Published in Pakistan Today on 3rd December 2013
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Perspective on Pakistani politics (II)
– Imran Khan vs the rest
By: Omer Zaheer Meer
Then again we know it is the same Imran Khan who began his journey to fame by challenging the commonly held notions through hard-work, faith and utmost dedication.
He was told he can never be a fast bowler due to physical issues yet the world witnessed the greatness he achieved. Pakistan were deemed not to have even an outside chance at the crown jewel of cricket mid-way into the 92 cricket world cup but he led the team like cornered tigers and succeeded in fetching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Another mile stone was achieved for Pakistan when Khan was once again told about another impossible. This time the leading medical experts opined that a cancer hospital with mostly free services was not even feasible in USA let alone Pakistan yet today we all know about the glorious standards and services emanating from Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCHRC) which has won several excellence awards servicing about 75% of its patients for free.
Imran Khan then focused his attention on the much neglected area of education. He dreamed of creating a world standard institute ultimately transforming into a knowledge city where education and degrees of international standards would be conferred upon students. Further he as usual wanted the doors of this opportunity to be open for those less fortunate segments of our society who could not afford such a dream otherwise. That is why Namal College, the only college in Pakistan to offer a foreign degree, came into being. As Chancellor of Bradford University (UK), Khan set-up links between it and Namal College. As with SKMCHRC, deserving students are provided with free education. Namal is on its way to becoming the first education city of Pakistan in one of the least-developed part of the country.
After delivering in fields ranging from sports to health to education there was still a sense of un-fulfilment resulting from a caring heart disturbed at the massive miseries of a nation in the clutches of ruthless rulers feasting on its resources. It was then that Imran Khan realized that he cannot bring the kind of positive change in the lives of ordinary Pakistanis that he dreamed of. But politics was an ultimate challenge for an honest and non-corrupt person facing the traditional linchpins; the adherents of Machiavelli who would go to any extend to save their fiefdoms built on the carnage of human misery. But Khan has never backed off in the face of adversity. And so began the journey of Change via PTI.
The relentless efforts of a struggle spanning 17 years is a tale of utmost commitment, dedication and perseverance in the face of stiff resistance by forces opposed to change.
First time in the history of not only Pakistan but entire South-Asian region, proper and large-scale intra-party elections were held as per the true democratic norms. This was unprecedented and a slap on the faces of traditional parties who continue to act as family limited companies.
The way Imran Khan galvanized youth is unprecedented in Pakistan. It ensured that other parties realized the importance of youth and started projects to entice youth, the credit for which ultimately goes to Imran too. He made the youth realized their own importance and how they need to take matters in their own hands to change the destiny of Pakistan. That indifference was no longer a feasible option.
The infamous “tsunami” hit the overseas Pakistanis much before it arrived in Pakistan. Having firsthand experienced the facilities offered by welfare states, the rights given and the liberties offered, they were the first to affirm Imran’s message of Change for a better Pakistan. They worked day and night for the cause. First time a political party in Pakistan had a base of paid members. Donations of millions of dollars poured in from all over the world. This was all evident of the faith; the brightest and affluent of Pakistan’s children have in Imran Khan.
Some people criticize some mistakes made and Imran Khan has shown the courage to openly accept when there is one, another sign of great leadership. With survival of status-co at stake local, regional as well as international players have invested heavily in the media. If we follow the money trail it becomes obvious that the disproportionate and often distorted criticism of Imran Khan is at the behest of these vested interests.
Despite any drawbacks in PTI, for no human(s) in this age can be perfect, even the worst of his critics agree that he is still the best available option for Pakistan. He is the only one politician who gave Pakistan a lot and even sacrificed his own family life for that. Above all, Imran Khan gave hope and self-respect to a disillusioned nation and politically motivated those, specially the youth, who were indifferent to the process defining their nation’s future.
Imran Khan’s stance on drones and war on terror has remained unchanged. When USA hit the peace dialogues with another drone, despite been in KPK government, Khan stood up for his promises and stance. He refused to compromises whatever may be the cost. A historic public gathering marked the beginning of protests and sit-ins to block supply to NATO via KPK sending out a very strong message to USA to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty. However PMLN’s response was incongruous. Instead of standing by their stance during election campaign and last few years, albeit developed following the lead of Imran Khan, they took a U-turn and opposed his brave move. One can be forgiven for confusing PMLN with PPPP as it put forward the exact arguments PPPP used to and which PMLN had oppose vehemently before coming into power.
Let us rise above any prejudices and self-interests and ask ourselves whether any other politician except Imran Khan has given so much to Pakistan in terms of fame, recognition, social work, awareness, self-respect and hope? Is there any other politician(s) who has done even a fraction of what Imran has done for this nation without been in power? Is there any other leader whose honesty, courage and positive intent are beyond doubt? Is there any current political leader who has even sacrificed his family life for Pakistan?
If your answer is, and any neutral answer will be, that there is no such politician except Imran Khan then it is high time that we unify to strengthen his hands and work together to make our Pakistan better under his leadership.
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 www.myMFB.com @OmerZaheerMeer or firstname.lastname@example.org