‘Tis a pity…

Published: November 28, 2012

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Yup, it is indeed a pity, for a valid reason, that the famed tsunami has abated — and even to all intents and purposes, seems to be fast-fading. The pity is that had Imran Khan been able to sustain it, with or without aid and abetment from wherever, we might have seen change in the foreseeable future — much-wanted change, which has been harped upon by Khan himself.

Whether it might or would have been for better or for worse is another matter. But what is sorely needed in this country’s political scenario, which few with sanity can deny, is change. However, he has blundered badly and the blunders are too well known to bear boring repetition.

At home, what is expected of him in the next election? Can he win sufficient seats to even make a difference, let alone usher in change? Abroad, if a comment in The Guardian last month on the subject of his ‘detention’ in Toronto is anything to go by, he is still regarded as “the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be the country’s next prime minister”. That is a far cry as things stand.

In September 1996, Ardeshir Cowasjee addressed to him, in his Dawn column, an open letter. Sixteen years ago, Imran was just emerging. The letter amazingly tells us how little things have changed and how static they remain.

It opened: “Dear Imran: We thought you would be different from the goons we have suffered and still suffer, whose ‘followers’ round up people, pay them to go to airports to ‘greet’ them and take them in processions to wherever it is they are going and in the bargain, disturb the already harried people.

“On the day prior to your arrival and on the day you arrived in Karachi, August 19, this newspaper carried advertisements exhorting citizens to go to the airport and give you a ‘rousing welcome’. I asked your Karachi lieutenant, Nazim Haji, why this was being done and he told me that he was opposed to the idea but that others in your gang here had prevailed. Should you not curb and educate such elements?

“On Saturday, when citizens of Karachi were invited to meet you, some 400 of them had to look at each other for over half-an-hour. You were late. Nazim made the excuse that you had been delayed by the traffic. This raised a laugh. It was the day after the murder of Mir Murtaza and Karachi, its traffic and its people were all stunned. Then, you announced that your late-coming was not your fault. A good leader does not keep people waiting and should he do so, even inadvertently, he accepts responsibility and apologises.”

Towards the end: “Your prime declared concentration at the moment is on corruption, the eradication of which in the present dispensation is unachievable. The exchanges between president, prime minister and leader of the opposition on this subject are reminiscent of the legendary conferences Ali Baba was wont to hold with his right-hand man Mehmet Pasha and his left-hand man Turhan Bey after they had all been on a nightlong spree.

“What you can do right now is what some of us are trying to do — use your platform to lessen the robbing of what is left in the till. One well known rich picking spot upon which you can land is the Steel Mill, where figures of buying and selling run in billions.”

At the end: “A few points for you to consider. ‘Sacrifice’ is a word you (or for that matter, any politician) should never use. You are all doing precisely what you want to do. When you choose your team, carefully exclude those that claim they are willing to “sacrifice” themselves for their country.

“And, whenever a politician proclaims he is following in Muahammad Ali Jinnah’s footsteps, we know he is doing precisely the opposite”.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Uqaab
    Nov 28, 2012 - 11:55PM

    I think it would have been better to reprint Mr Cowasjee’s letter verbatim and spare Amina ji’s first few lines. Can we move on from criticizing Imran? It’s getting boring now.


  • Parvez
    Nov 29, 2012 - 12:03AM

    So good of you to print Ardeshir Cowasjee’s advice to Imran Khan and so true that like almost all of our political leaders even Imran Khan is not programmed to take sensible advice. The only thing going in his favour is ‘ If not Imran…… than who ? ‘.


  • sabi
    Nov 29, 2012 - 12:14AM

    Imran Khan can never succede because he believes in politicle Islam.Blunders are commen with confused philosphy of mixing religion and politics.IK was supposed to make blunders and he has not dissappointed.


  • Fahad Khan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 12:29AM

    If the tsunami has faded away then why is it that we are reminded the same thing at least once in a week in ET Op-eds. Let bygones be bygones and move on. Let’s focus on the parties and leaders who are most likely going to form the next government. Why waste time and energy on reminding people of Pakistan again and again that Imran Khan’s tsunami is no more going to make a difference. Lets talk about issues and problems and leaders and parties of Pakistan that matter. Imran Khan is neither Pakistan’s problem nor important enough to be reminded of in everyday’s ET Op-eds. Do we really need so much op-eds to make a single point that the tsunami is gone? Or is it just that it works for both the publisher and columnists? Columnists will have to do some research and brainstorming to write about issues and problems of Pakistan and publisher will have to sacrifice advertisements that it receives from governments if it allows writings against them on regular basis. Of course they are not going to do that. They will go for the easier target Imran Khan. Columnist just need an hour or two to write an op-ed without research and brainstorming about Imran Khan and publisher gets maximum number of clicks and comments. A win win situation for both. God! and we thought our media is independent.


