A true leader in the making?

Published: January 1, 2012
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The writer is assistant editor at South Asia Magazine. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the views of the publication

The writer is assistant editor at South Asia Magazine. The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the views of the publication

The Karachi rally was undoubtedly a success. Pakistan’s ‘third option’ — ahead of the rally — had confidently stated, “The PTI and the Karachi jalsa will make people forget the Egyptian revolution.” Well, I sure hope that despite the rallies huge turnout this doesn’t happen.

The youth of Egypt, geared with every ounce of revolutionary zeal and having successfully overthrown a 30-year-old dictatorship, finds itself targeted today by the military that it once chanted slogans with. Using tear gas and batons to chase away protestors and dragging girls across the streets, Egyptian security forces have proven that destruction often follows ‘tsunamis’.

Adding fuel to the fire, during the first phase of what is expected to be a cumbersome and complicated threefold election process, Islamist parties in Egypt have comfortably secured leading positions.

In Pakistan, too, religion has always been the opium of the people and a guiding criterion to casting a vote. Imran Khan’s current platform is revolutionary but what is to follow still remains uncertain and ambiguous.

While Khan’s rhetoric of change and hope is mesmerising, where is his agenda? His personal memoir, Pakistan, is as confusing as his politics. He seems to have more in common with orthodox Islamist parties than he does with the liberal educated youth that is quick to rally support for him. Impatient, frustrated and impulsive, Khan illustrates a naive understanding of Pakistani politics, which remains deeply wrapped in bureaucratic red tape, conspiracy theories and civil-military power struggles. At one point, he brutally states, “Never should our army chief ever be allowed to talk directly to the US or any other government” (p.363). I would love to see how that works out for him.

Comfortably alienating liberal journalists, the government, the military and NGOs, Khan claims that all stood idle as Pakistan deteriorated, ultimately leaving “only my party and the religious parties to take a stand” (p.249). Revealing his limited understanding of international affairs, regional politics and the war on terror, Khan proposes opening a “dialogue with various militant groups, as the US has done in Afghanistan, and set a timetable for the withdrawal of our troops from the tribal areas” (p.360). It is ironic that he is ready to take cues from a foreign entity he repeatedly blames for the majority of Pakistan’s problems. For anyone who has mildly followed the war in Afghanistan knows that dialogue has been largely unsuccessful and US troop withdrawal has only mounted pressure. He also fails to address how troop withdrawal will bring an end to extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.

On the other hand, Khan’s humanitarian efforts are admirable. Following the 2010 floods, he “headed a campaign to raise funds for the flood victims and in one month collected two billion rupees” (p.349). South Asia has seen great philanthropists like Abdul Sattar Edhi and Muhammad Yunus who have done more for their country than their respective political leaders. I almost wish Khan had joined that crowd instead.

“I was and always have been an idealist” (p.155); one wonders if behind Khan’s idealistic rhetoric lies a strong, optimistic leader with a serious vision or a young and naive philanthropist, still searching for direction.

Whatever the case is, idealists don’t last long in politics.

Though not ready to write him off just yet, I hope Imran Khan will soon tell us ‘how’ he will solve the problems that beset Pakistan today. My vote matters, just like yours. And I’m not ready to make a mistake.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd,  2012.

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Reader Comments (76)

  • aatif ehsan
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:19PM

    In Pakistab it’s the evolution a correct way to follow. Revolution is something a misnomer.

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  • iAgree
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:21PM

    SO happy that someone finally brought up the Egyptian revolution and what follows after a revolution has taken place. Good Job! Though I think Imran Khan is the best option for the people of Pakistan, I think we as a country should seriously debate over who we pick before blindly following hyped rallies!

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  • antanu
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:32PM

    “…….My vote matters, just like yours. And I’m not ready to make a mistake…..” wow..then go and vote in favour of “tried” and “tested” PPP or PML-N…even if they are selling their country out.Its people like you who makde Pakistan what it is today…refusing to change and still want best of both the worlds.

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  • amin
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:36PM

    firstly he is not talking about a revolution like egypt. its more like getting to power through free and fair election. your welcome to avoid the “mistake” of voting imran but then whoever you vote that is zardar/nawaz, make sure you stand by your decision and spend your life in pakistan NOT in USA or UK. Please dont only let the poor suffer the consequence of your vote.

