Kaptaan comes of age

Published: October 31, 2011
The writer is editor of The Express Tribune Magazine 

The writer is editor of The Express Tribune Magazine zarrar.khuhro@tribune.com.pk

Do you hear that screeching sound? It’s the sound of countless columnists and analysts applying the handbrakes in a desperate attempt to pull a 180 degree turn on Imran Khan. Recycle bins across the country are full to bursting with trashed columns, replete with self-satisfied prose about why the Imran Khan rally failed. It didn’t fail, of course, and not since the Library at Alexandria burned has so much writing disappeared from existence. Others are going to go for the ‘Yes, but…’ option, bravely explaining why the Lahore rally really doesn’t change anything. I’d do the same but sadly my creative writing skills just aren’t that good and I don’t like the taste of humble pie.

Imran’s been criticised for being arrogant, but humility isn’t exactly a leadership trait. Go through the list of leaders — both local and global — and you’ll hardly find them to be self-effacing types. Gandhi is an exception of course, but it can be argued that humility was in fact his greatest arrogance. Imran’s also accused of being a one-man show and a cult personality but again, the same can be said of any leader. The PPP of old didn’t win because people were impressed by the crack team they had put together or were wowed by their wonderfully written manifesto. They won because of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s spellbinding personality. It is that personality, and the cult it engendered, that ensured his daughter’s election and on which the current rulers still rely for their support. Obama didn’t win because the Democrats’ platform was so much superior to the Republicans’, but because something in Obama himself appealed to voters. And, of course, the fact that his predecessor was a blithering idiot — a parallel that applies in Pakistan as well — also helped.

As for the accusation that Imran is being backed by the establishment and is in effect a proxy of the deep state, let’s face the fact that, first of all, the ‘establishment’, contrary to popular belief, is not all powerful and the crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan really didn’t look like undercover spooks to me. Secondly, just about every single politician in Pakistan has been accused of being an establishment proxy or agent or, as the supremely overused phrase goes, a product of dictatorship. As for his programme, that was neatly laid out in the speech. If you were expecting a PowerPoint presentation, then go back to business school.

Then there is the contradictory complaint that he has no real ‘mainstream’ politicians on his side. I say ‘contradictory’ because the same columnists routinely castigate those very politicians for ruining the country. And enough already with the Zohair Toru jokes. At least the lad got out of the armchair favoured by so many analysts and onto the street. If he was guilty of anything, it’s idealism, and it’s idealism, not cynicism, that ultimately changes the fate of nations.

What I saw was a leader who had come of age, who had a message that was current and crisp and spoke not of the accusations of the past, but of hope for the future. Azaan breaks and rock music coexisted peacefully on the same stage and the crowd was disciplined and spontaneous without the need for commissars or professional sloganeers. Contrast that with MQM and PML-N rallies. The MQM crowd, devoted supporters all, had the look of people who have sat down to watch a favourite movie for the hundredth time. The PML-N also seemed hopelessly behind the times. No disrespect to Jalib, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest revolutionary poets of our times, but his words aren’t exactly going to resonate with the youth of today. They love their poems of protest as well, but they want to hear them from Shehzad Roy, not Shahbaz Sharif.

I must confess that I thought choosing a venue like the Minar-e-Pakistan was a massive miscalculation and was all set to write something clever about how dismal the rally was. I stand corrected. Oh and Senator Rashid, I’m still waiting for your resignation.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 01st, 2011. 

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (61)

  • An EHM
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:23PM

    very honest analysis sir


  • An EHM
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:25PM

    but the prejudice will still persist in the supporters of status quo and they will definitely go for “If and Buts”. But my only reply to them is “Jalnay walay ka moun kala”,


  • Salman
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:33PM

    Till yesterday afternoon before Imran Khan jalsa I was confused about him as a leader and hopeless about Pakistan but by God he won my heart and my 100+ family members heart whom I spoke with after Imran Khan speech they all will vote for Imran Khan and for the brighter future of Pakistan.


