Imran Khan Pakistan : A Personal History

Alphabet_When Anne Penketh, AGI’s contributor wrote about Imran Khan in November , she asked,  Is the former Pakistan cricket captain ready for the captaincy of his country?

Khan founded PTI in 1996, while married to British heiress Jemima Goldsmith, on an anti-corruption platform. It was a rich seam to mine, and in the era of President George W. Bush the CIA drone attacks on the tribal areas bordering on Afghanistan – stepped up by President Obama – provided him with another major campaign theme.  He claims that Pakistan’s participation in the Bush “war on terror” has destroyed the country. He told Penkenth back in 2008 that the attacks targeting the Pakistan Taliban had been counter-productive, leading to a “factory of terror” and “approximately one million” people taking up arms in the tribal areas.

His party has a history of boycotting elections, including the 2008 general election and by-elections in Punjab last February. In 2002, he won the only PTI parliamentary seat (and resigned as an MP in 2007). His party remains untested at a national level, says Samina Ahmed, the Islamabad-based South Asia project director of the International Crisis Group.

But there is no doubt that Khan,has shaken up Pakistani politics by appealing to young, mostly urban voters disaffected with the traditional patronage-based politics.

She wondered about the long-term effect on sections of Pakistani youth from Khan’s constant anti­-American rhetoric. “Will they think America is the root of all evil, will they be radicalized?”

Khan’s sympathy for the military – blamed for the country’s dysfunctional government over decades – and association with the jihadi Pakistan Defence Council have also been criticised.

But there is no doubt that Khan,has shaken up Pakistani politics by appealing to young, mostly urban voters disaffected with the traditional patronage-based politics. The civilian political landscape has long been dominated by the Pakistan People’s Party of current President Asif Ali Zardari, and the Pakistan Muslim League-N of Nawaz Sharif. They were stunned when more than a hundred thousand people turned out in October 2011 at a rally in Lahore in support of PTI. Khan, with his craggy good looks, is now Pakistan’s most popular politician after the late Benazir Bhutto.

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In his bookPakistan: A Personal History,he says,

Alphabet_Blank Face, Face with No expression, that’s what I remember. About twenty of them have surrounded me and a few were pushing e. I asked them, “What is it you want? Do you know what you are doing? ‘ I could see some has pistol. Beyond the locked gates of the courtyard, people were shoving and shouting. More crowds of students peered down at me from the window of the floors that ran round the quadrangle as they see what was happening. I was furious. My political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf was allied to this group as students has surrounded me were in the Islamic Jamiat –e-Tuleba (IJT) , the students’ wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami.” (Extracts from first Chapter of  Pakistan: A Personal History

My wish comes to my lips as supplication- May my life be like a lighted candle, O God! Iqbal words left a permanent imprint on the minds of the children who heard it. However, over time, this prayer ceased to be broadcast, and today there are very few children who are familiar with it. Though Iqbal lived in a historical context was different from ours in several ways, what he said remains profoundly relevant to us and to our times, In fact, Iqbal’s message is more relevant to us and to our times.– Redescovering Iqbal: Pakisatn’s Symbol and a Template for Our Future.

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