You may raise a finger at his youthful salad days. You may castigate the ever changing angles of his politics. You can maul his double standards, criticize his way of criticizing others, while his own performance at KPK remains by no means promising. There are a hundred and ten ways by which he can be taken to task. But notwithstanding these foibles and blunders, people do like him. They welcome his call, they nod yes to his yes, they throng his rallies with a flood of emotions singing songs for change.
Just take the example of the recent balloting at NA-149 and the victory reaped by the PTI backed independent candidate, Malik Amir Dogar. Didn’t people in the vicinity know that Malik Amir Dogar was the chip off an old traditional feudal block? His father, Malik Salah ud din Dogar, has been MPA for three consecutive terms from 1985 to 1993, and is now a senator. His uncle, Malik Liaquat was MNA during 2002-07. Malik Amir himself has been Nazim and Naib Nazim during Musharraf’s rule, and also MPA later in PPP’s tenure. Just last year, his affiliation was with the PPP, but now he carries the soft pat of the party that has sent jitters down the spines of the PML-N.
Then you may quiz if this party with so many contradictions within itself can bring freedom from the old shackles of feudalism, corruption and nepotism. However, amidst all these shortcomings, the PTI with Imran Khan as its spearhead has been on rapid rise.
Search for the reasons. Rummage through the muddle of the old traditional kind of politics, and strive to locate the difference that Imran Khan has created. The important thing is that he has impacted upon the educated stratum of society. This class has become disgruntled over the state of politics in Pakistan. Now they are much more into it, and dream to wedge a change in an otherwise stale system. I have seen tongues wagging at the melodious beats heralding a promised revolution in lives.
I have lately visited many universities, colleges and schools; and on every visit, I hold talks with teachers and students. What I find is that all are charged with the politics of change.
Mr. Khan’s ascent is not sudden. He faced failures, lampoons, character assassinations and he stood firm. He couldn’t bag a single seat in 1997 but secured one in 2002. During all these years, he kept building upon his image. If he erred, he confessed. He also confessed his mistake for supporting Musharraf’s referendum.
His standing against the huge giants of the status quo secured considerable space for him. For example, his detention by IJT in Punjab University and subsequent protests against this strong student union never let it raise its head after that. His vociferous allegations against Altaf Hussain were the first to break open the fear to raise a voice at political forums against the persecutions of the MQM. Amongst many factors contributing to earn kudos for Mr. Khan was also his unwavering stand against drones strikes by pilotless predators inside Pakistan’s territory. His images of sleeping swaddled in quilt, outstretched in an open field during his demonstration at Peshawar against drone-strikes won him much breadth in the local political arena.
The 30th of October, 2011, proved landmark in the history of Pakistan. This was the day that substantiated the strength of PTI. Here, Mr. Khan emerged as a force that could potentially challenge the decades bound sterile institutional customs set by the official state of affairs. Since then, he kept moving forth with no return.
Now he stands against the alleged rigging in the May 2013 elections. The journey to lodge protests against the rigging as well as the corrupt system started off on the 14th of August, and still continues on track. Mr. Khan climbs the container at D-Chowk in Islamabad everyday, where his sojourn has exceeded a historic 100 plus days – and brings novel tales of pecuniary corruption churned and propped up by the system symbolized by Nawaz Sharif and his cohorts.
Khan is unfailingly giving sleepless nights to the federal government. He does what he pledges – this is where the N-league always underestimates him. This steadfastness on the part of Mr. Khan seems to know no way back from the stand he took prior to the 14th of August.
Like Hemingway’s Santiago, he has taken his ship into waters so deep where there is no coming back without grace. Santiago in the novel says, “I will fight till I die.” So exhibiting the same kind of resolve, Imran Khan has recently said, “Those who have seen me in cricket, they know I always fight till the end.”
You and I may criticize his plan A, B and the tumultuous plan C, but the fact remains that his narrative is selling. People, not to say the educated middle and upper class, listen to him, pay heed to him, and are ready to put all their weight behind the movement. The movement has gained considerable steam. Tougher days ahead will test the nerve and mettle of the federal government. You and I can keep our fingers crossed for whatever comes out from the present political cinders will illuminate the future of Pakistan.
The writer is a lecturer at Punjab Group of Colleges, Lahore. He can be contacted at email@example.com