Imran Khan’s ‘what-not-to-do’ list

Published: August 5, 2013
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The writer is a PhD Scholar at West Virginia University in the US

The writer is a PhD Scholar at West Virginia University in the US

Harold Lasswell, an eminent political philosopher and pioneer of the communication theory, described five basic principles of the communication process in these words: “Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect.” The PTI chairman, Imran Khan, sometimes ignores these fundamental elements whenever he communicates through a statement or speech. He should learn the art of articulation as most politicians do in the developed world. In his recent article published in Mail Online, on July 28, 2013, Imran Khan unveiled that his fall from a forklift had actually saved his life because the very next day he would have been killed by one of the Taliban groups hired by his political opponents. Imran Khan neither mentioned explicitly the names of his political opponents nor the name of the particular Taliban group. In my opinion, he should have uncovered the said alleged plot of his assassination without blaming his ‘political opponents’ unless he had concrete evidence.

Imran Khan has also made another unwise public statement on the assassination of Zahra Shahid Hussain, senior vice-president of the PTI, in Karachi on May 18, 2013. He directly blamed Altaf Hussain, the London-based MQM leader, for her murder. He should have shown resilience and restraint over the murder of his party’s leader and waited till, at least, some initial inquiry report came up. Political leaders shouldn’t be emotional when they speak. The concerns of the audience in front of them at that moment are less important than the effects of their words. It started not only a bitter duel between the MQM and his party but also brought the MQM and the PML-N closer to each other. Moreover, it started an unpleasant litigation in the courts over libel or defamation suits.

Another strange public stance of Imran Khan’s is not to attend the expected All Parties Conference (APC) over the terrorism issue, despite the fact that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI has political control, is suffering the most in this war. His demand to sit with both General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Nawaz Sharif is unrealistic and rather provocative for leaders of other political parties. Initially, he left the country before the government announced the date for the APC and now has refused to attend the meeting. This is not a serious attitude towards the most serious problem of the country. Imran Khan should propose an agenda for the meeting but should not boycott the meeting itself.

Imran Khan’s statement regarding participation in the presidential election was also ambiguous. He himself admitted in an interview that he agreed with the PPP’s stance, considered the change in the election date as pre-poll rigging and favoured boycotting the elections. Why did he participate in the presidential elections when he had shown his grave concerns explicitly in the media regarding the massive corruption in the May 11 elections, declaring responsible both the Election Commission and the judiciary? How could the same Election Commission and judiciary be acceptable for presidential elections?

Imran Khan should have used different words to express his feelings regarding the role of the judiciary in the general elections of May 11. In the field of law, intention does matter but in politics, words matter more. A politician should know well the use of words as well as their power. The legal fight on the contempt of court issue would be a deviation or unnecessary diversion from the right path, i.e., preparing for the forthcoming by-elections and local government elections. Imran Khan should also be careful in announcing the mass movement after Ramazan against the government over the rigging issue. Undoubtedly, Imran has massive public support but he should use it as a trump card.

In a nutshell, Imran Khan has passed the major test of Pakistani politics that he is not Asghar Khan. The PTI is the second political force in the country and could be the number one any time in future. The alliance of the PML-N with the MQM and the JUI-F also indicates that Imran is a major threat for them. In my opinion, Imran Khan should focus on organising his party, particularly in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. The Shakespearean hero always has a tragic flaw but a Pakistani hero shouldn’t.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Rehan khan
    Aug 5, 2013 - 10:57PM

    Oh my God! You guys and express tribune are suffering from imran khan phobia! They are greater problems in Pakistan than what IK says or doesn’t say. For goodness, grow up!
    Better write a blog/article on nawaz sharifs josh I khitaabat & how the country is drowning in floods & PM is enjoying in Saudia.
    IK is not the PM, not even the opposition leader! Get rid of IK phobias! If you’ve so many expectations from him, then you guys should’ve made him the pm! Period.

