Monday, February 25, 2008

Why Doesn't Imran Khan Just Shut Up And Go Away?

Actually, the more pertinent question might be why newspaper editors and journalists continue to seek his opinion on anything. Here he is, spouting off on what he considers the best course of action for the PPP and PML-N.
LAHORE

PAKISTAN Tehirk-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan urged the new parliament not to take oath under the amended constitution while stating the PTI held reservations that both PPP and PML-N might renegade on the judiciary restoration issue under pressure from the US.

The PTI Chief was addressing a press conference at PTI central office here on Sunday after a two-day PTI central executive committee meeting. He was accompanied by PTI central secretary general Dr. Arif Alvi, central information secretary Omer Sarfaraz Cheema, Punjab chapter president Ahsan Rasheed and Amed Owais.

Speaking on the occasion, Imran maintained that if both the majority parties PPP and PML-N announced to take oath on the condition that first deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry should be restored and President Pervez Musharraf should resign, then President Musharraf would step down in 48 hours. He asked the opposition camp to refrain from forming a government until the resignation of President. Imran congratulated both PML-N and PPP leadership on the huge victory in 2008 polls while expressing concern that US was influencing the joint declaration by PPP and PML-N to restore judiciary. He termed the statement by US Foreign Secretary an interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan and called upon PPP and PML-N to shun American dictation. “Both PPP and PML-N should stand their ground on the issue of judiciary since it is an issue of national concern,” Imran said. He said PTI had took a principled stand on the judiciary issue from its inception and the reinstatement of deposed judges was the top priority of his party. He linked the restoration of judiciary to strengthening of democratic values in the country while saying PTI would work to convince democratic forces for restoration of judges. The PTI will be an effective opposition even sitting outside the parliament, he said.

Hilarious, isn't it? Who, one may wonder, does Imran Khan think he is? Why does he think he is qualified to give advice to the two biggest parties in Pakistan? Why does he think he matters?

Time sometimes sneaks up on people - it certainly does on me, particularly when I watch Barcelona and realize that their youngest players (Bojan, for instance) were born in an altogether difference decade than I was. So it may surprise people to know that it has been twelve years since Imran Khan founded his party, Tehrik-i-Insaf, or Movement for Justice (presumably, he got tired of the West and its "fat women in miniskirts", not to mention its "addiction to sex and obscenity" and decided Pakistan politics would be more fun).

Since the founding of PTI, there have been three National Assembly elections. In the first, him and his party got floored. Understandable, perhaps, since he was stepping into uncharted (and murky) territory of contesting an election one year after the formation of his party, though it bears explaining how little 5 million pounds can buy in terms of electoral power on the streets of Pakistan. Nevertheless, we can write off this campaign to his inexperience and, um, inexperience I guess.

In the second, a full six years after his debut in politics, PTI won a whopping 0.62% of the popular vote and managed to procure a grand total of one seat - one! - out of 272. In terms of the popular vote, the PTI narrowly beat out such political luminaries as PML-Z (the Z stands for our good friend Zia), the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (aka PKMAP), the BNP (not that BNP), the Jamhoori Watan Party, and the PPP-S. The PTI narrowly followed on the heels of those erstwhile political heavyweights, the PML-F (F for functional, I kid you not) and the PML-Junejo. This is the company the PTI kept in terms of political power after the 2002 elections. It's all there on the Wikipedia page - go check it out when you're done reading this.

It should be noted that six years is an awfully long time in Pakistan politics. Consider that the ZAB founded the PPP in 1967. By 1973 he had won one and a half elections (we know how the half turned out, don't we?). You may object and say ZAB was a once-in-a-generation politician, and that comparing him to Imran Khan is a nonsensical comparison.

[We interrupt this blog post to narrate a ZAB story I got from Owen Bennett-Jones' book. When ZAB was foreign minister, he met President Kennedy for talks. The latter was highly impressed. "If you were American," JFK told ZAB, "you would be in my cabinet." ZAB shot back: "Be careful, Mr. President. If I were American, you would be in my cabinet." Classic.]

Ok, so ZAB is a bad comparison. What about roly-poly, low-IQ Nawaz Sharif? Dude was thrust upon Pakistan by the ISI in the 1988 elections. Six years later, he could more than hold his own, and was a political heavyweight (no pun intended) in his own right.