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  • whatever
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:52PM

    The author is right. IK has time and agian talkd about revolution, so go ahead an deny it and you will fall flat on ur face. there R other political parties too. not just PPP and PML-N. I think the ‘mistake’ is talking about a rational decision and NOT emotions. CHANGE does not only equal PTI. Life is bigger than that. WAKE UP. And if u don’t support PTI doesn;t mean u don’t support change.

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  • asma@london
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:57PM

    Is it not true that Imran Khan’s PTI is a bandwagon that everyone wants to climb on and change Pakistan? The front runners of this party are the same old people, who played with Pakistan through the same old ‘system’ and proved futile! Now in 2012 the liars are raising the slogan of change and revolution….are we all fools? we the ‘awams?’ Are we really so stupid that we just start following blindly?

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  • Ali
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:58PM

    Voting for PTI can’t be a mistake. Even if PTI allows the worst politicians in its party it is still much better than the alternative. Can anyone for once tell me a good reason for voting for PML N or PPP? Should I vote for the PPP based on a blood cult that quite frankly has given nothing to Pakistan? BTW this is not Zardari’s PPP, Bhutto’s PPP had the same cast of characters with similar results.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:03AM

    It’s obvious you’re not really following what Imran Khan has been saying in the media and in his rallies because you ask ‘ what is his agenda ?? ‘. Let me put it another way. You have seen the real agenda’s of the PPP and PML-N and the havoc they have brought this country.
    Don’t you think the PTI deserves to be tried ??

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  • Pakman
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:05AM

    As an American who has experienced the hope and excitement that the promis of change and the “Yes we can!” attitude brings, I will remind you that actions of a leader far out way empty words. I think the writer of this article raises some very valid points. Truly thinking about who you choose as your leader should be carefully thought out. We need more people asking hard questions!

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  • Ahsan Raza
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:05AM

    Arsala You are demanding a detailed manifesto from Imran. That is not going to come until 6 months before elections because people under the current political setup like Nawaz Shareef who specialize in making a fool out of the people and copy Imran 24/7 to gain political milage Cough Cough Gujranwala rally etc. Are going to put up a make shift copy to gain votes and do nothing when they are in power. PTI has a well thought out political strategy and in time, the manifesto will come forward too along with the rhetoric.

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  • Mohammad Assad
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:07AM

    I agree with Amin. IKs tsunami is not an Egypt like revolution. Its a soft revolution that occurs with the rise of a third power that breaks the strangle hold over Pakistan by the political mafias, as Hassan Nisar puts it.

    Rest, the bit about him having limited understanding, its a tad bit condescending and while I respect your opinion, I dont know who you are and what qualifies you to suggest he has a limited understanding or naive understanding of anything. For me at least IKs views carry more weight than your opinion.

    Other than that, I have not read his book so I cant comment on the flavor that you are giving to his words.

    Hope you dont mind what I had to say, and others who read this please refrain from calling me a PTI troll. If you want your critique to be taken seriously, be patient and tolerant and accept criticism of your criticism as well.

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  • omar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:07AM

    i dosnt seen a single neutral thing in your article it was all in a very molded way diverging people towards PTI, the imran’s tsunami is not the same as the thareer squire.The demands of Egyptian’s are different then imran’s followers. in a capacity to see that imran has been returned back from airport early in 2000’s when he took up the case against ALTAF HUSSAIN AND RITE IN KARACHI JALSA ANO WORDS FOR THEM why he just victimizing only one political force at major
    a major and a very important question arises with him that he always said he will break status quo is tareen and kasuri and laghri poor people of back broken PAKISTANI NATION ??Recommend

  • PTItroll
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:18AM

    1st The author raises a valid conclusion, but quoting bits from his memoir is a bit to harsh. Everything is not black and white, the context needs to be discussed thoroughly as well. I am waiting for his manifesto to come up as well.

    2nd Pakistan’s youth is not at two poles: orthodox and liberals. Imran is the voice of the silent majority living in a spectrum between the two. Those are the ones who are attending his rallies.

    The positive change seen in this op-Ed is that for the very first time in Pakistan writers are questioning a party’s manifesto rather than fake slogans. Good Job!

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  • Zoaib
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:20AM

    I don’t understand how people like the author of this article find IK’s ideology and vision as confusing. I find everything he says quite logical and understandable, including his views on the War on terror. His book that you mention is an excellent piece of work and showcases his life and ideas quite succinctly. I find solace in the fact that whatever he has managed to achieve in cricket, social work and now in politics he has achieved through sheer determination and hard work and that shows a focus and direction that few of us will be able to match. Lastly, about him having more in common with orthodox Islamic parties, you only need to compare the PTI rally (on the 25th) and the JI rally that was held today to realise how different PTI’s ideology is from the orthodox Islamic parties here.