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  • Aug 5, 2013 - 11:20PM

    “My Batsmen are getting out LBW by Taliban. Unfortunately Fazlur rehman is the Umpire” Thats my dilemma. Imran Khan

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  • Jumma Janj Naal
    Aug 5, 2013 - 11:28PM

    @Author: Please note that there is no such thing in the American academia called “Ph.D. Scholar/s.” One is called a graduate student till they take their qualifying/comprehensive exams, and then after as doctoral candidate. Get over these ego loaded words please.

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  • Mirza
    Aug 5, 2013 - 11:36PM

    A very focused Op Ed that PTI should read and learn from. However, they are not going to read with an open mind and react right away. PTI supporters complaint that everybody is against them and IK should realize that they have bitterly criticized each and every party and leader and now it is the payback time. Remember the attacks on elected PM and president for last 5 years! If you cannot take the heat get out of the kitchen. Political leaders offer themselves for public scrutiny and cannot keep their lives private.
    Even the stupid fall of IK of his own mistake and lack of organization is even talked about saving his life! One can imagine if Sharif or Zardari would have taken that fall how much humorous that would have been for PTI and media? When BB was brutally shot her critics (even after killing her) were blaming her why she stood up and got shot? If she would have taken a fall because of her own mistake how many conspiracy theories and allegations would have been made against PPP leadership?
    In the end of the Op Ed the writer gives sincere advise to IK and PTI for their own good. Perhaps somebody is listening!

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  • Truth Detector
    Aug 5, 2013 - 11:38PM

    I am a PTI supporter but this article is spot on. It represents my feelings. Well written.

    PTI is fumbling primarily due to lack of political maturity. IK needs to re-think his approach on so many issues at different levels. One thing that is bothering me of late is ‘this is not our war mantra’. There are clear indications that it is creating confusion & sapping the morale of police & other LEA fighting TTP terrorists. I think IK is getting bad advice from his inner circle especially over emotional Info Secretary who easily gets carried away. The way they handled contempt case was the most childish behavior I have ever seen from PTI. Even before appearing in front of SC, they started chest thumping that we will not apologize. In my opinion, in the end that is exactly what is going to happen just like IK refused to meet Kerry in US embassy but at the end met him in Ambassador residence located in…..parameters of US embassy !!!

    Stephen Cover very well put in “Seven Habits of Highly Effective people” :
    Begin with end in mind

    That is exactly what PTI needs to do.

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  • Ali
    Aug 5, 2013 - 11:48PM

    A well written article with clear references to the double standards of Imran Khan and PTI. Some people in the media say he is confused but there is no doubt in my mind that he is following the agenda of PPP. Doing exactly what the PPP’s have been doing in the past.

    PTI supporters should understand the hypocrisy of their leaders and not blindly support all their actions. As one of the MQM’s narah goes “Hamein manzil nahi Rehnuma chahiye”, PTI supporters should not follow the same philosophy instead support whats right and reject what is wrong. Our society really needs to learn the difference between what is right and wrong.

    Recently, on social media PTI supporters have started attacking the judges of the Higher Judiciary, ECP, Government and other institutions of this country. This is really shameful and hurts the already fractured image of Pakistan.

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  • Muhammad
    Aug 5, 2013 - 11:58PM

    @Truth Detector: I dont know what kind of a PTI suppoerter are you because you all believe in most of the allegations against them and dont check for yourself. There are so many so many forces against PTI and imran khan. PML N and JUI F Is second. The bureaucracy of KPK is topping them all. I confirmed this with Mr Atif Khan (kpk Education minister) and Asad Umar and both told me that Imran khan did meet kerry at the residence of a diplomat from US but the house was his personal house outside the embassy. It was in the diplomatic enclave but not in the embassy. The embassy is thought of as an official land of the country who possess it. Not the house of a diplomat which is way outside the embassy. It could have been in F/6 islamabad or in the dimplomatic encalve but he didnt meet him in the US embassy or its boundaries. Imran’s main point was not meet kerry in a part which is considered part of US space in pakistan. Please understand, check before you quote a low-life newspaper who just wants to sell news.