  • Mirza
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:34PM

    I am no supporter of Imran Khan (especially the lack of progressive elements in it) however, he is much better than the political offsprings of Zia called Sharifs. If Imran does not associate himself with righwing religous groups people of Punjabe would see him as a better alternative to PML-N. Comparing IK to ZAB is apples and oranges. ZAB had made himself popular while representing Pakistan at the UNO and as the youngest man to represent Pakistan at the UN. He devised a revolutionary platform for his socialist PPP and did not align himself with any rightwing parties or mullahs. He created a sharp contrast with the old leaders and Imran Khan has failed to that as yet.


  • do you hear those wails? its the anti-PTI reporters and journalists reading this and hating themselves.

    Zarrar you must take the awesomeness down a notch :D

    Imran Khan for RULER OF THE GALAXY!Recommend

  • Zaid
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:37PM

    Those who are still not recognising PTI as political strength, just deceiving themselves. Its better for them to live with reality and yes PTI and Imran Khan is reality now. Gone the days where we were stamped with Tonga Party.

    Those who still blame that PTI does not have team and how we are going to handle, foreign, economy, education, health, corruption, tax, will again stunned when they will get to know team performance..

    PTI Rocks and our time has come and in fact its time for all Pakistanis who have been suffering from last 64 years. We will make all our endeavours to make it one the greatest nation of the world. Thanks to all PTI supportes, sympathizers, members and workers who worked day and night to take PTI to this stage.

    But the journey has just begun, and there is lot more to do for PTI and above all for Pakistan.


  • CommonSense
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:39PM

    Things right now are rolling in IK’s favor, the only thing he needs to avoid is falling into the Obama-hype-syndrome trap, where Obama rallied the nation on hope, only to fall flat after the election, unable to deliver any of his promises and perform even worse then Bush. That being said, I dunno how many promises IK will manage to keep BUT if at this moment I had to vote for the LEAST WORST option among the parties (esp with PML-N & PPP in the runnin) I would vote him.


  • Nomijoestar
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:40PM

    Great article man!


  • Jehanzeb
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:41PM

    “Azaan breaks and rock music coexisted peacefully.” Now isn’t that something?! A tolerant movement for intolerant times. God Bless!


    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:49PM

    Thank you for the honest analysis and conclusion “I stand corrected. Oh and Senator Rashid, I’m still waiting for your resignation”.
    We will not stop and sit back after this, it is a start of test match between change and corrupt ruling mafia


  • M
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:58PM

    Ik needs to prepare for government he will sweep punjab kp and balichistan sindh is too feudal his team needs a 5 year plan like Malaysia, Pakistan will be the envy of Asia, energy education and security with zero tolerance on corruption,

    If pakistanis can afford half a billion for real estate in Dubai every 6 months then they can afford to turn pakland into the next turkey But bigger better and more powerful


  • Hassan
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:13PM

    Khurro Sb, you have said all that i wanted to say and more Pakistan Zindabaaad!!!!!


  • EyeSpy
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:33PM

    Well just like liberals got the entire war on terror, (esp the on going war in Afghanistan and success of drone attacks) wrong, they underestimated Imran Khan and got his strength wrong. Seriously all these liberal columnists and analysts need to find another trade.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 31, 2011 - 10:44PM

    No that was wrong when Azaan happend with rock music i am not fan of that but Imran
    trully impressive go khan go.


  • Arifq
    Oct 31, 2011 - 11:08PM

    We all need hope and Khan Sahib gives the urban masses that hope, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Khan Sahib represents the re-engineering of politics in Punjab, it’s architects those known as the establishment. Credit goes to Khan sahib also, he has played a test match inning and carried the bat with grace, we may disagree with his pandering to the Taliban but then some would argue it was the correct political position given the popular opinion in Punjab. In a federation politics is domestic, there are three hundred plus seats in the national assembly which need to be contested and won. Khan sahib had a successful stint in his hometown, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar will be a totally different ball game. By the way Khuro Sahib, ZA Bhutto was a brilliant speaker, charismatic leader with a clear political ideology, Khan sahib may have charisma but no political ideology nor can he be called an impressive orator.


