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Imran Khan's Metaphor 'Tsunami' is a Misnomer

27 February, 2012

By Saeed Qureshi


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The term variously used by the chief of the Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) Imran Kahn, as a signature symbol and a promotional slogan for his hyping political campaigning is patently a misnomer. The energy and optimism filled chief of PTI, is mistakenly using the term Tsunami to portray a colossal change that his party aims to bring about in Pakistan. Tsunami is a natural disaster for destruction while Imran Khan means a constructive change of the tsunami proportions.

As such while he is trying to project himself as a revolutionary and a national redeemer, he is inadvertently claiming to be a prophet of doom and trumpet blower of a catastrophe as the world witnessed in utter horror, in Japan last year.

He would be well advised to modify his catchy phrases employed to gravitate and lure the people of Pakistan towards his party. A common man who likes him and might be favorably inclined to vote for his party is, believably ignorant of the essence and destructive nature of this term. When this huge tidal wave sweeps across the coastal line, it destroys and levels off anything that comes in its fold. The tsunamis are agents or catalysts of pillage, death and destruction and not the kind of salubrious changes as being attributed by Imran Khan to this metaphor.

Imran Khan, perhaps harbors the misconceived notion that the Tsunami sweeps and washes away the rot, waste, filth and squalid stuff spread over the coastal areas or beaches, and makes them clean and sparkling. The outcome of Tsunami is however the opposite of this convoluted view, because the galloping sheet of water litters the area with huge stockpiles of debris of fallen houses and trees; carcasses of both humans and animals and thick layers of slush and mud.

As we all know the natural disasters mainly floods, earthquakes and wildfires, do not discriminate between the followers of God and the disciples of Satan or in simpler phraseology the good and the bad people or the virtuous and the sinners. The Tsunamis with their mammoth tidal waves overlap everything in their way: humans, dwellings, the trees, the industrial infrastructure and even the nuclear reactors as the Tsunami of March11, 2011 did in Japan.

Besides other horrifying destruction, it knocked down the three reactors in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. The tsunami generated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake caused 16000 deaths, damaged around 125000 buildings and hurled an estimated loss of $ 35 billion. A staggering amount of $ 400 billion was pooled by Bank of Japan and the World Bank for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

However, the deadliest earthquake that occurred in the recent history was the so called, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, (also labeled as South Asian Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, and Boxing Day Tsunami). That 98 feet Monstrous wave killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Thailand besides the main hardest-hit Indonesia.

There have happened in history, countless tsunamis both recorded and unrecorded and none of these were beneficial either for men or the environement. Some of these as that of 2004 Indian Ocean  and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan have been so powerful as to jolt and shift the earth's axis by a few centimeters.

It would be certainly desirable and rather preferable if Imran Khan replaces the metaphor of Tsunami by a plausible, more meaningful and candid epithet. These could “Pakistan Spring”, the Pakistan Revolution or Grassroots revolution, the “People's Revolution” or similar expressions to drive more emphasis and meaning into what Mr. Khan and his party stands for.

Imran Khan being a relatively fresh entrant in political arena, with a clean reputation is decidedly appealing to the masses that throng to his party's rallies and public meetings in large numbers. He offers hopes for setting right the mess and chaos that have caved into the foundations of Pakistan. The people, on the whole are, disgruntled with the traditional lot of politicians that have been tried several times before, and who despite their tall pledges for betterment, protect and nurse the ruinous status quo when in power.

Perpetuation in self aggrandizement, safeguarding clannish interests and monetary enrichment through fair and fouls means, remain their driving penchants. As such the hyperbolic slogans and the bloated manifestoes of the parties for transforming Pakistan into a stable, viable, strong and sovereign state with a modern and thriving society have remained unfulfilled. Deplorably, the ground situation has remained without any change except for the worse.

It would be an unnecessary refrain and futile repetition to enumerate the limitless sufferings of the hapless people of Pakistan ranging from a dirty, primitive, degrading environment to denial or shortage of basic utilities and social services that make a society modern and progressive.

The leaders at the helm, the parliamentarians, the army generals, the senior bureaucrats and the individuals in powerful positions ignore the woes of the people and busy themselves in nepotism, cronyism, milking the nation exchequer, granting contracts to the highest bribe givers, raising their allowances and manipulating hefty development funds.

So in such a persistently bleak and hope-drained milieu, when a ray of hope appears on the horizon, the people welcome it readily.  In case of Imran Khan, it is primarily uncertain, if he could win the general elections and muster enough electoral strength to form a government of his party. In case of a divided popular mandate, he will have to forge a coalition government.

In a coalition set up, one can have neither a free will nor independence in making the desired and far reaching decisions. If he cannot attain the majority, the dream and drive of transforming the destiny of the people of Pakistan and taking the country out of the dire straits, would remain unrealized and elusive.

The paramount question that stares right in our face is: where would then we go from here? It could be to strive for a change by spearheading a Pakistan spring like the one sweeping across the Arab world.  In that situation, the ordinary citizens will face state repression and brutality unleashed by the coterie in power.

In case, the reprehensible status quo remains intact and the traditional politicians return to power, is Imran Khan and his party ready to mobilize people, launch a countrywide movement to usher bedeviled Pakistan into an era of real revolution. Only then he can do away with the moribund governance and remodel Pakistan.

He should know that a revolution like Arab Spring is not a garden party. It comes through countless sacrifices, after a long drawn struggle by the masses under a committed leadership and indeed by facing the bloodshed carried out by the ruling clique.


The writer is a senior journalist and a former diplomat.

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