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  • A Shahid
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:22AM

    He proved all the drawing room analysts wrong on 30th October and he will secure a thumping victory when, in not too distant future, he will take over the reins of power. All of our liberal elite failed to realize the potential of his movement and it turned into a tsunami and they have now failed to grasp the crux of his message and it will turn into a revolution soon.

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  • Afridi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:31AM

    I have been closely observing the politics of the highest in the land of the lowest since 1988. The politics of PPP has proved a walking disaster and on the other side the politics of PML has pulverised Pakistan. We have tried them several times but they couldnt deliver. Though i have some serious reservations abt Imran & I am not a camp follower of him but for the sake of these miserable masses and for a hopeful change we should give him a go. It is said tht the world worships youth and here we have to acknowledge this point tht the world (youth) is blindly worshipping Imran khan and they their full faith in him. Good luck Imran.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:40AM

    So u want us to vote same shameless Broeskys No maam we will vote only PTI simple like snaple.

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  • Concerned
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:12AM

    This country is doomed. It is a hotbed of superstitious religious dogma (different from a more reasoned, mature understanding of Islam), intolerance and an increasingly sidelined educated class. Its education and healthcare infrastructure are in tatters (it is one of the few countries that hasn’t eradicated polio – partly due to superstition), there is absolutely no law and order and the country’s ruling elite are plundering whatever is left of the national treasury.

    The military continues to play games in Afghanistan, fosters division by appeasing religious fundamentalists for ‘strategic depth’. The establishment and the government both play games with the naive masses who don’t know or understand better, twisting and turning facts to suit their agendas. A decade of lying has contorted this country’s social fabric beyond recognition. Its people are DESPISED by the world, not a soul cared for the flood victims, and this narrative has ruined the lives of millions of people in this country.

    The war on terror has a lot to do with this, but so do those controlling our state policy. Their control and willpower is so resolute that you can bleed articles and beg them to change, for the sake of our children, or for the sake of our standing in the world, or for the sake of their great-grandchildren, but they are convinced that this is the right way to go about things.

    And this is the country Imran Khan inherits, what will he change? Will he raise this country’s credibility? Will he educate the fanatical, reactionary masses? What can he possibly do without getting changing these policies? And can he really change them without being deposed or assassinated?

    Imran Khan, or Kiyani, or Sharif, or Zardari – this country is doomed.

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  • Z Khan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:19AM

    ”My vote matters, just like yours. And I’m not ready to make a mistake.”
    than you have two options.
    either eat popcorn and have quality time with family and friends on election day as most of us have been doing for years or
    vote for the the same tried and tested corrupt lot who have been taking turns to loot this poor country for ages.
    as for as I am concerned, with not much options left, I will go for a change and will vote for a guy who is honest, has no corruption charges against him and has served the nation well and earned accolade for the country over decades.

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  • zain mubarak
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:50AM

    absolutely agree with the author. imran khan is deceptive, master of u turns and contradictory acts… pakistanis should NOT give the reigns of the country into the hands of such an arrogant, impulsive & shallow man that imran khan is.

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  • Mahrukh Khan Irfan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:18AM

    Nice New Puppet Of Khakis !

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  • Dr.Jawad Babar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:33AM

    Please spare Imran Khan your valuable advise and let him fight the evils facing our beloved country. It’s people like him who change the face of the world, undeterred by the relentless criticism directed at them.

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  • S F Hussain
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:53AM

    You claim to have read his memoir, but you have failed to quote perhaps the most important chapter in which he lays out the ideological paradigms of his Pakistan project. I would certainly encourage everyone to read his memoir on Pakistan, and specifically Chapter 10, where he very articulately traces the rise and fall of Islamic thought and scientific inquiry and his propositions to resolve Pakistan’s dogmatic and illiterate society.

    When he quotes Iqbal’s philosophy as his principle guide, and when he claims that he wants to convert Pakistan into a welfare state, he wants to create a ‘modernist Islamic Republic’. Now the closest example to this is perhaps Turkey. This is what he wants Pakistan to become, not a Talibanised cesspool of reactionary ‘Sharia’. He attacks America because their withdrawal from Afghanistan, the chief rationale, alongside Israel’s occupation of Palestine, for this ‘Jihad’, is radicalizing Pakistani society – he is probably just as horrified with Pakistan as the rest of us are.