  • Parvez
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:04AM

    Nicely put and so true. The PTI rally was yesterday and today the first results – our PM has today deferred the 4% hike in power rates (we will in any case have to pay this tomorrow) and wonder-of-wonders today petrol prices have been reduced by over one rupee. Some will call it coincidence.


  • Ameer
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:09AM

    . As for his programme, that was neatly laid out in the speech. If you were expecting a PowerPoint presentation, then go back to business school.

    :P :P


  • Rehan Aqib
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:10AM

    Great article and appreciate your efforts for honest analysis and love the last line abt Senator Rasheed resignation (that’s not gona happen ever….:D)


  • Karachiite
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:36AM

    Karachi awaits the Kaptaan!!
    Long live IK!!


  • lida
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:42AM

    great article thanksRecommend

  • lida
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:44AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Music with Azaan is every household’s story.
    I have seen Quran with nikah and bhangra the very next second.
    so I dont see anything what I havent.Recommend

  • Bangash
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:49AM

    Establishment is doling out big bucks to media to promote its new agent, Imran Khan.


  • aik pakistani
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:51AM

    brilliant article. before 30th oct. nobody was taking PTI seriously and all of a sudden you see that top headlines on all the major news paper are about PTI and jalsa. Change has come. Imran rocks. PTI zindabad


  • Karachiite
    Nov 1, 2011 - 12:54AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    dude u misunderstood Azaan did not happen with music.


  • Love it
    Nov 1, 2011 - 1:12AM

    God bless!Recommend

  • Iftikhar
    Nov 1, 2011 - 1:20AM

    Great thoughts. The most beautifull thing about yestrday jalsa was Pakistan national Antham when the flag was slowly raising up. It was amazing


  • Jaffar Ali
    Nov 1, 2011 - 2:18AM

    Yes we do have hope and expectations from Imran Khan but so much has gone wrong in our society. Although I am from KPK but believed in MQM slogans but got deceived. Let us hope I am not deceived again


  • Adnan Khan
    Nov 1, 2011 - 2:28AM

    The jalsa is done and the people of Pakistan, from every strata of society who attended in droves, should be applauded for making it a huge success. They provided hope for those unfortunates who could not attend in person and had to settle for the TV coverage.
    However, I am a little perturbed, by what Imran Khan said to reporters at the airport, the morning after. I hope it was a ruse, a political ploy to get the PML to declare their assets. That thing about leaving the door open for a coalition with Nawaz Sharif & Co. Imran Khan would quickly disillusion the base, before it has even had a chance to gather full steam, if he is seen to be making backroom deals of any sort with the current lot of politicians.
    We are looking to throw ALL these bums out on their asses. Clean house. Evil and Good cannot co-exist. Oil and water do not mix. It will be a disaster for PTI if they get scared before elections and start ‘compromising’ on principles in the ‘greater national interest’. They have to believe.
    If they start giving it up even earlier (like now, before people have had a chance to firmly get behind him), I can guarantee that PTI will be D.O.A.


  • Saash
    Nov 1, 2011 - 2:43AM

    It is for honest journalists like you sir and leaders like Imran Khan that we still have hope. For those who say that we need people more pragmatic rather than idealists must know that changes and betterment are results of idealism. Lets not forget that Pakistan also emerged as an idealist state and that the Iqbal’s two nation theory was also laughed upon and called “a poet’s dream”. It doesn’t matter if people call Imran Khan an undercover agent, establishment’s agenda or kaptaan ka khwab, youth will always stand by him !!


  • Shehzad Hameed
    Nov 1, 2011 - 2:48AM

    That just hit the spot. Bravo!


  • meher imran
    Nov 1, 2011 - 4:43AM

    So eloquently put Zarrar…..the Kaptaan has indeed come of age :) Kudos!


  • Farrukh Siddiqui
    Nov 1, 2011 - 5:06AM

    A realistic assessment…. Your editorial made a reference to some people talking about Bhutto born again… this is worth a read too:



  • zia ur rehman
    Nov 1, 2011 - 6:08AM

    Nice article…..Establishment cannot give any thing to IK.. IK is priceless!!!!


