Let us not quibble about how many people turned out for Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) jalsa at Lahore; let us just say that it was one of the big gatherings at Minto Park. Let us also not light upon the fact that the performance of pop singers at the jalsa pulled more people to it than would have been the case otherwise.
Congratulations are due to Imran Khan and to the organisers. I have only seen some of the proceedings on YouTube but it is clear that a lot that goes wrong in such events, and I have been to many over the last three decades (some bigger than this one), did not go wrong here. So, well done PTI.
And now for the beef. I know Imran to be a decent man; he was one of the world’s outstanding sportsmen who brought this country honour; he set up a hospital that can be compared with the best in the world; and more than anything else he has proved that he is popular among a section of our people, which popularity may grow to propel him into power.
It did not behove him then, to say some quite slanderous and malicious things at his jalsa. For one, to so blatantly falsify the number of deaths by suicide in Pakistan (not that even one suicide is acceptable, of course). Imran said 16,000 people had committed suicide in Pakistan during Asif Zardari’s presidency. He, or at least his advisers/speech-writers, should have known that the figure of 16,000 suicides this year was erroneously given in the Urdu version of an October 26 report of the HRCP, which the organisation corrected the very next day, i.e., October 27, saying the actual figure was about 1,600.
Then he goes and badmouths our ambassador to the United States, let us not be afraid to name him, Husain Haqqani, by calling him the US ambassador to the US, i.e. a US stooge. As if this was not enough, he quotes from a controversial article by someone who has been much talked about in the press and in other public forums in the United States, let us not be afraid to name him either: Mansur Ijaz, saying that Haqqani asked Ijaz to deliver a letter to the Americans from Asif Zardari begging them to save him from Pakistan’s army generals.
Now then, let alone doing a 10-minute internet search and finding out exactly who Mansur Ijaz is, if Imran or his advisers had thought about this matter for 10 seconds before putting it in his speech, it would have become clear even to them that there was something very, very wrong with this storyline. If Haqqani is a US stooge, why would he need someone like Ijaz to deliver Zardari’s letter to the Americans? Elementary what, Imran?
As for Ijaz, I will only quote from the Roanoke Times, a newspaper out of Virginia. On December 26, 2001, President Clinton’s former national security adviser, Samuel ‘Sandy’ Berger, called Ijaz’s allegations “ludicrous and irresponsible”, when Ijaz said that the Clinton administration had ignored several offers from the Sudanese government to share intelligence on Osama bin Laden.
According to the same paper, Susan Rice, who served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 1997 to 2000, and is now the US ambassador to the UN, said about Ijaz’s claims that the “White House was not looking for foreign policy assistance from Ijaz”, “We did not need, nor would it have been appropriate for us to use a private citizen... ”.
In short, what Imran said reflects extremely poorly on him as a politician who sees himself as the great hope for this country, and who trashes other politicians with such utter contempt. It shows more than anything else a cavalier attitude towards serious matters, banking on one’s adoring followers swallowing it all without question. It also shows a certain conceit and arrogance: hardly endearing qualities.
Imran must also learn to be discreet about his interlocutions with representatives of foreign powers and not disclose what was discussed with them such as he did recently regarding his China trip. When asked if the Chinese had expressed concern about the security situation in Xinjiang, Imran said that they were more worried about the security situation in Pakistan.
Whilst he was scoring a point against the federal government by hinting that the Chinese did not have much faith in it, this is another loose and careless shot for we well know that the Chinese are an extremely sagacious people who would never suggest to a visiting wannabe ‘leader’ that they were worried about the security situation in Pakistan.
Imran must also see who he is relying on for advice. The fact that he has surrounded himself with people who have a case to answer does not bode well. There is at least one senior office holder of the PTI who is accused of being friendly with a leading sectarian terrorist organisation, and a hawkess-extraordinary who whips out Pakistan’s bums at the drop of a hat as if they can be used, yes, at the drop of a hat.
He must also tell his acolytes to lighten up and not become vulgar and offensive on the social media when he is criticised. Indeed, Imran should warn them to prepare themselves for there is far worse to come, surely. About what, you say? You name it: from ball tampering to... ! For if you open up the heavy guns on others they will open up the heavy guns on you and many, many skeletons will come marching out of the closets. But no big deal: if you play with the big boys you must become a big boy.
Meanwhile, I wonder what the Ghairat Brigades are saying about the three cricketing cheats. Are the charges of spot-fixing a CIA/RAW/Mossad/Burger King/Martian conspiracy even now?
P.S. I would ask Imran’s handlers to study US presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s meteoric rise, and impending fall....
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2011.