    Nevertheless, you raise valid questions regarding the PTI’s alienation of liberals. Personally, I believe the rationale is entirely political rather than ideological. One, the majority of Pakistanis associate liberals with the West, and by extension the War on Terror. ‘Liberal’ political parties such as the PPP are associated with the status-quo, another evil in the eyes of the PTI. IK has repeatedly referred to the polarization of Pakistani society and it is safe to say, it is largely anti-American. The liberals are a minority in Pakistan, and the voting masses are largely conservative. The PTI is dealing with the political and social realities of the vote bank.

    I do, however, have faith that Imran Khan’s years in England, his education at Oxford and his insight into Western society have not gone to waste. This is a man who has seen the best of both worlds and will probably have a far more nuanced, reasonable framework than his simple political rhetoric dictates. It is a movement with a firm principle – become a self-made nation, don’t mimic the West, but learn from them and incorporate this into your own society. It remains to be seen whether my optimism in Imran Khan’s programme is correct, but all indicators suggest that Imran Khan is playing the poltical game very shrewdly, with a firm, honourable goal in mind.

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 2:53AM

    “I was and always have been an idealist” (p.155)

    This is obviously no longer true, if it all it once was. Some telling evidence: (a) alignment deal with the establishement (b) cast of same-old politicians that Imran Khan has brought on board in PTI and (c) Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remark yesterday that PTI will not rule out an alliance with Musharraf. It is clear that ideals have long ago been dropped on the wayside.

    I agree with you on the value of my vote. Imran harps about change – but if this change is to mutely accept the dominance of the army/establishment over the civilian government then, like you, this will be a mistake I cannot live with.

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  • Bilal
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:37AM

    Yes, Madam…go ahead, vote for PPP or PML (N). You are right, they deserve a fourth/third chance. Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

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  • Haseeb
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:51AM

    Wow, is ET obsessed with IK or what?! They are running an average of two op-eds a day against him. Yet, his popularity continues to grow. Can you take a hint?:p Snarky comments aside, I am no admirer of IK though I will vote for him because clearly — and I don’t see how even Ms. Jawaid can dispute this — he is the best of a bad lot. I agree that most of the so-called “liberal” criticism IK attracts is well-deserved. But there is a snag. Imran is not now — and has never claimed to be — a “liberal”. So why are liberals feeling this deep sense of “betrayal” and indignation? Is it because they are so arrogant they cannot accept an Oxford-educated, internationally-acclaimed athlete and philanthropist genuinely believes in Islam, Iqbal and nationalism? I am sorry, I think that says more about our liberal chatting classes than it does about IK.

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  • Mariam
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:58AM

    Oh my God, Imran is not an angel. I didn’t know that. I and millions of young, educated people like me thought he was Jinnah, Mandela and Gandhi rolled into one. Damn. I was so sure he would come into power, and milk and honey would be flowing through the streets of Pakistan. Arsia, you have convinced me. I will vote for NS. Perhaps, this time he will be successful in becoming “Ameer-ul-Momineen” and all will be well. No, I have a better idea, why not give the PPP a fourth chance? Yes, that should do it.

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  • Falcon
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:38AM

    If the esteemed writer were to spend more time on the streets than on the couch…not everything but a lot of what IK says will make more sense…

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  • dr j tipu
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:49AM

    you can waste your vote for PPP or PMLN girl, like this waste of time analysis, but I wouldnt, mine is going for IK! sick and tired of PP and PMLN

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  • Qaisrani
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:26AM

    @author.

    Khan cannot fulfill every one’s expectations.

    So better go and vote for Bashi Khan.he will serve you people better.

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  • Ibrahim
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:36AM

    Well said. Love the sarcasm@Mariam:

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  • Adnan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:10AM

    Arsia is right. PPP and PML N definitely deserve another chance. Two terms in office (four terms in the Punjab) for N and three terms for PPP in the past two decades is not long enough to have a fair assessment of their style of governance. People of Pakistan would be unwise to risk trying an unproven phenomenally successful sportsman and social worker who built a state-of-the-art cancer hospital and a world class private university in the country’s rural hinterland without having state patronage at his disposal. That would be just rash:pRecommend

  • Adnan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:16AM

    Hear, hear…well put sir@Haseeb:Recommend

  • HH
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:34AM

    I fully agree…. PTI supports should start asking about a detailed political/economic stretegy.