So suffice it to say, six years is a long time. If you're winning less than one percent of the popular vote, and are getting one seat out of 272 a full six years after your party was founded despite instant name recognition, a clean slate in terms of reputation, and foreign money behind you, it's safe to say that you're kind of a loser.

As for the third election, only those completely unaware of Pakistani politics will be unaware that the douchebag sat out the election, protesting Musharraf's actions against the judiciary.

So to recap: twelve years, three elections, two pitiful ass-kickings, one very convenient boycott.

Now, I return to my question at the beginning of the post: why does Imran Khan matter? Why are his pronouncements treated so referentially? Why do journalists seek his opinion on political issues of the day? Shouldn't the threshold for political relevance be slightly higher than one seat and 160,000 votes? (Seriously, if I tried, I could get at least one tenth of that. Give me one-tenth his money, and I promise to deliver 16,000 votes. Hell, Five Rupees' readers, their friends, and their families at least guarantee me 1000, right?).

Why is his name even in the papers? Again, I return to the company he keeps. Do you ever read about PKMAP or the PML-Z and their stances on the judiciary issue? If not, why is Imran Khan afforded such respect? Can someone please explain this to me?

33 comments:

shariq said...

i've also been anti-imran for a long time.

the reason he gets plaudits in the western media is pretty simple. oxford educated, great cricketer, married to jemima, people are more likely to connect to something about pakistan if he's quoted in it.

also, at least in the uk he's quite big amongst the pakistani population here (at the anti-musharraf rally, the PTI had the biggest contingent)

as for the pakistani media, don't some of the same principles apply. editors and journalists of english language dailies are from the same socio-demographic groups as people who think that imran khan is some kind of noble warrior.

i was mulling whether imran could serve some sort of 'national conscience' role. but to do that he would have to abandon his political ambitions.

otherwise he's simply the pakistani ralph nader.

Farooq said...

Im with you in your criticism of Imran, but arent you a bit unreasonably harsh when comparing him to Nawaz and Bhutto (though you retracted Bhutto)?

According to you, Imran Khan in his first 5-10 years or so could hardly manage a seat. Yet, Nawaz and Bhutto were apparently kicking ass within a couple of years of starting.
Isnt that because BOTH Nawaz and Bhutto pretty much were handed their support in a silver platter? Imran seems to be appealing to a fresh cross-section of the population. With Bhutto, there were the feudals supporting him as well as the Sindhi connection so he had a natural support base which was attracted to him. Ditto for Nawaz, with rural Punjabis as well as a bunch of industralists.

Your criticism of Imran is justified. He annoys me as well. But Nawaz and Bhutto were pretty much born into politics. Well, maybe not politics. But it was always clear exactly which cross-section of Pakistan they would appeal to. It was just a matter of moblising them. You know. Like Altaf Hussein. He KNOWS the middle class mohajir will support him because he taps directly into them. Imran has no such appeal.

But anyway, you didnt need to bring up Nawaz and ZAB to show how ineffectual Imran is. By now he really should have beefed up his support base.

Anonymous said...

Why can't Imran Khan speak and share his views? You certainly think we are interested in yours.

My God, this writer wants to censory and shut people up. Sounds like a very very dangerous way to think.

Yeti said...

While Imran can of course be faulted with many things, having an opinion as to the desired course of action for the PPP and the PML is not one of them.

Anonymous has a fair point.

Farooq said...

Wouldnt it be sad if Yeti and Anonymous are the same person?

Ahsan said...

farooq:

that's a fair point, though i would just say that when he entered politics, there was massive disaffection with mainstream politics (this is, after all, one of the main reasons musharraf was able to come in on his high horse and instantly garner so much support). so yes, he didnt have one particular all-weather constituency or base, but his potential was enormous, if only because everyone at the time hated BB and NS and the MQM.

anon1235:

the difference between my views and imran's is that no journalist is asking me for my opinion on anything. seeing as how his party has won precisely one more seat than me in the last twelve years, that beggars belief. i want him to shut up because i think he's an irrelevant fool, and pakistani journalists don't seem to realize this.

yeti:

he can have his opinion, of course. but why is considered important? why are his press conferences attended by anyone other than his family? it's surely not for his electoral power. so what is it? if a politician is not judged by his/her electoral power/street power, what do we have left? are we listening to him because he's a former cricketer and a celebrity? if tomorrow waqar younis decided to get a microphone and waq eloquent on the virtues of decentralization, would anyone listen to him? why is it different for imran?

