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A legendary cricketer a messiah or an illusion?

04 April, 2011

By Amjad Malik

A legendary cricketer Imran Khan a messiah or an illusion?
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A columnist in Pakistan has pitched Imran Khan as the captain who can sail the ship of Pakistan into smooth waters, and in the threatening tone nailed Sharif’s and pitched khan as an alternate, to which I beg to differ. I met Imran Khan with a legal team of British lawyers on 9 June 2007 at his Richmond residence when he was about to sue MQM Veteran leader for 12th May massacre and I formed a view which to date has never changed. Since then I met him at a conference organised by International Bar Assoc in Brussels and heard him at various news outlets but my view remained intact.

Columnist has shown prejudice out rightly when he compared Khan with Sharif’s and did not carry out a blanching exercise as both are different Kettle of fish and from different class and creed. One a hero with massive passion and support of cricket fans/youth and others entrepreneurs and politicians who have a vote bank. One had a vast administration experience being twice prime Minister and the other has yet to embark and ride the horse of Govt. Independent judiciary, vibrant media, free election commission, widening the tax net and democracy amongst political parties may pave way for a sovereign parliament flowing good governance and leadership, that is the dream which many millions in Pakistan are seeing and Imran Khan is selling too.

Let’s see can he deliver as the columnist pitched. I have had the opportunity to advise both. I think let’s be clear that Mian Nawaz Sharif may not be a saint but claim of sanity of Imran khan is yet to be tested too at the altar of public confidence. Fact is that Nawaz Sharif was twice elected premier is in itself a fact of his public confidence on two separate occasions. If we do not dwell on personal criticism, we can safely say that Article 62 not only apply to slashing public funds, tax evasion, forged degrees, target killings alone but also on profligacy and debauchery. Captain is an ambitious young and impatient politician, who only knows do or die but at the spot which is a dangerous tendency in politics. Politics is an art of turning impossible into possible with patience, wisdom and public support. Khan in haste gets mesmerised and later messed around by the people whom he is relying on for power.

He would have easily made his place, by now had he joined in alliance with his think alike forces (any one of them). Had he done that, by now he would have matured enough to gain some formidable respect and support in serious public who cast votes and would have avoided political blunders. His political decision are not flawless either. He showed support to Gen Musharraf’s referendum, and later regretted. He did not accept premiership post as Q league leaders were corrupt to him because he did not wish to lead a ship whose sailors were all corrupt. Later he regretted parting ways with Chaudharys of Punjab and reconciled. You never know he forms an alliance with them too. Above all, a nasty reversal as his politics revolved for sometimes on the issue of ridding Karachi from ‘mafia’ and to some he wanted to teach a lesson. Though, he could not bring a legal action, rather he congratulated MQM boss for his loyalty to the cause of accountability and sovereignty.

Of course MQM was part of the Govt throughout these last 9 years, and Khan’s move to annoy MQM was productive as they contributed to issuing an exclusion orders banning his entry in Karachi putting his name on unprecedented entry control list and all Karachi was wall chalked exhibiting his past. He was wrong then or now is a matter for public. 

I would judge a leader from character , conduct, and past experiences. Imran Khan may have escaped the net of his past flamboyant character, but his dealing in his personal life is murky too. He is against all stashed assets but we are yet to know the details of his divorce settlement and what he gained out of his marriage with billionaire Sir Goldsmiths’ daughter Jammima Khan who herself is worshipped in UK by youth. UK law allows a percentage of a spouse’s assets at the time of divorce settlement and we do not know the settlement figure to date (if any). If there is any we do not know where it is parked in UK and or declared in Pakistan and if there is none the divorce seems questionable when Khan stays at Richmond at his in laws state as and when he visits UK. During UK election(s) he campaigned vigorously for his brother in law a famous conservative Member of Parliament now. Whilst mentioning and criticising children at foreign land, one can criticise Bilawal and Hasan Nawaz staying at UK if his own children are studying at Atchison one of the top alumni of Pakistan. His handling of public purse is yet to be seen, Mind you, he has yet to gain a public representative slot from where one can gauge his handling but what we know is that he collected funds for his party in UK, and a lot of charity for hospitals. Where business mixes with pleasure will be a matter for public to decide when he comes to play ball at top level.

His conduct is self explanatory as he had the potential to build a team of technocrats or at least some cricketers who respected him, but we see none. We could not see his team in good four years and even now he is a captain waiting for a team to be given. Khan is an autocrat in himself as he could not have a team in UK and only Rabia Zia single handedly managed the party affairs. UK could have produced some possible contestants for his party but he annoyed those who ignited his fire at different cities and despite announcements his party yet to see elections. I think he resorted to selection in the end. In fact, to insult the injury, he is now opposing those to contest election who even hold a foreign bank account and there he discarded 800,000 human souls called ‘overseas Pakistanis’ who have technocracy, businesses, families and experience plus accounts overseas whom he once considered a backbone for the nation. What is the difference of him and Musharraf as both used the overseas community at the time of choosing. He is making branches now and Khan is ruling them out now.

Finally, I think Khan wishes to captain a team of establishment to nail the others as he has none of his own. If he creates political havoc and comes with a ballot, he must be welcomed but if he wishes to ride the horse of establishment who comes on the name of accountability and goes with the dubious guard of honour granting NRO (National reconciliation Ordinance) then beware. Intellectuals must forewarn him and pitch him according to his real potential. He may not be fit for the job of executioner (Tara Masih) as he is seeking one, as we are turning an inexperienced ambitious politician to blow fire from his mouth and whiplash and burn his political foes in order to gain the top slot. Once he would have done the damage to his clan, the goal post will be changed and a new dictator will march in instead of him. Then he will oppose the coming dictator as he differed with Gen. Musharraf and will start his political innings by joining either PML, MQM or even PPP at some percentage of safe seats, but at that time eternal repentance will be his asset and legacy. Imran is blindfolded by these one eye intellectuals whose inherent flaws overpower their own creation, and he must wake up, as he must join a political force to whom he likes and advocate for change through ballot. Is the legendary cricketer a messiah or a punch bag of Pakistan is for the public to verdict. Dictatorship will mess around with him as it did in the past. I wish him well, but a word of wise to him that a Lesson of history is that we do not learn any lesson from it.


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