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  • Ayesha
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:54AM

    Most people above have made a very well-reasoned case for why they support IK Face it guys, Imran is genuinely popular at this moment in history. Deal with it. The country that has survived 9 years of PPP, 5 years of PML N and 9 years of Mush in the last 23 years can probably survive a few years of IK too. Recommend

  • Zalim singh
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:56AM

    simply no

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  • Ali
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:18AM

    @Adnan: Brilliant. Most people will not get it, sadly.Recommend

  • READ
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:29AM

    @Author: VERY WELL WRITTEN. “Though not ready to write him off just yet,” As far as my understanding goes, I don’t think you have decided NOT to vote for IK yet. Like many in Pakistan, I agree that for the first time in many year we have revived our political inner beings and have a say in our country’s fuiture. Not sure if it was the emergence of IK that did that or if it was our disenchantement with the current politicial system that brought us out on the streets.
    For previous commentators, I don’t think that debating and seriosuly questioning IK’s agenda means you are anti-PTI. I think this is the mark of a maturing society and doesn;t mean you are a PPP or PML-N stooge. I think we all want change and if we didn;t, I think many of us would comofrtably sit on our couch and watch re-runs of Friends rather than make an effort and write something worth reading.
    Excellent work and lets agree, that we all want change for our country. Our loyalties should be to Pakistan and not to a specific political party. In that respect, we’re all in the same boat heading in same direction.

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  • Muhammad Talha
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:56AM

    Revolution cannot be done and imposed by saying we don’t have winning candidates.

    Imran Khan’s passion and the leadership are in doll drum when he invited all the bad stuff in his party. People like Qureshi, Hashmi, Qausari, Sardar, Sawati, etc cannot stand with an idea; they will have their own agendas and they even change the ideology of revolution.

    IK has been kidnapped and talking like a parrot and slave. He has left the path of virtue and indulges himself in negative practices just for the sake of winning elections.

    His saying that if he will not win, he will bring people on the roads, clearly shows his frustration and childlike nature, where Pakistan needs a mature and sensible leader for its success.

    He says that Allah can change any body mind so why not it is true for all the other leaders who have greater idea to bring this country into power.

    If he has someone else agenda what it looks like now, we should be careful about it in order to protect our country.

    Love your country and no hatred for the people sharing this lovely land with you.

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  • No BS
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Have you tried approaching any PTI forum to get a handle on policies, or are you also waiting to be spoonfed at your doorstep without making an ioata of effort??

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  • Sonia
    Jan 2, 2012 - 12:38PM

    @Ayesha: Agreed. In any case, IK could not possibly be worse than the “leaders” you mentioned.

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  • Mirza
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:18PM

    IK has been in practical politics for over a decade. It is not unfair to ask about his detailed plan to take care of all the problems of people. When a party is formed it has a manifesto/plan and let people know that that plan is? In particular how much it differs from the other rightwing parties? On one hand these opposition parties want the current govt to leave ASAP and on the other they are waiting for the elections to present their manifesto!

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  • MAD
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:20PM

    Voting for PTI could be a mistake of catastrophic proportions, having said said voting for PPP and/or PMLN will be one.

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  • Asim
    Jan 2, 2012 - 1:54PM

    Its a sad state of affair to see that people have come to a point where they want to vote for PTI not for a manifesto nor for a credible team. The common theme I could gather from PTI supporters is “we have tried others might as well try IK”. So if tomorrow Veena Malik will form Pakistan Tehreek Jamhuriat, then we should vote for Veena Malik.

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  • Haris
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:08PM

    @HH:
    he has a strategy…..have u ever watched any of his interviews…

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  • Tariq
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:41PM

    I suggest people to start visit PTI web site and read the research paper they have on the web site. This will give little insight on the policy and some useful matter to talk about rather than old faces talk. On foreign policy america is doing same what IK has been saying from the start. Writer thinks that she has very good understanding of Agfhanistan issue. I request her to visit there once to get true picture. I have been there for six months and agree with IK.
    If not IK then what else??Remedy is simple that we need an honest leader.

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  • Tariq
    Jan 2, 2012 - 2:44PM

    @HH: Please go and visit insaf web site where they have started to publish research papers which will eventually become policies. I dont agree with them some of them but its a start.

