Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan held an international telethon through which he raised Rs5 billion in funds for the flood-affected people. PHOTO: AFP

What does Imran Khan’s telethon tell us?

It was the overwhelming response from overseas Pakistanis who've always stood by their country through thick and thin.

Kiran Wali September 07, 2022

Pakistan’s current climate crisis is making headlines in the international media for the massive devastation it has caused – and continues to do so – primarily because of global climate change. In these tough times, we also see that Pakistanis across the globe remain at the forefront to donate and help make up for the damages and losses.

In the same spirit, recently we saw an international telethon fundraiser held by Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, which was telecasted live by a few news channels as well. Call it surprising, or amazing, but a mere three-hour long telethon resulted in fundraising more than Rs5 billion, out of which many celebrities, public figures, and overseas Pakistanis also contributed in considerable amounts.

This comes at a time when almost all mainstream political forces of Pakistan have united against Imran and his party, which did not only lead to his ouster as a premier few months ago, but also dragged him into court cases and media trials. It is also pertinent to mention here that Imran has always been immensely targeted by his political opponents, not only for his ‘inability to lead the country’ but also for corruption and dishonesty – charges that have fallen flat after the recent telethon, because it showed that none of the accusations against him have so far affected his popularity. On the contrary, what we have seen is the nation’s absolute trust in Imran which is the prime reason why an amount as huge as five billion were collected in a matter of just a few hours.

Very few personalities have such powerful capabilities to mobilise people and gain their confidence to such an extent that the people ultimately hand over their hard-earned money to them. It only goes to show that the donors know the purpose of their contributions will be fulfilled by those they are donating their money to.

Imran has been labelled as “corrupt, poppet, liar, Taliban Khan, zakat thief”. His opponents have attempted to malign him for various reasons of their own but it did not shake the nation’s trust in him, otherwise we would never have seen the telethon turning into a huge success. Those few hours of fundraising further proved to his supporters that Imran is indeed a true leader and the people’s choice – a leader who was ill-intently removed from his office under the no-confidence motion.

The on-going foreign funding case against Imran and his party – whereby they are accused of receiving illegal funds – is a charge that still needs to be proved wrong by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Although his opponents have tried their best to capitalise on this case and declare him a dishonest political figure, it has not convinced the masses to stop supporting him.

One noteworthy aspect with regard to the telethon was the overwhelming response received from overseas Pakistanis who have always stood by their country through thick and thin, and this time wasn’t any different either. Despite the fact that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has made all efforts to keep the overseas Pakistanis from getting voting rights in Pakistan’s general elections, they did not shy away from helping their country in this difficult time. Why? Because it was Imran asking them to donate for the flood-affected victims. For them, with Imran’s name comes the guarantee that their money will remain in safe and able hands.

I myself being an overseas Pakistani can testify. After having talked to many Pakistanis here in Australia, it is safe to say most Pakistanis abroad absolutely love Imran, as they say:

“Khan sahab ke liye to kuch bhi karenge!”

(We will do anything to support Khan!)

When I ask overseas Pakistanis why they look up to Imran more than any other leader in Pakistan’s recent history, the answer for many is simple: he has a clean background with no history of looting the country or misusing his power and position to accumulate private wealth and assets. These are the same reasons why many Pakistanis did not ever exercise their right to vote until they had Imran standing as a promising option, after seeing years of dynastic politicians taking their turns to come to power only to use the power to their benefits.

Even today, as Imran is mockingly called a “beggar”, he stands tall against all odds as he asks his people to donate for the sake of humanity, and succeeds in doing so.


Kiran Wali

A business graduate, content creator, and a newly turned overseas Pakistani. She tweets @KIRANW_.



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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