  • Falcon
    Nov 29, 2012 - 1:03AM

    Amina – Your concern is well placed. But also look at the other side. PTI has been completely focused inwards because of internal party elections, on a scale unprecedented in Pakistan’s history (to be completed in 4400 UCs in Pakistan). This is not an easy task by any means. In the meanwhile, IK is going around overseas gathering funds so that party can support those candidates who can not afford to run the election campaign by themselves. If these things don’t happen, PTI won’t have the foundation to stand on and one or other problem will keep coming up. So, please bear with PTI, I assure you that you will be surprised. On a side note, Cowasjee in one of the last ever pieces written praised PTI for gathering policy input from environment experts. So, he was not that disappointed from IK after all.


  • salman
    Nov 29, 2012 - 1:22AM

    I agree…articles criticising IK and pti without any substance are getting boring. Especially when they reprint articles from 16 years ago. I don’t know where you get this impression that tsunami is abating..because in my circle of friends, work colleagues and extended family, more people are willing for vote pti then a year ago.


  • Sultan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 2:36AM


    On a side note, Cowasjee in one of the last ever pieces written praised PTI for gathering policy input from environment experts. So, he was not that disappointed from IK after all.

    Can some one tell us what Cowasjee wrote about Zardari and Sharif? Thank you.


  • Sultan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 3:05AM

    You have no idea what is going to hit you in the next election! All you old relics of the decaying order will be swept away by the Tsunami. Get some sand bags, while there is time!


  • Something Clever
    Nov 29, 2012 - 3:19AM

    Imran Khan being criticized is something you’ll have to get over if you want him in politics. He’s not any more privileged than any other politician in that area.
    Or how about I say you should stop criticizing Zardari and Sharif in a serious tone and we’ll all have a laugh?


  • sabi
    Nov 29, 2012 - 4:27AM

    Both of you have immence talent but, sorry to say, you are wasting this talent on something which is more like a mirage than reality.This is not to discourage you but to inspire you that there are much better ideas to follow than one by PTI.(no offence though).
    Ishq ne Ghalib ko nakamma kar diya-Varna ham bi admi they kam ke


  • Nov 29, 2012 - 5:36AM

    It would bode well for Pakistan if our civil society and especially our respected scholars and writers like yourself not always dismiss popular change with over-analysis or unwarranted criticism just to feel special. Yes, popular sentiment can be right sometimes, it does not always have to be wrong. In todays Pakistan, cynicism and hypocrisy rule, but can we at least try to supress these and take a fair impartial look at Khan and his party?


    Why is there a different standard for Khan than other political parties?
    Real change is not about fireworks and political stunts, its about building a lasting institution that will stand the test of time, based on democratic principles. If the show has abated, no need to count the great Khan out. You want to be dazzled? You will be very soon. PTI is a political party after all, not a circuis and Khan is not a stage actor who’s job is to entertain people who are always up for a good show.


  • Uqaab
    Nov 29, 2012 - 5:50AM

    @Something Clever: I have absolutely no problem with Imran’s criticism. It’s just that with the miniscule (if any) amount of input Imran has had in our current messy state of affairs and the chance of success (hardly any) that the op-ed writers give to him, it does not make sense to keep harping of his negatives for that long with that consistency. It’s been months we are reading about him a couple of times a week. There are other important issues and we would do well to focus on those. For Zardari and Sharif, well personally I wouldn’t want the learned writers to focus on them either but I don’t recall anyone writing on them as well and they are in power.


  • Kamal
    Nov 29, 2012 - 6:53AM

    If Imran is so worthless, I would like my esteemed schlolars to stop writing an article on him every fortnight.

    Instead be more practical and focus on those who have created all this mess we find ourselves in at this moment.


  • Falcon
    Nov 29, 2012 - 9:31AM

    Thanks for the compliment. Please do inspire me with your ‘better idea’? To your couplet, I also remember one couplet for the current lot of politicians in govt…”Ab ke baar dekho woh kia fareb dete hain…phir se mil rahay hain woh saadgi ke saath” :)


  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Nov 29, 2012 - 9:43AM

    At the end of her article, the writer offered two pieces of advice to Imran Khan, one of which was that while selecting his team, he should carefully exclude those who claim they are willig to “sacrifice” themselves for their country, because entering politice is their own choice, and for precisely that reason, IK should also not use the term for himself.

    While I would agree that the term has been greately misused in our country, its use in certain situations might be justified and the fact that a particular person chose a certain course of action of his own free will does not necessarily negate it. For example, if Usad Umar left a successful and extremely well-paying career, where his further progress was assured, to enter uncharted and uncertain waters of politics, and joined an emerging and not an old party which has been in ‘business’ for long, his choice would definitely have an element of sacrifice, and that goes for certain other PTI members as well, including Imran Khan.

    Also, when the writer herself emphasizes desperate need for a ‘change’, she should try to help and support, with constructive advice and other means, those who are in a position to bring about a healthy change, instead of just shooting them down mercilessly. Surely, change won’t come from the two major parties which are presently in government, and not exactly for the first time.


