Many opinion that Imran Khan is not fit for Pakistani politics. It has been over 10 years since his party was founded and still it has been unable to sell its manifesto or political ambitions to the people of Pakistan. They call him rude, a “political idiot” and a London playboy. His party membership rate is going down; reputed figures are leaving his party.
In my view, however to be fair to him, Imran Khan hasn’t had the advantages or probably never chose to ride with the bandwagon i.e. the establishment and their ploys, the way the leaders of other political parties have done to secure a place for themselves in Pakistani politics. Nawaz Sharif’s political career blossomed under the affectionate guardianship of the Zia regime. The 1990 elections were heavily rigged in his favor to carve out what later on came to become the revived Muslim League. Bhutto, though a true leader of the people and without taking anything away from his charisma and political sagacity, had his moments too before he separated paths with Ayub Khan to form the PPP. His emotional tirade in the General Assembly won many hearts back home. And then his party was the only alternative to the establishment in West Pakistan. Which other political party save the Jamaat-e-Islami, whose rhetoric has never played well to the masses tune, was out on the scene? All said, Bhutto was definitely a leader to reckon with and he can easily be one personality to look up to for budding politicians, Imran Khan for instance.
Secondly, just recently in an interview, Imran Khan answered the doubts of many, including me about his party being a one-man show. Tehrik-e- Insaf is Imran Khan and Imran Khan is Tehrik-e-Insaf. No one ever hears from any party member and besides itself being a negative point, many of his supporters wonder how can he possibly think of getting seats in the National Assembly without publicizing his party leaders. He said that since people generally like to hear from ministers or MNAs and because he doesn’t have any in his party except for himself, he’s the only person who gets called to TV shows. Other bigger parties have loads of them in their ranks so everyone knows about the number 2s and the 3s and the 4s. Then where to start from? Well, in traditional Pakistani politics, tow the line of the establishment and you get your seats and truck loads of MNAs. That is one thing, I for one would not expect from him.
Whatever his past affiliations with the Musharraf regime, his public apology has cleared his record. Probably it’s because of his unrelenting policy towards the military establishment, at least since the referendum; he is considered non pragmatic and an unfit in the Pakistani political scene. What flexibility and clarity of perspective can be demanded from a politician who has gone with the Maulvis when it was about the Waziristan imbroglio or sat down with the ARD when democracy was concerned? His issues are clear; clearer than many other politicians that we hear on TV. His past record is clean of any weaknesses that may be exploited by any military general or political party. The deal between Nawaz Sharif and the government or an understanding as he would like it to be called, for an example of recent times will always be a blot on his face as far as his sincerity to a democratic setup is concerned, and which has been very neatly been exploited by the government to the extent that yesterday the Saudi government, which had been quite till now, has advised Nawaz Sharif to stand by his agreement. That mixes a sour flavor to the welcome reception that is being prepared for the return of Nawaz Sharif.
For the older generations, Imran Khan is a little too non traditional. For the younger lot serious about politics, a vote for Imran Khan runs the risk of being wasted in this big run for democracy. But then, doesn’t every vote count? Can this be the change that the politics wearied Pakistanis are looking for?