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  • zafar
    Aug 6, 2013 - 12:21AM

    i like this article very much. why? because it is extremely opinionated the way a column should have been. now it is easy to argue and disagree because with any theoretical frame it is more difficult to do so. Imran is a classical example of a political character who is irrational by default but still in the power game. lets see for how long…

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  • Truth Detector
    Aug 6, 2013 - 12:39AM

    @Muhammad I am not as connected as you are , so I have to rely on “Low-life newspapers for information”. I cannot believe , any US diplomats lives outside US embassy parameters in Islamabad. BTW, private residence is ” US Space”

    Vienna Convention :

    Article 22. The premises of a
    diplomatic mission, such as an
    embassy, are inviolate and must not be
    entered by the host country except by
    permission of the head of the mission.
    Furthermore, the host country must
    protect the mission from intrusion or
    damage. The host country must never
    search the premises, nor seize its
    documents or property. Article 30
    extends this provision to the private
    residence of the diplomats.

    Also, I am a PTI supporter but not a Kool-Aid drinker like yourself. I would say what I think is wrong. You need to cool down & think clearly.

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  • Ricky
    Aug 6, 2013 - 1:58AM

    @Muhammad: With the name you are using it is not even funny that you are playing with words. About the residence, who pays for it or who owns it? Why is it an annexed with the embassy? It is like a person does not want to go to a mosque but goes to imam’s home adjacent to the mosque! Or I did not want to go to White House but went to the residence of president in his home.
    Let us agree that being an imp leader of Pakistan IK was invited to see Kerry not to be in a room with a certain marking. He did go there and met Kerry which is fine and good for Pakistan. Let us not minimize or gloss over the imp meeting between the two leaders. You cannot say that IK met with Kerry at a neutral place like his own residence or a Pakistani hotel.

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  • Aug 6, 2013 - 3:23AM

    U write very well about imran khan i think u should meet imran khan or asad umar nd discuss with him these great five principles nd i think sir the above u mentioned about khan may be its right bt my point of view is that sir imran khan should stand on his great principles….thanks sir….

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  • Uza Syed
    Aug 6, 2013 - 3:37AM

    @Truth Detector: This is great first time experience and really honestly a joy to see that there still some people around who have the wisdom and the courage not to abdicate their right to think and to speak their mind and do so as clearly as you did right here. Bravo!

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  • gujranwala789
    Aug 6, 2013 - 3:49AM

    @Muhammad:

    your leader imran khan is master of gimmicks, his meeting with john kerry outside of US embassy was one such blatant example of his gimmickry. He would have made a point if he had altogether rejected to meet john kerry which he did not because he knows he needs to get US visa in future and having rejected meeting with kerry would have made his entry into US almost impossible in the future.

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  • Khurram kaleem
    Aug 6, 2013 - 4:08AM

    By temperament Imran khan is not a politician or a political leader he is a pace bowler .this is loud and clear by kpk performance by PTI

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  • Hassan
    Aug 6, 2013 - 4:41AM

    I may not agree with every assertion made in this article, but I think the columnist had hit the nail on the head, PTI has got to get its priorities right, and IK need to take a lead role. No need to involve in mud slinging like JUI(F), I think it is a positive for IK that JUI(F) couldn’t find any thing substantial against him and resorted to lowly tactics of personal attacks.
    Advice for PTI; focus in KPK, speak with actions not words, get the party matters in order and show us the results; we’ll vote for you in the whole of Pakistan, not just the KPK; next time around.

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  • ModiFied
    Aug 6, 2013 - 5:22AM

    “In my opinion, Imran Khan should focus on organising his party, particularly in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. The Shakespearean hero always has a tragic flaw but a Pakistani hero shouldn’t.”