Riaz Haq said...

Have you heard about Ralph Nader? He's described as the "spoiler" by the Democrats in the United States. There's been a documentary called "An Unreasonable Man" made about Mr. Nader. The title "Unreasonable Man" is an allusion to George Bernard Shaw who said as follows: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man."
Imran Khan is Pakistan's Ralph Nader. He has as much right as any one else to speak his mind in a democracy.

Yeti said...

Ahsan:

You requested an explanation and this is my attempt. He is considered important simply because there are many people who agree with what he is saying. Those people are not concentrated in any one district , and in fact are spread thinly over the urban areas in Karachi and Lahore, and a little more thickly over Frontier and overseas. That is why street power is not always a good indicator.

Imran Khan does not have a concentrated constituency but he voices certain opinions in a credible and articulate manner (which Waqar probably could not) and many people share those opinions...

His relevance comes from there, and grows little by little as he continues to shape the political discourse on some issues like the judiciary and Altaf Hussain (for better or worse).

Summary: The comparison with Ralph Nader is not a bad one, someone not very relevant (but not entirley irrelevant) who draws strength and credibility by remaining outside the establishment and can help push certain issues into the public domain.

Farooq:

I have been foiled. I am anonymous. Riaz Haq is also another of my manifestations.

Faraz Hasan said...

Thank god for Yeti writing this rebuttal because I bet Ahsan was preparing another malicious e-mail for me

Ahsan said...

yeti:

thanks for your comment. you raise a number of fair points. my only retort(s) would be:

1. there are plenty of people saying what he is saying. he's not shaping or even guiding discourse in any meaningful way. this is true both of his stance on the judiciary and his tiff with the MQM. though i have to admit that i thoroughly enjoyed his geo interview right after the MQM thing happened. that was hilarious (in a good way).

2. he's not ralph nader from anywhere. ralph nader is disrespected by almost everyone, and no one pays any attention to him except during election season when he decides his life is too boring and he needs something to do. imran is the complete opposite - he is completely irrelevant during elections (as we have seen) but for some reason relevant at all other times.

3. i think your argument elides the fact that celebrity and status has a lot to do with it. again, it's not like he's saying anything original. if the media want to put him on the front page everyday, that's their prerogative. but, if that's the standard they're using, then i want to see what ALL the leaders of ALL the parties that have garnered at least 0.62% of the popular vote are saying about the judiciary and musharraf. anything less is a distortion of the discursive space in pakistani politics.

SAP Arbeiter said...

Say whatevery you will about Imran, the fact is that he was the first one to raise a voice about Judiciary. No one else talked about it. Credit goes to him for bringing it up over and over. Imran was right about the independence of the judiciary from the start. Aside from that, there have been occasions when I disagreed with Imran's opinions, however, they are outnumbered by occasions when I agreed with him.
But this gives me pause when I am thinking about any of these politicians. If Imran was ready to adapt his opinions to what was popular, I would always find people agreeing with him all of the time. That is not the case. So, it appears to me that part of the reason could be that he speaks his mind. The other part could be that people are reasonable and he is a raving lunatic who occasionally makes sense. I would go with the former as the more relevant reason here.

Bhutto and Sharif are examples that I feel do not apply in this case. Both these guys were parts of the establishment when they started out. Bhutto did not just turn against Ayub over night. He was planning for a political career long before 1967. Nawaz Sharif inherited the machine that was created by Zia and picked up the Anti PPP mantra which cleary helped him get situated in Pakistan Politics.

In the end, Imran may never be successful in Politics but he brings about topics and discussion in the public forum that none of these guys (PPP, all incarnations of PML and others) wanted to tackle. Nawaz is using the Judiciary issue as a political chip right now. He will cash it in when time comes which could be in a power sharing deal in the next few days (I hope I am wrong about that). After that Imran will be the only one standing ready to not compromise. I like the fact that he is a fighter. Even if he looses today, I believe he will help change the coarse of politics in Pakistan.

At the end, my dear, us talking about Imran leads me to believe that he is relevant to Pakistani politics.

Aside from that discussion, what would be important are two questions:

1. Will these guys enter the Assembly with Mush in his seat or will they not?

If they do, then Ch. Iftikhar will not be coming back anytime soon and Imran and AA will be on the streets again starting March 9th.