  • Truth Seeker
    Nov 1, 2011 - 8:52AM

    Apple vs orange is an interesting anology.But when apple tree’s present fruit is infected and rotten, then orange is a better replacement.
    Bhutto’s emotional (but certainly not a stateman’s like) speech in U.N.O won him accolades in an emotive country; but nobody wants to recall his pledge to fight India for One Thusand Years.
    Bhutto could play with emotions but he destroyed Pakistan’s industry and education system.
    So maybe for a change an orange will make up for that ‘citric’ deficiency.


  • Baqar
    Nov 1, 2011 - 9:12AM

    Its a 360 degree turn


  • khan
    Nov 1, 2011 - 9:30AM

    Lol so is the rest of Pakistan Mr Rashid


  • Saad Duraiz
    Nov 1, 2011 - 9:57AM

    Finally! A breath of fresh air! Bravo Zarrar!


  • Pakistani
    Nov 1, 2011 - 11:20AM

    Wonderful article Mr Zarrar. You nailed it. Well said. And enough with this ridiculing of mummi daddy bachai. At least those mummi daddy’s are coming out for the change and future of Pakistan.


  • The Reader
    Nov 1, 2011 - 11:24AM

    I really enjoyed reading you sir. Your sense of humor is excellent. Coupled with IK support, it was the best article of the day. My day could not have gotten a better start. Thank you.


  • Nov 1, 2011 - 12:29PM

    Game Over, Its Imran Khan’s Turn Now…


  • Asfandyar
    Nov 1, 2011 - 1:00PM

    Amazing article. I just loved the way you wrote this article.


  • irfan niazi
    Nov 1, 2011 - 1:06PM

    senaotor parvez rasheed pml (n) said that there were 16132 chairs in the ralley of imran khan.whole pakistan saw the ralley either live or on t.v .common parvez rashhed its your time to resign


  • waqqas iftikhar
    Nov 1, 2011 - 1:53PM

    now if he’d get the progressive/conservative balance right….he’d be great


  • zehra
    Nov 1, 2011 - 3:02PM

    woohoo i can finally boost of voting for a real leader to my future generations:)
    we are with you imran, continue forward


  • maria
    Nov 1, 2011 - 3:37PM

    give him (IK) one chance. we have no other option.


  • pakistani
    Nov 1, 2011 - 3:45PM

    he will prove him


  • geeko
    Nov 1, 2011 - 6:16PM

    Author: may God bless you, just glad to see that ET doesn’t only publish anti-Imran material : )


  • Jawad U Rahman
    Nov 1, 2011 - 6:42PM

    The writer conveniently ignores the main issue where the Kaptaan needs to come of age. Imran Khan has shown complete lack of leadership with respect to the issue of terrorism and always oversimplifies it as Americans against tribals. In his world view the Alqaeda, the barbarian Taliban, and the foreign militants paralyzing and holding sway over the tribal areas do not exist. How can we trust a man with getting Pakistan out of its troubles when he does not even recognize the situation and has never openly condemned the people perpetuating these atrocities – the Taliban. He never supported the successful military operation in Swat, and if we had his way, Fazlullah and goons would still be roaming the streets of Mingora and harassing people.


  • Fareedi
    Nov 1, 2011 - 8:13PM

    Yes We Khan…!


  • Beghariyiti
    Nov 1, 2011 - 8:22PM

    It was just a gathering of burger bachhas and burger papa and mamas


  • Hamza h Malik
    Nov 1, 2011 - 9:17PM

    on the contrary jawad U Rahman sahib, Imran Khan has been repeatedly emphasizing the issue through the fact that we need to simply sit down with these so called militants and find a common ground, after all if history showed us anything was that no matter how big your armed forces are you can never win guerella warfare and thats even besides the point because after all the brainwashing, self induced hatred that these people have for human kind they are humans themselves and all Imran Khan is hinting on is that we’ve tried everything else now lets take a look at the problem through a different perspective, Maybe that might work instead of antagonizing the situation further by preposterously allowing the massacre of our own country men through the arms of our soldiers. All im saying is give the guy a chance what appeals to me the most about him is the fact that the guy actually cares for his people, His country which on the contrary i honestly cant say for his fellow contenders :)


