The rights and wrongs of Imran Khan's politics

Khan’s promise of guaranteed peace within 90 days if in power is utter rubbish and misleading.

Usman Asif January 07, 2012
With the Arab Spring sweeping  away dictators world over, Pakistanis too are looking for a revolution to get rid of its democratically elected government. Interestingly, they have found new hope in the Niazi from Mianwali. 

Former cricketer turned philanthropist turned politician, Imran Khan, is probably the most popular politician in Pakistan today. While Pakistan will never get its Arab Spring, a change in the political landscape is definitely a looming reality.

Previously naive Khan has learnt some vital lessons from his mistakes, and has started to mature. He is careful to not criticize the military and its top brass - apparently he has learnt from his criticism of the last military dictator. The kaptaan has even recruited many of his senior party members from the ranks of army, navy, and air force. His party apparatus also seems to be represented in all urban cities all across the nation; not many parties have that wide an appeal.

However, support for Khan should not be blind. Most of our young supporters, many of whom will vote for the first time, accept every policy of the PTI as a good one. Khan has been wrong in the past and he will make mistakes in the future. Pakistan doesn't need any messiahs, it needs humble and strong leaders. But in order to support the cricket hero, voters should realize the impact of his policies and his political rhetoric.

Corruption: Throughout the history of his party, the PTI has been clear on the issue of fighting rampant corruption. Khan has become a powerful symbol of the anti-corruption movement in the minds of the people. He should, thus, not lose this noble image by recruiting opportunistic people who are eager to earn dimes.

Bureaucracy: PTI has also been vocal about cutting down the overwhelming bureaucracy. According to the International Crisis Group, the Pakistani bureaucracy numbers four million individuals, and the need of the day is much lower. Good initiative by Khan, but the process of reducing bureaucracy should be slow and careful. This should be done so that the Pakistan Civil Services does not put up resistance, and so that the unemployment rate does not sky-rocket.

Education: Another good clause Imran Khan is focussing on is to increase the funds allocated to education and health sectors. Today only two% of the GDP is allocated to education. In some provinces only 60% of the allocated funds are used. The legacy from Zia's era (1977-1988) on the school curriculum which is filled with hate against the minorities should also be of major interest.

Taxation: Pakistan’s tax to GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world (hovering around nine% annually). The majority of revenue is gathered from the middle class, the business community, and from the bureaucrats who receive official salaries. PTI has been vocal on its demand to reform the tax system in order to let all segments of the society to pay up. Good signals, and probably the important business community will join ranks if it is counseled.

Now to address some of Mr Khan’s policies which might backfire, if he comes to power.

Saying no to aid: Imran Khan has sometimes, in heated debates, claimed that Pakistan is self-sufficient and does not need loans from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or any foreign country if its corruption can be brought to zero. Even the most developed countries have some corrupt officials. Khan should, thus, focus on giving clear cut visions of a transparent democracy instead of labeling all his opponents corrupt. At the end of the day, he too is a politician.

Pak-US relations: The kaptaan keeps chanting friends not masters. What he should realise is that beggars cannot be choosers. We cannot deceive our allies and claim respect at the same time. Had Pakistan done its job, in keeping its territory clean of terrorists, then drones, CIA contractors, and NAVY Seals would not be in Pakistan now. Sad but true.

Terrorism: Regarding the security situation in Pakistan, Khan has suggested dialogue and development to counter extremism. While this is a good starting point, Khan would be wise not to waste time on dialogue with forces that are at war with the state and its people. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other outfits in the tribal areas have several times struck deals with Islamabad and Rawalpindi (GHQ) but each time the ceasefire is used to take advantages. Pakistan seriously needs one committed army, without any double deals, one committed government without any risk of being unpopular, and one united people committed to protect the survivor of the nation. Khan’s promise of guaranteed peace within 90 days if in power is utter rubbish and misleading.

Some believe PTI is supported by Pakistani intelligence just the way Nawaz Sharif was in the late 90s. For the sake of democracy and Pakistan’s prosperity, let’s hope this connection doesn't impact Khan’s work for reform in the future. Civilians should control the military, not the other way around.

PTI needs to convert the support into votes, because many have come before him with reasonable agendas, but have always lost support during elections.
Usman Asif Norwegian born of Pakistani descent, writes on politics, society and religion. He blogs at He tweets @UsmanBaghi.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Etezaz Ahmad | 11 years ago | Reply As we all know that our country Pakistan is already at the verge of disaster due to corrupt and incompetent leadership.Our country Pakistan is having great potential especially the youth of Pakistan, this potential can be utilized in a appropriate way by the platform provided by PTI and competent and brave leadership of Imran Khan.We should give him a chance to express himself and we should be an optimist besides critisizing him because here is a great chance for we have tested all the political parties.May Allah put our country on the path of progress!!!!
Hussain | 11 years ago | Reply To all those who apparently have factious views about Imran Khan & his leadership lemme enlighten you all with merely a few points which shall vindicate Khan's qualities & the fact that his leadership skills remain unsurpassed despite naive & foolish people's nonsensical allegations on him. Firstly, people are never contented & they envy other's when they see them achieving triumph & success. There were critiques back in '92 & there are critiques in this era too & every time that Khan has been criticized by the people, he has in fact achieved victory. For instance the winning of the worldcup in '92 despite the persistent criticism of the people. He was very well determined to win the game & he very well did it & that's not it.. he dreamed of establishing a free cancer hospital for all the masses in general & the people of Pakistan in particular to which again the same group of envious people opposed & claimed it to be 'a next to impossible thought,' however khan once again proved the fact that when he's determined to do something NO ONE except God has the uncanny ability to obstruct him or transgress him in anyway. The Shaukat Khanum hospital serves as the greatest example of humanity today & numerous patients have been treated free of cost, thanks to our great leader Imran Khan. Furthermore, another great achievement of our great leader is the Namal College in Mianwali which is associated with the university of Bradford & it serves as a perfect educational institute for both the rural males & females. The critiques this time came up with a new form of opposition but the same old plot ie: establishing a college is not as easy as it seems & that Mr.Khan will apparently loose millions of rupees for that matter. However needless to say we all know how successfully the project was established & is functioning till today. Every time these groups of incompetent dim-wits invoke their 'ill-researched allegations' on Khan, apparently Khan always sweeps through it & this is not rhetorical neither just a statement by a die hard PTI fan, its a proved & very well vindicated & justified assertion based upon facts. Adding to this i'd like to catalog another significant point ie: Khan & his policies of reconciliation serves in the best of our national interest unlike the strategies of other 'so-called politicians' who are only interested in plundering the nation's wealth. People cant stand the fact that a cricketer-turned-politician is actually so successful in something which he dint expertise in... HAHA! get over this cynical & absurd perspective regarding Khan.. with due respect to all the 'anti-Khan' ladies/gentlemen its high time you accept Imran Khan's distinct character & his flawless leadership skills. We all need to work in collaboration & develop one strong invincible force to fight against the people who are our potential enemies & dividing us all rather then having disputes among ourselves over how good/corrupt a particular party is.. no hard feelings!
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