  • Javid
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:34AM

    If we really want a tsunami to sweep over our system, a change of face will not bring it about. There should be sweeping changes in our political system. I think there should be two parties only..liberal and conservative, with like-minded people from existing parties joining any of these two groups. There should also be an electoral college with urban educated populated areas ranking heavier than rural areas. Who will mediate such changes? I really dont know, but a radical change in the system is needed, otherwise its more of the same rubbish.


  • 3footninja
    Nov 29, 2012 - 12:18PM

    Why is there a different standard for Khan than other political parties?
    … this just perfectly summarizes the problem with these columns that writers are so mindlessly churning out day after day. Imran cannot utter a word without people examining it under a microscope. if only they’d use the same standard on the others too… just give the guy a chance for God’s sake, if he doesn’t deliver (which i doubt) then by all means criticize him, and better still boot him out. But don’t jump the gun without atleast giving the guy a fair chance. is that asking too much????


  • Genius
    Nov 29, 2012 - 2:40PM

    My concern is that if people will not prepared to work to bring material and moral improvement in their localites or local environment then who can do it. Can a leader no matter how sincere, how truthful, how capable do it all by himself? No.
    Charity begins at home. The change or improvement people need and want has to come from themselves first before any change can be seen to be coming.
    What change? Change in the outlook and habits of the people. In outlook peopel must reiterate 2


  • Genius
    Nov 29, 2012 - 2:52PM

    My concern is that if people will not prepared to work to bring material and moral improvement in their local environment then who will be able to do it. No one.
    Can a leader no matter how sincere, how truthful, how capable he may be, do it all by himself? No.
    Charity begins at home. The change or improvement people need and want has to come from themselves first before any change can be seen to be happening.
    What change? Change in the outlook and habits of the people. The change in outlook people must bring about has to be, “Together we can do it” i.e. self help attitude. The change in habits, the people need to give up is their bad habits for good habits. To do anything people need to establish their Co-operatives in every locality in the length and breadth of the country.
    The people have been leaving things to be done by the party or the leader since the last six decades. Have they seen any change for the better? No never. No one will see the change coming even in the next six hundred decades. Not untill the people themselves will be prepared to change their outlook and habits. Every thing depends on the people themselves and not much on the leader.


  • Arthur Zobo
    Nov 29, 2012 - 4:52PM

    I suggest all IK lovers you just need to get used to the fact that Immi will get criticised since he is now a political fishgood or bad stop foaming at the mouth and be realistic in your defense. After all he is not even near perfect! His volatile views on many subjects and that includes terrorism have not just alienated many would be voters but also disenchanted thousand of Youth who had once found in him a saviour.The his constant America bashing doesn’t augur too well for his supporters back in Canada and the USA.If he is going to insist on playing to the galleries then I am afraid he will lose a lot of votes from the ‘thinking masses’. I work in the midst of intellectual discourse, debates and young adult impressionable minds and I am getting the feeling that this egocentric,fixated opinion that a lot of his supporters have of him may damage him beyond recovery.I just hope for this jinxed country’s sake that IK supporters stop playing god and leave the terminology of a tsunamis sweeping away others, at bay! In politics as in life it does pay to be a little modestwhich by the way,Imran is, in real life.


  • sattar rind
    Nov 29, 2012 - 5:24PM

    ‘Sacrifice’ is a word you (or for that matter, any politician) should never use. You are all doing precisely what you want to do. When you choose your team, carefully exclude those that claim they are willing to “sacrifice” themselves for their country.


  • ahmed
    Nov 29, 2012 - 6:11PM

    Cowasji RIP a true patriot and a hero.
    Imran Khan can win still if he fires Alawi and other incompetent psychopaths who are running his organization. Elections are won by strong organizations and not by individuals. Imran has no organization and the one he has wouldn’t win him more then five seats if he is lucky.
    Honestly he has no chance in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar? Where is he going to win from? One or two seats from Southern Punjab and Mianwali at the most? if things stand as they are now and he doesn’t get some professionals managers on his team. Three seats that is all realistically he win…Of course, I wish he could win more.


  • Shanawar Hashmi
    Nov 29, 2012 - 9:35PM

    “tsunami has abated”. Really?

    Oct 2011: Lahore Jalsa – risk level: low – 200,000 gathered
    Dec 2011: Karachi Jalsa – risk level: mediuim – 200,000 gathered
    April 2011: Quetta Jalsa – risk level high – 60,000 gathered
    Oct 2012: Waziristan March – risk level critical – 100,000 marched to Tank

    Aug 2012 Top PTI Leadership declares and publishes assets on website

    Feb 2012: Launched Energy policy
    Apr 2012: Launched Local Bodies policy
    Aug 2012: Launched Economic policy
    Sep 2012: Launched Health policy

    Nov 2012: Completed Islamabad Intra Party Elections
    Nov 2012 thru Jan 2013: Intra party elections for all provinces and UCs.

    What have the other parties done? Any comparison at all? In that regard, if Tsunami has abated, then other parties have been phased out – totally.


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