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  • Noman
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:20PM

    I cant understand why people write ‘how Imran khan will solve the riddle of Pakistan’s crises’ while at the moment he is the only man with a plan, he has given outlines of his reforms in system in both of his jalsas at Lahore and Karachi and committed to reveal the blue prints of his party policies on every thing (agriculture, judiciary, education etc… ), his speeches are like a mature politicians of US and other successful countries that contain the vision and outlines of plans of the party.
    i mean come on…. Recommend

  • LOK
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:11PM

    Imran’s political history is full of errors and mistakes. Taking a bag full of feudal lords in his party can’t be a good thing. Shah Mehmood has not ruled out an alliance with Musharraf. I think he is tired and has finally gave in to establishment. He stands by the supreme court, a supreme court which is termed as establishment’s dummy by Asma Jahangir. You may argue that she is upset losing the appeal in memo case, I worry what if she is right.

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  • Feroz
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:14PM

    Imran Khan must come out with a detailed Party Manifesto giving his solution to the numerous problems facing the country. He wants to talk to the Taliban, what will he do if they do not pay heed and continue on the path of violence ? Does he subscribe to the “strategic depth” policy in Afghanistan or not ? What is his take on the armed non state actors nurtured by the Establishment ? If the policies are clearly defined and implemented he may get international support.
    No political leader or party has been allowed to function efficiently or effectively till date. Imran Khan seems a hopeless optimist but let us wish him luck nevertheless.

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  • Waleed
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:20PM

    @Mariam: Wonderfully put, Madam.

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  • Usman Ahmed
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:52PM

    @Asim: My friend, you don’t have to vote for Imran if you don’t want to…but comparing a man who has consistently brought a good name to Pakistan and done so much for its people to Veena Malik is simply wrong! Imran is a national hero and an achiever. Veena Malik is…well…I will not say it since it would be censored anyway:)

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  • Yousaf
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:01PM

    I don’t get this argument that some people use against Imran Khan that just because the “other options are even worse” is no reason to vote for him. It’s a ridiculous argument because, hang on, isn’t that the whole point of elections?! That one votes for the best candidate among the range of alternatives available? When Nelson Mandela becomes a naturalised Pakistani and stands for office, I will vote for him. …Don’t know about you but I will take IK any day in that crowd!Recommend

  • Shazia
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:03PM

    @Mariam: Nice comment — sarcastic and funny:)

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  • Faheem
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:28PM

    I know imran has issues which he needs to look at, but i always wonder that he is so much discussed in english dailies by every other columnist, and crticized over his induction of old faces, lack of policies, but i wish the same coloumnists write coloumns about Mr.Zardari and Mr.Nawaz Sharif and write about their policies and their talking of change. It seems there is only one sane person and every one criticizes him all the time.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:43PM

    Very good piece, young lady.

    We are ALL waiting for something more substantive from IK, something that well thought out and do-able, instead of cheap slogans.

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  • Nadeem
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:48PM

    Ma’am I think you know nothing much about the views of the IK. It seems that you only see the glass half empty because he has told each and every thing that you are asking. And you are right about the vote, but you represent only yours and I represent mine.Recommend

  • Shazia
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:49PM

    @Yousaf: Absolutely!

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  • Ahmed Farooqi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:52PM

    @Haseeb: Exactly!!!!

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  • Ahmed Farooqi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 5:57PM

    @MAD: So what do you suggest? We simply don’t vote?! I just don’t get this line of thinking. It’s all RELATIVE. If you think IK is flawed but better than AZ or NS, then vote for him. If you think either of AZ or NS is better than the alternative, then vote for one of them. Why does IK have to be PERFECT to earn our vote but AZ or NS don’t?!

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  • Khadija
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:09PM

    When I read articles like Ms. Jawaid’s, I despair for Pakistan’s future. People like her are not going to vote for Imran Khan (who, based on his reputation and social work, would have been a strong candidate in any of the western “liberal” democracies they so admire) simply because he doesn’t measure up to their version of their ideal “liberal” leader…and thanks to them, we will end up with another five years of Zardari/Sharif! Let’s not use our unrealistic expectations against Imran. At the moment, he is our best bet. Sure, he isn’t perfect? But Zardari and Sharif are? C’mon!

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  • Mauvra
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:11PM

    @Ahmed Farooqi: Yes. I was about to write just that. Thank you for saving me the trouble.

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  • Kashif
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:16PM

    I agree that all of the arguments Arsla makes are valid ones. Just one question: has she bothered to measure Zardari and Nawaz against them? How do they come out? Or is it that Imran has to be held up to an entirely higher set of standards? If so, then that’s a little unfair. It’s also a huge compliment to the man!