If they don't, I suspect, they will try to create some kind of a compromise that allows Ch. Iftikhar to get another position, perhaps even the President and bring back some of the junior judges who were let go.

Just my two cents.

Gay said...

I am Nikhil.

Nelly said...

It wasn't me

henmen said...

I figure you do not agree with the man and his approach to politics. fair enough. However, the very title of your post and the following text only made me aware of how subjective your opinion. You for one my friend are not a believer in freedom of expression. Secondly, whether Imran Khan thinks himself important enough or not you sure find him important eough to write about him.

Anonymous said...

As a follower of this blog since its inception, I have noticed a stark increase in the number of regular readers. The writing style that henmen mentions in the previous post is very clearly Ahsan's and is representative (for good or bad) of his personality. He is brazenly outspoken and is generally does not taper his views.

NOW, however with the increase in readership, I wonder if he will go diplomatic and attempt to appease the masses at the cost of expressing himself how he is most comfortable?

We'll bring you the latest as it breaks.

Anonymous said...

WILL HE OR WILL HE NOT TONE DOWN HIS WRITING STYLE?

LOYAL READERS OF FIVE RUPEES I WAIT FOR YOUR VIEWS

AKS said...

As a contributor on this Blog I must reiterate that I am not asking Imran to be censored. I'm just asking him to be thrown in a pit full of venomous snakes with the roof slowly closing. If he gets out, ala Indiana Jones, then he can spew his rubbish, otherwise, tough luck.

Imran has a right to his views and Ahsan isn't denying him that. What Ahsan is saying, and what I agree with, is that Imran is given an unusual amount of airime by jounalists. A glance at what he has achieved (not much) and what he states (incoherent political ramblings) make this airtime unjustified.

However, the preceding comments seem to have partly answered Ahsan's question. It seems newspapers carry Imran's views because there readership demands it. I wonder if it's a vicious cycle where the newspaper's publish his crap because some people want it and more people read it and then demand even more and the papers publish his opinion even more, and so on.

Many of the commentators above perceive Imran to be the saviour of democratic principles but for me he is just a politician. Just not a very good one.

There are a few things I really want to get off my chest.

1. Imran is not a principled man. Imran, like any politician seeking power, choses his policies as per his audience. He may partly support the Taliban in Mansehra but he'll denounce them in Lahore. Imran really isn't the 'idealist, charismatic and prinicipled politician' he is touted to be. Compares Imran with someone like Omar Asghar Khan (late) and you realise how miserably the great Khan fails his aforementioned label.

2. Imran is not a commoner trying to speak out against the system, as a few commentators have stated. He was born into a priviliged life and enhanced his status manifold through his charm and social skills. It's all about who you know and Imran got to know the right people. But you don't just run into the heiress of the Goldsmith forune on the street; you have to be someone to have the kind of friends he has. And lest we forget he hasn't fought from a penniless footing either. If you want a a politician who has risen from the bottom and succeeded on the basis of his politics and not his money then take a look at Sheikh Rashid.

3. He is a racist. Imran Khan gave a speech at LUMS a few months ago and called the MQM murderers. That's fair I guess. But then he made fun of how black one of the MQM leaders was and how he should go back to Africa! You can find a video of the incident online. And this is not a recent occurence. Many years ago, a well known Karachite, Memon and Shia, became one of the earliest leaders of the PTI. He left a short while later and denounced Imran, privately of course, as a bigot.

4. Imran is not a political expert. He has not highlighted any quality that has made me sit up and listen. So why is he on the TV again? You want a political expert, again, go listen to Sheikh Rashid. (My Hero!)

5. Imran is no Ralph Nader. No one's asking Ralph what McCain, Hillary and Obama should do before going into the convention. Nor will anyone be speaking to Nader as to what policies the next U.S. president should follow.

Nader gave us the seat belt, Imran brought home the World Cup. So how about we listen to them on car safety and cricket, respectively, and leave the politics to the professionals.

AKS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faraz said...

Ahsan,

"Comment deleted
This post has been removed by the author."

That was NOT me. I don't even know what Farooq wrote in there but It was NOT me. I'm pre-empting the scathing email you have undoubtedly already sent me. I'm just going to delete it without looking at it because I did not write that comment that you had to delete.

Best,

Faraz

AKS said...

@ Faraz

I posted my comment twice so had to delete one of them. No censorship here, unless Imran Khan writes!