    I differ slightly. First priority of IK should be to provide clean and efficient governance in KPK. This is must for his rise in political power game. If he fails to score runs and save his wickets in KPK, nothing is going to help to save his credibility in politics. CM of his party blaming someone else for not able to talk to Taliban is not a good sign of leadership qualities. IK should be able to walk into Taliban den unarmed in the middle of night, if he has faith in his peace plan. IK should read the events of 1947 when violence broke in Calcutta and how Gandhi went from home to home and ended violence within 2-3 days. Fear and leader don’t co-exist. Tactics used by Gandhi Ji can be very handy to deal with present day violence in Pakistan. Provide immunity to Taliban and invite them to Peshawar to hold direct face to face talks. Or else reach them to a place of their choice. Take the risk even if kidnapped. This single step will make him not only a national hero, but a world hero. If he can do this, he will rule Pakistan for ever.

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  • Np
    Aug 6, 2013 - 7:01AM

    @gujranwala789:
    Actually rejecting a meeting with Kerry would have made no impact on his future visas since US is governed by rule of law and such issues are decided on merit not based on how a VIP feels. But yes, as a national leader it was quite appropriate for him to meet Kerry and convey the perspective of the electorate he represents.

    Sadly though his fan club is suitably impressed with his pointless drama and so he will continue to indulge in such draamebaazi in future also.

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  • Ali S
    Aug 6, 2013 - 12:02PM

    @Rehan khan:

    Good that you acknowledge this. Now IK needs to drop his ego and realize that he has no more value than any other MNA in the political process. He is neither the opposition leader nor in any seat of power other besides MNA.

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  • OK
    Aug 6, 2013 - 1:26PM

    @Ali S:
    As Chairman of PTI, he certainly does have more value than nearly all other MNAs. I do not understand how you could make that statement.

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  • I am PTI but
    Aug 6, 2013 - 1:31PM

    I am a PTI supporter but i second the author’s views. IK is a kid and comes out with the most amateur comments. I might start supporting Fazlu bhai.

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  • capslock
    Aug 6, 2013 - 2:29PM

    The *rise * and *fall * of popularity contest of Imran Khan – Sorry I fell for you as well and voted :/

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  • Majid Akhtar
    Aug 6, 2013 - 2:57PM

    “Imran Khan neither mentioned explicitly the names of his political opponents nor the name of the particular Taliban group”

    In my opinion, he should have uncovered the said alleged plot of his assassination without blaming his ‘political opponents’ unless he had concrete evidence

    His demand to sit with both General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Nawaz Sharif is unrealistic

    Another strange public stance of Imran Khan’s is not to attend the expected All Parties Conference (APC) over the terrorism issue

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  • Aysha M
    Aug 6, 2013 - 3:50PM

    @Truth Detector:
    It is unfortunate that PTI so far has been unable to mature as political entity in the past two decades.

    When you are a passionate supporter, it genuinely hurts to see your leader in whom you have reposed all your confidence behave in a manner as IK is behaving, particularly his stance on terrorism and TTP.

    You seem to have the courage to present a dispassionate view of things. Would you also like to comment on his reaction soon after Zohra Shahid’s murder? Nobody knows what did he aim to achieve from it

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  • Uza Syed
    Aug 6, 2013 - 5:27PM

    @Aysha M: You are right, PTI has failed mature as a serious political entity and frankly I don’t care. Perhaps they could only if there were many like @Truth Dtector who value the party more than an individual and his coetri of goafers and backscratcers. It’s much distressing to see @Muhammad above forbidding any self-criticism, I wonder how long this politics of elitist mindset and their scouts and gatekeepers would continue here.

    As far as that insignificant woman the ex-member of PTI who got killed unfortunately at an unfortunate time which Imran Khan politicised and painted as a political murder to malign Altaf Husain for no rhyme or any reason. Yes, he did achieve what he aimed, namely thousands of unthinking supporters screaming thoughtless slogans against MQM. It’s shameful act of premeditated attempt at character assissination of a popular political leader. They and us all got very very lucky that MQM could successfully restrain its workers and supporters from reacting to this provocation, otherwise this could be prelude to enormous waste of blood and lives, a huge tragedy was averted by sensible leadership of MQM. One hopes that PTI and its owner, operator Imran Khan have acquired a bit of responsible politics now.