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  • Ali Naqi
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:36PM

    I don’t know about the author but this is how I vote. (Apologies in advance if my cynicism offends some people.) For me, voting is very simple. If it’s a choice between a murderer and a burglar, vote for the latter. If it’s a choice between a burglar and a thief, vote for the latter. If it’s a choice between a thief and a pickpocket, vote for the latter. Similarly, if it’s a choice between the man who was visiting his French chateau when his country was inundated with floods and the “confused ex-playboy and born-again Muslim” who gave his country one of the best-run cancer hospital, vote for the latter. See? Simple? No idealism, no unrealistic, larger-than-life expectations. Just vote for the better candidate from the choices you have available, instead of waiting in vain for the perfect one to turn up. It’s called DEMOCRACY. That’s why come election day, I will be voting for Imran Khan!

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  • Aly Zaman
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:38PM

    @Kashif: Yes, even Imran’s detractors expect from him than they do from AZ and NS. Good observation.

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  • Kamran
    Jan 2, 2012 - 7:12PM

    The writer has no idea what she is writing, she does not know Imran Khan i am sure.

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  • Taimur
    Jan 2, 2012 - 7:29PM

    @Ali Naqi: That is quite possibly the best comment on the entire page — including the article. Kudos. If you allow me to put words in your mouth, you’re saying, if it’s a choice between Zardari and Sharif, vote for Sharif. But if it’s a choice between Sharif and Imran, vote for Imran. Quite agree. My order of preference would be the same: 1. Imran 2. Sharif 3. (with great reluctance) Zardari. Like you, I have no illusions about Imran Khan. I don’t believe he will transform Pakistan into a Malaysia or a Singapore in a matter of years. I just believe he is the best choice in the field we have got. Good luck to him.

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  • Amar
    Jan 2, 2012 - 7:35PM

    Well Ms. Writer, here is PTI mainfesto, which clearly mention the road map to success in Pakistan.

    I hope now you will vote for PTI.

    Imran Khan Zindabad, Pakistan Zindabad

    http://www.insaf.pk/AboutUs/Manifesto/tabid/138/Default.aspx

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  • Fareeha
    Jan 2, 2012 - 7:56PM

    Fair point, PTI does not have a coherent agenda. Can the author direct me to a website I can read PML-N’s manifesto on…or the PPP’s? What detailed policy prescriptions did Nawaz Sharif give in Gujranwala? Or President Zardari in Ghari Khuda Bux? And these are leaders of parties who have served multiple terms in office! Madam, be fair and objective. Judge other leaders against the same yardsticks that Imran Khan supposedly falls so short of.

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  • Raza Habib Raja
    Jan 2, 2012 - 7:59PM

    @Ali Naqi: That’s one of the best, most original definitions of democracy EVER. Much better than “democracy is the best revenge” that reminds me of a joke I heard when I was last in Pakistan. Recommend

  • anonymous
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:38PM

    I’m pretty sure he has a better understanding of ”international affairs, regional politics and the war on terror” than you, what with 15+ years of political experience. If he did open ”dialogue with various militant groups, as the US has done in Afghanistan, and set a timetable for the withdrawal of our troops from the tribal areas”, terrorist attacks in Pakistan would stop, simply because the main reason we are being attacked is our involvement in the war on terror. For a successful and peaceful American withdrawal, Pakistan needs to fully get involved in negotiations .

    And you know what, the pragmatists would have said Pakistan will disintegrate a couple of months after its creation, but a certain idealist knew better (Jinnah). Its high time we as a nation stop limiting ourselves and compromising on our principles. Politics is a dirty game, but just because it is doesn’t mean it can’t be beaten.

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  • Jan 3, 2012 - 12:04AM

    Dear Author!
    Yes, no doubt your vote matters, so I hope you make a good decision in the end, but from what you already wrote about IK I’m very sure, you’re not satisfied with him. I am a strong supporter of IK, but I don’t like getting all emotional. The reason why I support him is simple; what other option do we have? Either we vote for Zardari or Nawaz, if not for IK, and maybe for you those are the options, but not for me.
    What I really don’t understand about this anti-PTI or anti-Imran Khan league of so-called liberal bloggers such as yourself, is this obsession with War on Terror. I have liberal activist friends in US who are against any kind of war and racial or religious discrimination. But our liberals think just like a US Conservative. Every liberal on the face of this planet believes that US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was completely unnecessary, and if you had followed IK’s statements from Day 1 you would have known that he had been saying the same thing from the very first day this war has started.
    And btw, you need to study a little more to know there are examples of philanthropists becoming leaders and politicians, and most of them delivered in a much better way. And please don’t kid yourself, believing you’re a liberal, cos you’re not, a liberal always has an open mind towards change. None of us know what will Imran Khan do when he comes into power, but at least we don’t want to repeat the same mistake by electing the ones who have shown their true faces to us so many times.
    Now about IK not giving you a clear picture of how he is going to fix our problems, well, I’m sure he has a plan in the making, an honest plan which is going to be drawn by experts. And one doesn’t need to have solutions for every problem from the very first day, one just need to appoint the right and expert people for solving these problems, there are a thousand ways to solve one problem, but it takes an expert to solve them. He hasn’t come up with the exact solutions? do you think the others have? compared to Nawaz and Zardari, IK still came up with many solutions, even mentioned them in his rallies.