  • Jawad U Rahman
    Nov 1, 2011 - 10:52PM

    @Hamza h Malik:
    I beg to differ. Recent history has shown military victory over Taliban and Alqaeda is possible (e.g; Swat, Orakzai, and S. Waziristan), AND you have to keep it as an option for dealing with the most murderous barbarians who refuse to accept state’s authority and have killed 35000+ of our compatriots. You only sit down and negotiate with those who lay down their arms and respect the constitution of the country, and you do that from a position of strength, not when they have their swords against our necks. Your leader, Mr. Khan, refuses to acknowledge the difference, and simply paints the murderous barbarian Taliban (who bomb hospitals, mosques, schools, eidgahs, funerals, graveyards) as innocent tribals. He is simply confusing a demoralized country and its youth further into the world of paranoia and conspiracy theories instead of realistically understanding and tackling complex problems like a leader.


  • Raja Islam
    Nov 2, 2011 - 12:50AM

    It is rumored that Imran had a secret meeting in the US with Pervaiz Musharraf. Clearly something is going on. How is it that the PTI has suddenly gotten energized and has the funds to pay for the massive rally and the campaign.


  • Junaid Shah
    Nov 2, 2011 - 10:00AM

    very nicely and neatly jotted down by Zarar. May we be able to see the victory of IK in the same manner as we saw in 1992 when Pakistan came out on victory stand from no where. All prays and hopes to keep us optimistic.


  • Yasmin Malik, Visiting Lecturer, IBA
    Nov 2, 2011 - 10:13AM

    Zarrar – great insight as can be expected from all your articles. Real pleasure to read. I am not a supporter of Mr Khan, but agree that this rally was a game-changer with respect to the dynamics of Pakistani politics.


  • Hina
    Nov 2, 2011 - 10:54AM

    good analysis :)


  • Sania Saeed
    Nov 3, 2011 - 6:28PM

    Imran Khan does not have a magic lamp to change the entire fabric of the country overnight. It is sheer non sense to expect that Imran Khan will turn upside down in one day and there will be prosperity all around. If one could remember people deemed so before restoration of CJP that if Iftikhar Chaudhry is restored things will suddenly change in eye blinking time but what happened. Imran Khan is not Jinnah, Liaqut, or ZAB; even these leaders could not change the plight of the country. It is not a one man show to rule the country and bring it to prosperity while keeping the defense expenses and general power intact. He has no program to deal with this and religious fanatics. In fact he is supported by both the generals and fanatics. Where is his team of politicians and technocrats to win on their own? Or he is going to depend upon the supporters of Mush like PML-Q by another name. The youth in America had great hopes for a “change” in the last election. However, they are disappointed to see that one man show cannot change the old system. I did tell all my friends and family about Obama’s election and later disappointment.


  • Talat Haque
    Nov 3, 2011 - 8:49PM

    Well written ………. maybe well intentioned ……….. will it end well? I wonder!


  • Citizen X
    Nov 4, 2011 - 8:40PM

    @Jawad U Rahman:
    “Recent history has shown military victory over Taliban and Alqaeda is possible (e.g; Swat, Orakzai, and S. Waziristan)”

    Please get your facts straight. There has been no military victory, that’s the nature of guerella warfare. The army in these area are holding their positions, once they leave these position the militants will come back. So where is the victory?

    Secondly 35,000 people have been killed by drones not by suicide bombings.



  • Jawad U Rehman
    Nov 5, 2011 - 7:30AM

    @Citizen X:
    Really? 35000 people killed by drone attacks and not suicide bombings? I rest my case as to what Imran Khan’s simplistic world view can do to his followers. This sense of denial and paranoia can only be further nourished by Imran Khan if we think that suicide bombings and their perpetrators are merely the innocent victims/relatives of drone attacks.


  • Oz
    Nov 17, 2011 - 9:00PM

    Jinnah was a burger too btw


More in Pakistan