@ Sap Arbeiter

I have to disagree with your statement that Imran was the first one to raise the CJ issue. As soon Mush embarked on his hare brained plan to oust the CJ (and listen to Wasi Zaffar) there was general uproar. It’s not too hard to lend support to an issue on which both Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Asma Jehangir both agree!

Krugman of the NYT broke the Mukhtaran Mai story. Imran did not break the CJ story.

You further state: “Nawaz is using the Judiciary issue as a political chip right now”.- yeah and so is Imran, so is Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Aitzaz Ahsan. As a matter of fact so is my law firm in some ways.

My law firm has lent support to the CJ and as a result many of our lawyers boycotted the Courts for months. The firm lost a great deal of revenue and shed much of its reserve. We took a stand because we support the judiciary of course but that wasn't teh only factor. Equally significant reasons for our action was peer pressure and a need to safeguard future earnings! The legal community, especially the Higher Court community, is small and incestuous. We do not want to be blackballed by these guys as many of them will become Judges in the future. In case the old Judges got reinstated we didn’t want to be the guys who didn’t support their plight. (Surprise, there is no such thing as a impartial and unbiased judiciary!) The actions of my law firm were dependent as much on the principles of its lawyers as they were on their ability to function, and profit, in the long term. I'm guessing it was the same with the great Khan.

Oh and had Imran Khan been the only one standing up for the Judiciary, the poor Judges would be six feet under by now.

Faraz said...

AKS said...
@ Faraz

"...No censorship here..."

I beg to differ. Ahsan the despot has deleted many of my comments in the past

Farooq said...

Aks:

Good analysis. I agree with everything you said, particularly the parts about Imran being a racist as well as being wrongfully credited for being the first to champion the judiciary's cause.

I wasnt aware of the instances you mentioned (which disgusted me), but my own belief in Imran's racist inclinations stems from his tenure in the cricket team, where he blatantly held back players of a non pakhtun/punjabi descent. Over the last few years, this allegation has been relegated to conspirary theory status, but its still something I strongly believe in and continues to piss me off.

Imran was NOT the first guy to champion the legal community's cause. Such an assumption is highly offensive to the hundreds of lawyers who had been protesting from day one. Maybe he was one of the first few big names to be attached to the cause. But there was nothing noble about joining the lawyer's movement bandwagon. He needed a platform and a fresh mission statement since his usual crap was getting him nowhere.

It actually really bothers me when people see Imran Khan as this messianic, untainted Nelson Mandela-like figure. I will agree he is not as shady as a Zardari or Humayun Akhtar. But the guy is as two faced as any other politician. Plus he is quite politically naieve. And it really bothers me when people tell me they refused to vote because they were too lazy and didnt like their options, but would have voted for Imran if he was on the ticket.

Some people on this comments section have mentioned that "Imran Khan must be relevant if we are discussing him on the blog right now."
Im sorry but that logic is a little short-sighted (and im being polite by using that word). The contributors to this blog have frequently posted some random news stories or quotes concerning issues or personalities that just happened to catch their interest for that split second. That doesnt mean that the content is of earth-shattering importance to them. Do you really need to resort to such far-fetched logic to justify Imran's relevance?
If i get my room cleaned but there remains some cobweb dangling in some unreacheable corner of the ceiling, that piece of filth is not really an issue for me. Now from time to time it may annoy me that its there and I may now and then mention to my mom or fiancee that its bothering me, but Im really too lazy to do anything about it myself. Its not something id write about in my memoirs. Its just something I notice and annoys me when it enters my field of vision.
Imran Khan IS that cobweb.

SAP Arbeiter said...

I never said he was the first to support CJ. I said he was the first one to talk about independent judiciary in 1996 since he based his party on that. If you recall when people started talking about him getting into politics newspapers were wondering what his cause celeb would be and it turned out to be a surprise. Everyone thougth this was not going to work. Who cares about independent judiciary etc. But in fact, it turned into a bigger deal than earlier thought.

On the other hand, I have personally talked to the man and sought clarification on the holding back of Non Panjabi or Non Pakhtoon players. I am a Karachiite myself and this perception bugged me as well. He told me about the issue of Mansoor Akhter whom he selected over his own cousin Majid Khan which unfortunately resulted in him damaging his relationship with someone he considered his hero. He also spoke with me about the plight of Karachi and the problems with MQM and I agreed with most of what he said.

