Another Imran Khan article that’s not about Musharraf’s rally. Sorry.

Who’s Imran Khan? The school athlete everyone has a crush on. Who's Musharraf? The bad military guy who drank...

Meiryum Ali January 09, 2012
If Pakistan were a school and voters were the graduating class, then we’d know exactly where Musharraf would fit in.

Musharraf would be the angry guy who sits at the front of each class and has a problem with things no one cares about, like the colour of the chalk the teacher uses. He would be a suck-up to everyone but his peers, and be like the head boy or prefect who gets the job done, but really, does anyone like him? His dog (his profile picture on Facebook) would probably be a lot more popular than he is.

This was an actual analogy used by an 18-year-old to describe the rally that took place this Sunday. The birthday party that the popular kids don’t go to. Only your friends who’ve known you since Class II show up, and they forget the presents too.

Who’s Imran Khan? The school athlete everyone has a crush on. Literally.

Sorry to think of this in terms of school but it’s just that it’s very hard not to. Because when your phone goes off and it’s someone telling you to vote, and the next thing you know, kids are picking up brand new CNICS and driving licences, it suddenly hits you. You’re part of the game now.

And this game is Facebook, Twitter, school corridors, phone texts, articles linked. I have heard in the last month PTI pick-up lines, PTI/Obama mashes (Yes, we Khan!), and PTI songs, which are not terribly catchy, but are still songs. After brotips, desitips, karachitips, I am now pretty much expecting a PTItips any day now. The Facebook newsfeed is a series of Imran Khan references, so that your cousins abroad have to ask - what is going on there? Do you guys have a life apart from politics?

No, we just discovered one, sad as that is. So here we are now: two weeks ago all anyone could say was the Imran Khan rally, how they saw your mumani on TV, and oh em gee, you actually attended? Yes, yes I did. I had cake and samosay, and I picked up an neon orange jacket that says INSAF on the back that irritates my parents to no end, because they bought something I will never wear again, except for the sake of having been at the rally. Yes, I was so “kewl”, I was with the heartbeat of Karachi. This is not something I will repeat for Musharraf.

Musharraf is a man no one my age really knows about. We were too young to witness his reforms (aged six, seven, ten?) and then too impressionable at 14 when the lawyers movement broke out (Lawyers throwing stones? LUMS students protesting? Definite bad guy).

He was in the army. And he drank - why do kids pick up such random facts? Oh, and he didn’t like that guy, what’s that guy’s name, the one only our parents remember - Nawaz Sharif. The Pakistan Studies syllabus was revamped in 2010 to include the politics of the 90s, and for good reason - everyone my age and older are stuck in a time zone that ends at Zia’s plane crash. Excuse us for knowing more about Bhutto’s trial than about why politicians want to put others on trial.

The point of this article then is not about, ahem, “Do the youth of Pakistan like Musharraf or Imran Khan?” It’s about the half-baked political ideas of slightly confused teenagers who are actually going to vote in the next election. Good, bad, frightening? Did you not educate us enough; will we ever take you seriously? Will our political entities be forever attached to a computer and internet connection, instead of the streets?

A teacher once scoffed at us and said:
“At your age, I was protesting outside the press club against Zia.”

The class collectively raised their eyebrows. We knew what she meant: we care, and then yet again, we don’t really look it. But if you want to start a PTItips page and get 20,000 people to like it, you know where we’ll be.

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Meiryum Ali A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Mawali | 12 years ago | Reply Disgraceful!
Twesh Mishra | 12 years ago | Reply Hi, I have been following Pakistan's state of affairs for quite sometime now, I believe that it is absolutely preposterous to create an illusion for the Pakistani populace or for that reason any populace of and idealistic scenario within one electoral term would be suffice to eradicate deeply ingrained socio-political problems. The youth of around the world seems to have been over taken by the idea of uprising to the extent of protesting without questioning. I really liked your write up, you masked relevant realities under the aegis of humor. Hats off.
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