in elections during General Musharraf's tenure. Khan let go of the seat after five years in protest against the president's office and the uniform. After being influenced by a religious party he boycotted the contest in 2008, as he felt a dictator would not be able to bring democracy under his rule. But this did not stop him form fielding candidates in by-elections throughout Punjab, held under the government that was elected during the reign of a Musharraf. Despite that, he continues to highlight the similarities between a dictator and the democratic president of today.

Most Pakistanis who support him are young or female. That is primarily because he is the most good looking male politician around, and a successful cricketer who made it to the Hall of Fame with his personal achievements. Pakistan's population and demographics are in his favour, if we categorise with numbers, then in all fairness his following should be well above 2/3rd of the total population of Pakistan.

Khan also claims he has never voted for elections in his life, except for his own seat in 2002 as he had always harboured doubts about the electoral process in the country.

Imran Khan’s stand against the MQM

What caught my attention was that Khan continued to reiterate that he does not see an alliance with MQM even though his movement is following the same goals. He believes that MQM is a 'terrorist organisation'  and perhaps, he feels, not up to his level of politics.

In 2009, when Khan had gone through a minor medical procedure at his hospital, I remember MQM Punjab's senior members and the coordination committee members had paid a visit to Khan to inquire about his health. He remains upset with the MQM because they had filed a disqualification reference against him when he was an assembly member. This was after Khan had vowed to have an MQM leader arrested in the UK within three months, extradited to Pakistan and tried for charges.

Calling a national political party that holds the mandate of millions 'terrorists', is unjustified. Would his statement of calling MQM 'deshatgard' mean he rejects the voters of MQM as thugs and militants, who are from the middle class and working to provide Pakistan 68 per cent revenue and make up to 25 per cent of the GDP but only because the majority in Karachi votes for the MQM.

Hypocritical arguments

I find it very strange that Khan is ready to pursue peace talks with the Taliban, who are known to the world as terrorists, but is not willing to meet the MQM leaders from a center-left progressive political movement similar to his own. He justifies this by saying that the US too is willing to negotiate with the Taliban, without realising that the Afghan Taliban are fighting foreigners and the Pakistani Taliban are killing their own people.
Syed Ali A businessman who writes on politics and civic issues. He completed his masters in business administration from Boston University. He tweets @abidifactor.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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