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  • Majid Akhtar
    Aug 6, 2013 - 8:51PM

    IK himself was not aware of plot. He was only communicated about a possible attack on him by militant groups. IK’s request of meeting with PM and Mr. Kiyani is sensible cause he is a man of influence at international level as well. If the underground secrets will be discussed with him he might can get the matter discussed at international level with co concerned stake holders. For heavens sake if he has turned up as a hope than let that man play according to his plans. If you find him getting monitary benefits catch him right at than but please let him do the job for Pakistan

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  • Sexton Blake
    Aug 6, 2013 - 10:21PM

    What an emotive rant of total nonsense by Shabbir Ahmad Khan. I will not go through all the writer’s illogical statements, but they are obviously designed to please people opposed to Imran Khan. He talks about the art of articulation in politics which Imran Khan would do well to learn. I think he means Inran Khan should learn from politicians who say one thing when meaning another. In other words obfuscate the truth or in plain words tell lies. He then goes on to write that Imran Khan should show restraint until a mythical inquiry eventuates. What politician does that? As an example, the day after 9/11, with very little evidence, politicians were scrambling to be heard in the media, and they do so on other multiple occurrences I think it would be safe to say that the writer is attempting to please someone in the US so that he can achieve residency status.. .

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  • Kashif Aziz
    Aug 7, 2013 - 3:39AM

    I beleive pakistani politics cannot be understood in the university research environment. These types of researches are only useful where the democratic system is more transparent and has been refined through a long, exhaustive process; where leaders are actual leaders and not terrorists or businessmen. The art of “articulation” is only applicable in developed countries where the system is smoothly running for years and where democracy has its steady and stable roots. Infact, (with no offense) our politicians are articulate enough in a way they deal with USA. Pakistan do not need any more traditional politicians, who are onlyconcerned about another 5 year tenure giving them another chance to enjoy more power and financial gains. But what Pakistan actually needs is optimistic and sincere leaders like Imran Khan. His reasons for not attending the APC (what he called it as useless) was very obvious due to his past experiences of attending APC.

    The wordings used against Judiciary are not skeptical at all. Any citizen can roar against injustice. Our tragedy is that we do not understand the meaning of institution’s independence. Independence does not mean that the professionals are independent in doing whatever they want to. Independence of an institution means, that the institution is now independent to deliver their services in the best interest of the masses.To be specific, Independent judiciary means that the courts are prepared to deliver justice rightly and on time with no intervention of any kind or from anyone whatsoever. We have seen in developed nations, professionals are responsible for the services they are delivering. Their character and conduct should be at certain level. Teachers, solicitors etc. need to have a clean criminal record, and if by any chance they are found guilty of any act which shows lack of social responsibility they can lose their jobs/licenses. But in Pakistan, any kind of authority is contemplated as power instead of responsibility. We are living in an age of technical upheaval and the whole nation has seen the evidences of massive rigging in the recent elections. The whole nation was expecting Judiciary and election commission to carry out investigations into the matter of rigging in elections. But, what happened is totally unexpected, a leader and nation is begging the judiciary to carry out the investigation.

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  • A Pakistani
    Aug 7, 2013 - 5:23AM

    Despite all constructive words from serious journos, the Taliban Khan and his trolls continue to relish in self-denial mode. They cannot and shall not tolerate any “blasphemy” and this lack of tolerance for other’s opinion is the political death of PTI.
    Rest in Peace PTI

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  • Pakistani Ostrich
    Aug 7, 2013 - 5:46AM

    Every thing you have said makes sense…but…Imran khan won the world cup all by himself…that is all the qualification required to be a cult leader.

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  • Nida
    Aug 7, 2013 - 7:02AM

    I don’t know if I should adore or loathe the assertive ways in which “Pakistani individuals” come up with bullets of criticisms towards any fellow who deviate even an inch from road leading to “fool’s heaven”!

    How come the population is possessing so much political sense on papers yet not directly climbing the podium to implement precious opinions? Perhaps they are busy dining out and sending their kids to foreign universities.

