Published in Pakistan Today on 28th November 2013 titled:
Perspective on Pakistani politics –
Imran Khan vs the rest
By: Omer Zaheer Meer
Machiavelli in his acknowledged masterpiece “Il Principe” (translated as “The Prince” in English) has outlined a number of political clichés. Most of these are practiced by the ruling class in Pakistan. While they may be suitable to the pursuit of personal power, their cost is compromising on national interests and all that is good about a considerate human society.
We have the ultimate torch-bearer in Mr. Asif Ali Zardari who has practiced the Machiavellian style of politics like never before in Pakistan. Not only did he manage to assess the “prices” of major stakeholders in the systems be it his allies or foes, he actually used them in a way to ensure completion of his tenure, the first time a democratically elected government did so in Pakistan. The chaos, disasters and calamities faced by Pakistan are, however, a different story. No one in power stopped Mr. Zardari from plunging Pakistan in the depths of misery for all those who could, had their share of the pie. All, that is, except one political leader, Mr. Imran Khan.
The infamous “wikileaks” which exposed the ruling classes across the globe also confirmed what most Pakistanis already knew, that their traditional leaders were docile to US even if not sell-outs. While Mr. Zardari was busy assuring Americans that nothing will be done without their consent, the ex-PM Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani confirmed his support for the US drone strikes killing innocent Pakistanis while hypocritically issuing public condemnations. Moulana Fazl-ur-Rehman hosted a dinner for American ambassador to try to win over US “support”. The US ambassador Anne Patterson commented afterwards: “He has made it clear that … his still significant number of votes are up for sale”. Perhaps most shocking but lesser known is that the current PM Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif assured the American Ambassador of his loyalty to America by recalling his prior “services” (from Aimal Kansi to supporting the USA stance in Iraq-Iran war, e.t.c.) Mr. Sharif repeatedly told the US ambassador he was “pro-American”, despite his critical public stance as per Guardian. He thanked the US for “arranging” to have Kayani appointed as army chief too. In the midst of them all there’s only one exception Mr. Imran Khan. Americans described him as not under their influence and “lecturing” them about the issues and Pakistan’s national interests.
More recently Mr. Azam Hoti exposed the dual faces of ANP’s top leadership including Mr. Asfand-Yar-Wali, who were selling Pakistan’s national interests to USA for dollars while Imran Khan was challenging American administration to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty. Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who rarely tours Pakistan and cannot survive without bullet proof cars and screens has the audacity to hypocritically call the only political leader who mingles in public without fear and security screens despite threats to his life as “Buzdil”. It’s iconic as Imran Khan has been amongst his people at every major crisis be it bombings, sectarian violence or other unfortunate incidents while Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on the rare occasions he does visit Pakistan, is confined to limited movements under extreme security. Perhaps Bilawal will learn in due time that badmouthing opponent leaders of international stature not only negatively affects his own image but can also backfire politically. It’s however interesting how all the pro status-co forces have united against Imran Khan, behaving with a belief that he is not a man anymore but a phenomenon.
Khan defied the traditions of corrupt-politics when he recently ended his alliance with “Qoumi Watan Party” of Mr. Sherpao due to corruption by two of his ministers. He ensured they were removed even if he had to let go of the KPK government. This is unprecedented in Pakistan where corruption has become the norm of the day, decaying the country. Here, those who claim to hang the corrupt, end-up attending their farewells and providing assurances, being in the same boat of corruption. They are obviously threatened by such precedents and accuse Imran of trying to get “rid” of KPK government. This is another example of baseless propaganda as his record confirms that he never backed off in the face of adversity.
Even more recently Khan put the national interests before politics by not using the unfortunate incident in Rawalpindi for political mileage at the height of sectarian tensions. Most other parties would have jumped on such a drastic failure of their main rival; in this instance PMLN led Punjab Government.
Being the only politician having his property and investments within Pakistan he is often attacked for his sons’ British residency without the rational view that being minors they are living with their mother, as per Islamic law. Strange is that those same politicians would not answer about their billions amassed abroad in addition to their adult heirs. It is also conveniently forgotten that he had to sacrifice his marriage for his country as Ms. Jemmima Khan was accused in politically motivated fake cases and could not remain in Pakistan while he was not prepared to leave the country.
His faith and honesty has won him many fans. Recently when he showed the real picture of the tragedies culminating from the illegal drone aggression on Pakistan, even Mr. John Kerry was impressed that a Pakistani politician can stand-up for the national pride and dare to challenge the American narrative in front of them.
A leader is someone with a vision and courage to guide a nation even against the popular public discourse, like Imran Khan did. His unchanged stance on the war on terror saw him named “Taliban Khan”, hailed as a visionary and then again termed as “HakimUllah’s supporter” at the turn of the events but he did not weaver. It’s ironic that while some liberal extremists accused Imran of being a Taliban apologist, the likes of Maulana Fazal-Ur-Rehman accused him of being a Jewish agent. Those having nothing in common unifying against Khan without a common principle speaks a lot about the righteous path he’s chosen. Time is proving how right he has been with the confirmation of the extreme economic, social and human losses suffered by Pakistan. While Americans are busy negotiating next door with Afghan Taliban, Pakistan’s accumulated financial losses to economy are estimated at $ 100 billion (much more than the total foreign debt), per month losses are PKR 90 Billion approximately with over 45,000 lost lives. The nation is finally waking up to the mess we’ve been put into.
The writer is a leading economist who is also a qualified chartered accountant, financial analyst and anti-money laundering expert. He can be reached on Twitter and http://www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or firstname.lastname@example.org