In the entire interview Imran could be seen getting defensive, and yet he remained unable to prove any single point in favour of PTI’s performance in K-P. PHOTO: BBC

Why Imran Khan’s HARDtalk interview would make every Pakistani cringe

Imran was helpless & flustered, while Badawi successfully highlighted that Imran, PTI are only limited to sloganeering

Imad Zafar June 17, 2018
Leaders and polished politicians are frequently called masters of the art of spin. They use this ‘spin doctrine’ in debates and interviews to satisfy the viewers, all the while deflecting from the real questions being asked. Similarly, even second-tier politicians know that defensive body language like hand-wringing, arms folded across the chest, clenched fists or narrowed eyes should be avoided during interviews, so as to seem collected in their responses.

But perhaps Imran Khan is not a seasoned politician yet, or he simply is not good at being asked critical questions.

His recent interview to Zeinab Badawi, the host of the famous BBC show HARDtalk, proves this statement. Imran – the darling of the Pakistani media who is not accustomed to giving a genuine interview loaded with critical questions – seemed helpless during the show. On the other hand, Badawi was successful in highlighting that Imran and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are only limited to sloganeering.

To start off, Imran was asked why he is sure of his electoral win in the upcoming elections, as recent surveys still show the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ahead of the PTI and expected to win. He simply responded that surveys are never an accurate indicator for anyone winning the polls.

Fair enough.

However, while answering a question later regarding his party’s government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Imran referred to surveys which showed his party’s popularity in K-P – the same surveys which he earlier suggested offer no indication of reality on the ground.

This was not a one-off event; Imran appeared rather clueless in the entire interview. When Badawi suggested PTI’s manifesto is not different from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or the PML-N, Imran had no logical argument to counter that. On being questioned regarding missing persons and human rights violations, Imran sounded ill-informed. Likewise, on a question asking why he lives in a 300-acre luxurious house and talks about the slums of Pakistan, Imran had no answer other than saying he acquired the Bani Gala through white money.

The most interesting part of the entire interview, however, was to see a flustered Imran struggle with answering Badawi’s questions regarding PTI’s performance in K-P. Quoting PPP leader Khursheed Shah’s statement, which questioned how a party that could not create a few thousand jobs in K-P during its five-year tenure would create 10 million jobs in the whole country, Badawi asked Imran to comment. Imran’s response – that being his political opponent Khursheed has to pass such remarks – was disheartening to watch.

After prompting him to talk about his party’s performance in K-P, Badawi asked Imran how many hospitals and schools were constructed, or clean drinking facilities provided during PTI’s tenure in K-P, if any at all. Imran’s response was that his party is “very popular” in K-P and will win the elections once again. He did his best to avoid answering the question, but as this was a BBC show, there was no hope of any pressure on the channel to not ask such “tough” questions.

This interview proved what some people in the country, particularly those who live in the province, have known for a while – PTI has nothing considerable to show for its performance in K-P. Imran may have celebrity charm in his favour and millions of devoted fans, but politics is not all about charm or blind followers. To get votes, one has to be able to claim some progress, and Imran has failed miserably on that front.

During PTI’s five years in government, Imran was busy bashing the PML-N and PPP and showing his love for street agitation. While his dharnas wasted the time, energy and resources of our nation, all to try and topple the PML-N government, it is evident through this interview that nothing was being done in K-P. After all, Imran could not claim having built a single university, or any significant improvement in hospitals, structural reforms, or infrastructural projects. His lack of response makes one doubt the veracity of the billion tsunami project, as well as the 350 dams that have allegedly been built but do not seem to exist.

In the entire interview, Imran could be seen getting defensive, and yet he remained unable to prove any single point in favour of PTI’s performance in K-P. On the contrary, his diversions from the questions and his U-turns from positions stated by him earlier on in the conversation (such as his contradictory response on the surveys), all showed that Imran still has a long way to go to learn the art of speaking rationally.

Perhaps Imran needs to realise he cannot grow in stature simply by declaring all his opponents to be dwarfs incapable of governing the country, especially when he cannot even govern a province. This interview has proved that apart from those who blindly follow him, the world has a clear view of the dismal performance the PTI has delivered thus far. Instead of simply making tall claims, it’s time for Mr Khan to do some real work.
Imad Zafar
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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Israr Khan | 1 year ago | Reply | Recommend imad a ppp jiyala was badly hurt when IK did not take khusheed's comments seriously and that too was a wrong comment, how can BBC come unprepared .. IK created 40,000 new jobs for teachers and about 15000 green jobs that again i know as they are getting paid helping growing trees, new forest guards and plant growers are employed ... its sad when an aweeen shaween anchors come with bbc or cnn name not taking top leaders of under developed countries seriously ... this lady should have come prepared and listen to these questions IK would have realised that she has not done any research. Lastly Imad and ppl like u there are only two things u have to look in ur leader and if u can find them in any other leader other than IMRAN KHAN then please vote them :) HONEST AND SENSITIVE honest because we trust him with our money and he spends them exactly how he said he will, on poors on patients and needy and he has delivered the proves are standing tall in lahore mianwali and peshawar with one under construction in karachi 2nd is SENSITIVE u know y we like IK ? because he feels our pain he feels he opens his heart out he shares his experiences and he comes fw to help ppl hurt .. he feels our pain that is what i need in my leader ...
Sami Ullah | 2 years ago | Reply | Recommend and look mr writer...he is a great player...we all know that...a player a game changer....who has passion...passion for winning...sportsmanship...courage...leadership...tolerance....and a game changer...he changed the game we dont want...any more politicians..or military rulers here....i work in dhq hospital hangu...but in tge past worked in khyber teaching and lady reading hospital ....and now when i see them the services they provide..and the services we provide...are extraordinary...let me give you an uncle had heart attack and in 2004..i was searching like a mad man across different get inj streptokinase..( i was a med student in khyber med college).and i got it in back...and look in hangu a category c hospital....far below the standards of kohat dhq hospital..we provide that rs 5000 injection for free...
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