By Dr. NADIA KHAN
The career of Imran Khan, a cricketer turned politician, is full of colours, contradictions, and controversies. Since his debut in cricket in 1971 initially, and later in 1976 onward, he became known as a socialite due to his non-stop partying at London nightclubs such as Annabel's and Tramp and further gained notoriety in London gossip columns for romancing young debutantes such as Susannah Constantine, Lady Liza Campbell and the artist Emma Sergeant. Then came Sita White; her paternity claim in NY court of law for Tyrian Khan, to be the daughter of Imran Khan, that fully exposed the former World Cup winner in the eyes of common Pakistanis beside being his philanthropic work of Shaukat Khannum Hospital.
With this flamboyant past, he entered the politics in 1996 with emphasis on anti-corruption policies, formed Pakistan Tahreek e Insaaf (PTI) and tried to broker a deal with the then dictator, Pervaiz Musharraf to take the powerful portfolio. It didn’t work well even with all foreign blessings; hence he walked out from National Assembly (2002-7) where he had only one seat. Partially his involvement in Lawyers Movement, to restore Ifthikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had given PTI & himself a life line to take some ground in active politics & gain some popularity. His initial stance over missing persons, Dr. Afia Siddiqui’s disappearance, her unlawful detention & then single-sided trial in US, drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan, and louder voice over Baluchistan issues, have transformed him from power-hungry aristocratic drawing-room politics to people’s politics!
After the success of his Lahore political-cum musical show, number of his supporters often called him as Prime Minister-in-waiting, had gained some extra confidence by calling himself as the 3rd political force in Pakistan who would sweep coming general elections. He termed his success as Tsunami – a pseudo name given after 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that was the deadliest natural disaster in human history that killed around 230,000 people in 14 countries, likely calling his upcoming political gains as Tsunami against traditional politicians.
Unfortunately, even before this Tsunami begins, Imran Khan started taking U –turns against his own pre-defined political policies and opened PTI doors wide for all feudal politicians of past, especially close aides of former dictator. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khurshid Kusuri, Jehangir Tareen, Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali are few old friends of Musharraf, to name with the exception of Javed Hashmi, joined hands with Imran Khan to become the part of upcoming political Tsunami. Someone rightly pointed out that “with the induction of so many Musharraf’s ministers in today’s’ Imran PTI looks like that Imran has joined Q league.” In coming years, this might turn out to be a real threat when Imran Khan’s voice -in his own PTI- would be considered feeble due to the presence of large number of Musharraf friends.
Those they had watched Khurshid Kasuri PTI joining ceremony, had noticed an amazing act of chairs snatching by the participants. Rather than guiding the voters, this shameful-act was shamelessly endorsed by PTI secretary information Shafqat Mahmood & chairman Imran Khan, as an act of “innocent people” because they are fed up of Zardari regime; so “they might take away chairs of govt. office bearers.” This is a clear indication that how Imran Khan will be swept by Musharraf’s friends when the need of time would come!
His second u-turn came when he had brokered a ‘silent deal’ with Altaf Hussain, leader of MQM who controls Karachi from London, to arrange his public meeting in Karachi on 25thDecember 2011 leaving behind all the hot conversation he has had against MQM founding leader and an ambition to file a case against him in London court. It was learnt that he had an out of court settlement with MQM and agreed that“Sita White case will not be brought to justice in US by MQM and in reply he will not file petition against Altaf Hussain in London .” This “settlement” was visible in Karachi while addressing his supporters; Imran Khan did not utter single word about MQM leader, forgetting his own previous statements about later & MQM atrocities on 12thMay 2007, when numbers of PTI workers were killed by Mutahidda terrorists! His stance against MQM self-exiled leader has created doubts that “hidden” hands are brining MQM and PTI closure for upcoming electoral alliance against PML (N) and ruling PPP.
In past, Imran Khan had always raised his voice against the drone attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan . Under the shadows of “Salalah check post attack by US & NATO forces,” recent statement of US ambassador, Cameron Munter that “Imran Khan is not against US” has astonished large section of society in Pakistan who foresees Imran as hardliner against US policies in the region. However it was observed that US ambassador statement came up only when Imran Khan has quietly visited US state department and expressed “his case” to Washington; an act known to very few in Pakistan and even in the folds of PTI. Probably, this was the reason due to that Imran Khan didn’t attend Difa e Pakistan rally, the public meeting arranged by 40 religious parties in Lahore on 18th December 2011, to pass a soft message to US at this crucial juncture of time when Zardari-led PPP govt is shacking due to a small piece of paper penned by an American!
Imran Khan has always been at the forefront of highlighting missing persons issue including Dr Aafia's case. In one of his speech he had demanded that “the Government of Pakistan tell us how Dr Aafia ended up in Afghanistan with her three children; how can a frail woman attack US marines; why has the Government of Pakistan not taken any active measures to bring her back home to face any trial. The Government needs to expose those who have aided and abetted the kidnapping of Dr Aafia,” while he was referring Pervaiz Musharraf govt. After that he has asked PTI members to actively participate in demonstrations, vigils across the globe. Upon his directive Mohammad Kassam, member of PTI UK was one of the several people who had kept the 7 day vigil outside the US Embassy, spending up to 20 hours in the wet weather of London . In recent days, the world has witnessed that the foreign minister of Pervaiz Musharraf regime who has joined PTI recently, while addressing one of the public meeting was sitting next to Imran Khan at the stage where as down among the crowd, there were one or two flags showing few slogans about the release of Afia Siddiqui but Imran Khan didn’t say few words about Dr Afia’s case or her release from US custody! Time has changed; a leader is born & gained popularity by using these burning issues and now no need to look upon these forgotten souls!
Could Imran Khan be the real saviour of people of Pakistan or Pakistanis are going to witness same old wine in a new bottle with fancy cricket label having singers like Abrar ul Haq and Shahzad Roy selling his political agenda over popular Pakistani national tunes! Time will confirm that anti-corruption policies were just few words to gain popularity or actual agenda of PTI to implement, the shadows of flamboyant past are still visible or re born under the banner of musical nights, a real saviour of Pakistan has arrived or Mr. 20% has arrived after Mr. 10%, would history has repeated itself when someone has accepted the help of hidden hands of establishment or used the shoulder of common men to gain power!!!!
Any party -new or old- with slogan of “change” how they could bring positive change in society when they have migratory birds like PPPP former foreign minister, Musharraf’s former foreign minister or bunch of kings’ party holders, would have to think as why these traditional politicians are strengthening the hands of a gentleman who only won one seat in any general elections? The answer is simple in Pakistani environment. The traditional politicians are very sensible, since then they realized that the “powerful hand” is on Imran Khan’s head, they know that the power would fall on him, so they started gathering around him to share the piece of cake; Pakistan. That’s what the political history of Pakistan is, since last 60 years!