    Once an artist drew a perfect painting as per his standards and left it hanging at a public place with a note challenging the visitors to point a flaw if they find one. To his surprise, the next day he found a long list of flaws.. Heart broken artist left another note with the painting requesting the visitors to “correct the flaws and paint a better one”! This time after waiting for next 24 hrs when he went back, he was amused to find not a single amendment or correction marked.

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  • Nida
    Aug 7, 2013 - 7:20AM

    @ Uza syed

    Blockquote

    “The insignificant woman , the ex-member of PTI”, as you have mentioned makes you sound a little low(cheap) … That ” insignificant woman” was somebody’s mother or yes probably as insignificant as you would always remain.

    Pakistan is unfortunate to have so many insignificant souls who should be killed and then no one should bother… I’m not writing to fight murder case of ” the poor insignificant old lady”, I’m only surprised at how significant your comment turned out to be for 3 other like you who recommended it …

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  • Uza Syed
    Aug 7, 2013 - 3:07PM

    @Nida: Listen, I’m sorry. Yes, indeed, it’s rather stupid of me than “cheap” to call her “insignificant woman”, I sincerely apologize. Of course, you are right she must have been lot of valuable things to lot of people and her life was just as precious as us all, your & mine inclusive. Let me assure you I meant to say that she was politically insignificant and her murder was used by PTI & its owner IK to cash for political purpose.

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  • Kashif Aziz
    Aug 7, 2013 - 8:38PM

    I beleive pakistani politics cannot be understood in the university research environment. These types of researches are only useful where the democratic system is more transparent and has been refined through a long, exhaustive process; where leaders are actual leaders and not terrorists or businessmen. The art of “articulation” is only applicable in developed countries where the system is smoothly running for years and where democracy has its steady and stable roots. Infact, (with no offense) our politicians are articulate enough in a way they deal with USA. Pakistan do not need any more traditional politicians, who are onlyconcerned about another 5 year tenure giving them another chance to enjoy more power and financial gains. But what Pakistan actually needs is optimistic and sincere leaders like Imran Khan. His reasons for not attending the APC (what he called it as useless) was very obvious due to his past experiences of attending APC.

    The wordings used against Judiciary are not skeptical at all. Any citizen can roar against injustice. Our tragedy is that we do not understand the meaning of institution’s independence. Independence does not mean that the professionals are independent in doing whatever they want to. Independence of an institution means, that the institution is now independent to deliver their services in the best interest of the masses.To be specific, Independent judiciary means that the courts are prepared to deliver justice rightly and on time with no intervention of any kind or from anyone whatsoever. We have seen in developed nations, professionals are responsible for the services they are delivering. Their character and conduct should be at certain level. Teachers, solicitors etc. need to have a clean criminal record, and if by any chance they are found guilty of any act which shows lack of social responsibility they can lose their jobs/licenses. But in Pakistan, any kind of authority is contemplated as power instead of responsibility. We are living in an age of technical upheaval and the whole nation has seen the evidences of massive rigging in the recent elections. The whole nation was expecting Judiciary and election commission to carry out investigations into the matter of rigging in elections. But, what happened is totally unexpected, a leader and nation is begging the judiciary to carry out the investigation.
    By Kashif Aziz, Brierfield, UK.

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  • Irfan
    Aug 8, 2013 - 12:45AM

    The best advice IK will ever have. He must read this article daily, for his own good. Everything in this article makes perfect sense and the best thing is its all in good faith.

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  • Abid P. Khan
    Aug 16, 2013 - 4:39PM

    @Irfan:
    “The best advice IK will ever have. He must read this article daily, for his own good. Everything in this article makes perfect sense and the best thing is its all in good faith. “

    .
    Can he read? Will he? Does he posses the ability to listen to others?

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  • Sexton Blake
    Aug 16, 2013 - 11:34PM

    @Abid P. Khan:
    He probably has listened to others, but has come to realize he is wasting his time. After all others have been in charge for many years, and Pakistan is hardly a shining example of excellence. A true leader with good ideas has to use his ideas and lead without relying upon doubtful advise. If Imran Khan listens to the rhetoric of others, Pakistan will just get more of the same doubtful policies, which have dragged the country down.

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