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  • Amna
    Jan 3, 2012 - 4:30AM

    tahreer square is not the definition of a revolution. It is an example of a type of revolution. Is that so hard to understand for our educated class?

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  • Usman
    Jan 4, 2012 - 1:50AM

    The reality is simple though a bit comic in Pakistan’s case: Sheikh Rasheed rightly said: “Saray jahooriat kay phool fauji gamlay mein uggay hain Bhutto say ley kar ajj tak.” In reality, in Pakistan there has never been a govt of the people, by the people and for the people even during its so-called democratic periods. Major parties are family managed inherited businesses and their electoral practices are so foul that they cannot be deemed democratic. Politicians leave no stone unturned to get elected be it killing their opponents. No politician of note in Pakistan is from middle class or properly middle pass! Bilwal will inherit PPPP and Maryam (beauty) or Hamza (beast) will inherit PML(N). Imran Khan loton ki barat lay kar ja raha hai. He had plastic lotas before; now steel lotas like Hashmi and Qureshi, etc are joining him which will make his rule the same old story with the same old ‘electable’ faces. In the present scenario, army will again be forced to take over by circumstances like financial collapse, civil unrest and SOEs’ failure. Army won’t be farishtas but there are only a few generals at the top who could be corrupt say 9 Corps commanders while rest follow orders diligently. Hence, there is always much less corruption n more economic prosperity during military rule. So military which is inevitable now! Ordinary people now look back to Musharraf’s time as a golden period and ask when will Kiyani get rid of the present lot. This is what i heard while buying cigarettes at a khokha. Thus with popular support behind him Kiyani is the only democratic option!

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  • Maham Iqbal
    Jan 4, 2012 - 2:06AM

    Where the writer states that “…where is his agenda?”, I strongly urge the lady to read PTI’s constitution and manifesto available on the website. Where she addresses the PTI Chairman as “Impatient, frustrated and impulsive”, she should bear in mind that his struggle has been of 15 years, which he carried persistently with few believers and one single belief. It is a surprise that she has not been able to note what the PTI Chairman and his party manifesto has in common with the liberal educated youth rallying support him. She should look specifically at the education, health and employment related sections of the manifesto. I’m sure that our “educated youth” may be studying in a Pakistani university but we are no less in intelligence than a Boston University graduate. Studying the war on Afghanistan and living as a neighbour to the country are two opposites. It seems the writer is in favour of US troops in Afghanistan; which even American citizens have started to oppose. When undue blood stops being shed (be it Taliban or non-Taliban blood), we will all witness how extremism and terrorism are countered. The writer should bear in mind that Imran Khan’s focus is not mere charity that she wishes for him to follow Mr. Edhi’s footsteps. He and his party are striving to bring our country out of the charity spectrum by creating strong systems within, than create beggars out of the nation. I wonder what the lady means by not making a mistake with her vote. What other options does she have in mind other than the ones we’ve tried, tested and rejected?

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  • zaheer sahito
    Jan 5, 2012 - 2:21AM

    I fully endorse the article by Arsla as an eye opener. The approach she has advanced is based on well thought out opinion and is sophistical. Many of us can not understand out rightly what she has tried to explain in her sentences ‘I hope Imran Khan will soon tell us ‘how’ he will solve the problems that beset Pakistan today’ if he is an ‘idealist’ as per IK’s own wording. Similarly, IK has definitely a limited understanding of International Politics and the problems that accompany after stepping into practical political arena. He does not claim to have ‘Ala din’s lamp that would solve all the problems in an eye blink; furthermore, he will certainly have to believe his party members (if becomes able to form govt) for running the state-affairs, and as we all know that I.K has same old political faces now under his umbrella whom he intends to give party tickets, the youth is bound to be once again pushed to the wall. hahah. Mere Piyare Watan, tera Allah hi Hafiz hai’.

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