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Thursday, September 29, 2011

In defence of Imran Khan

Imran Khan has always confronted the proverbial question ‘will he make it?’ in whatever he has set out to do. That was the question when his team was losing in the earlier stages of the World Cup of 1992, but he was the proud recipient of the coveted trophy at the concluding ceremony. The same was the haunting question when he launched “Imran’s Tigers” to build a cancer hospital in memory of his mother. He succeeded in building the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital — one of the most acclaimed institutions known for its professional expertise and its humanitarian consideration, as it treats more than 75 per cent of its patients free of cost. This question again haunted him when he announced plans to build a university in one of the most backward areas of the country. The university, an affiliate of the UK-based University of Bradford, is there for all to see in Mianwali, as it disseminates quality education in a variety of disciplines.
George Fulton, in his article of September 22 titled “Yes we Khan”, wrote that Imran’s persona and the party were interchangeable and this springs from the preconceived notion of seeing only the corrupt as political leaders. One concedes that the PTI has none of this breed, and indeed will never have. But Mr Fulton fails to see the many bright faces that adorn the party. They may not be the likes of those who have traditionally indulged in denuding this country of its countless riches and enormous potential. They are professionals who all have earned a name for their capabilities and capacities to deliver.
Mr Fulton erroneously calls Imran’s idealism as ‘naivety’. This is the approach that has worked and delivered for him in the most trying of circumstances. And why should it not deliver now? Just because his battle is now in the realm of politics, where Imran is confronted with a pack of vultures and opportunists who see him as a potent threat to their fiefdom? Should he change course just to get into power and end up doing nothing — like all the political entities have done before him? What then would be the difference between him and the corrupt lot that he opposes so vehemently and correctly? If Mr Fulton looks at his appraisal once more to understand the deepset malaise that afflicts Pakistan, he too would come to the conclusion that if one is to bring genuine change here compromise with criminals and marauders is not the way.
At this critical juncture of its history, Pakistan needs an honest and incorruptible leader who would be able to lead by example. A corrupt leader would lead only by way of corruption. We have a string of them here — leaders with billions stashed away paying a miserly Rs 5,000 as annual income tax, or nothing at all. Pakistan is reeling under the debris of such corruption bequeathed upon it by an endless stream of inept rulers. Do we want to continue heaping humiliation upon the country and its people?
Because of the lack of credibility of successive leaderships that have ruled Pakistan, it has lost face internationally. Its word is not trusted and its intentions doubted. To correct that, Pakistan must have a leadership that would spell confidence among the international community and promote the self-respect of the poor people of the country.
It is with his credibility that he would be able to gel this nation into a powerful tool to fight and defeat the forces of obscurantism. He is a person who believes in moving forward and has no skeletons in the cupboard to draw him back. His growing popularity has cast a spell of doom on all his opponents who are lined up outside his door seeking an alliance or a ‘deal’. Imran says no not because he is proud, or naïve, but because he has taken upon himself a challenge that would be insurmountable if he were to follow a policy of compromise. He is the harbinger of change that the people of this country have waited for.
By Raoof Hasan Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th,  2011.