You can accuse him of being an incompetent politician at best but no more. He is NOT a racist. That is a prejoritive term which has no backing in facts. If there is a comment out there where he advised someone to go back to Africa because of his color, I would like to know where that link is located.

Thanks for a good discussion.

Faraz said...

"If there is a comment out there where he advised someone to go back to Africa because of his color, I would like to know where that link is located."

I'd like to send you the youtube link but unfortunately the dictator has blocked youtube in Pakistan

NB said...

The video of Imrans comments wrt Babur Ghauri can be seen here. Its politically incorrect and dumb, but It certainly doesnt establish the man as a rascist.

http://akeelrehman.blogspot.com/2007/11/imran-khan-lums-03-nov-2007.html

The man is a tool, but he is seen to be untainted by corruption (or office), and yeah he does speak his mind. As a politician his lack of diplomacy and relative eloquence do set him apart. People appreciate him for that. I dont think hes opportunistic at all.

That said he gets airtime more coz hes a scrappy pundit, and not becuase hes a politician of merit, so I dont see how the comparisons with ZAB, NS, or the PMLZ/PMLF are apt in any way.

Good discussion all round though, great to see such particpation.

MK said...

Imran has every right to voice his concern.
He is the voice of the people and therefore acts as a watchman on the doings of these corrupt politicians form PML and PPP. He is the voice of reason and he should be supported in this.
Useless rhetoric that you have written on this post does not mean anything as long as Imran remains a voice of reason and justice.

Imran Khan said...

You all also seem to have forgotten that I invented reverse swing, which should give me automatic credibility on ANY topic in cricket loving nations.

Also, as soon as ANY ONE of you sleeps with a woman as fine as Jemima Goldsmith, I will exit the political field; no questions asked. Not only must you sleep with her, but you must make her follow you to a country where her life is infinitely more uncomfortable, yet making her remain in love with you. Then, once you're bored of her, you must ship her back to whence she came and cut all ties with her for the lamest of reasons.

Only then will you truly understand the kind of man I am.

Risha said...

Imran gives apolitical drawing room types someone to rally around --people unwilling to see politics as the art of the possible and generally predisposed to thinking in terms of how to set things right from the top.

Many of the blogosphere supporters of Imran are disenchanted Musharraf supporters and perennial Bhutto and Sharif haters.

Imran is to this decade what Asghar Khan was for the 1990s. The anti-politician politician, useful for the military just before a coup to make the point that all politicians suck and good for the commentariat in between.

Other than that you are right. He needs to drop out of politics and we need to refocus ourselves on those who have the votes and the energy to fight real political battles.

Risha said...

I meant 1970s and 1980s in relation to Asghar Khan above....

Ahsan said...

imran:

i'm not surprised that you would be self-aggrandizing enough to claim that you invented reverse swing. as you well know, it was your erstwhile colleague and best friend, sarfraz nawaz who actually invented it.

and you, sir, did not ship jemima back when you were bored with her. she got bored with you and started hopping around with hugh grant on european beaches in a bathing suit.

just clearing things up.

lala said...

the sole reason why he is not up their with the big people in politics in my view is that he is the only one who doesnt attract any particular peopl or cast or province like ALTAF or the BHUTTO'S or NAWAZ E.T.C.
but then think abt it if given a choice wud u vote for ALTAF or ZARDARi if you care for pakistan.i dont c a single reaosn these guys shudn't even get to run a bank let alone a country

Meka said...

I’ll be honest. I’ve not been following all of Imran’s political rants. What I like is his understanding of the issues and the way he’s able to articulate his views in the media. I agree with much of his political ideology. He’s not as idealistic as he might have been earlier in his career but it remains that his star quality and celebrity status does appeal to those who want to give *that* kind of attention although the average Pakistani might still consider Imran too “white” (by which I mean Westernized) to be taken seriously. That’s wavering on hypocrital in my book considering the average Pakistani (for all intents and purposes) are working double time to give their prodigal children the kind of education and upbringing (social connections and all that it entails) that Imran’s had all his life. Having a child out of wedlock hasn’t exactly endeared him to the rising Evangelicals in our country. But have y’ll forgotten his cancer hospital? That’s worthy in my book and beats Mr. 10% and the Pillsbury Dough Boy (Nawaz) any day.

Ahsan said...

Meka:

My point was not to dispute that Imran Khan has accomplished worthy goals in his lifetime (the hospital, the World Cup). My point was that he is a politician, and thus should be treated as a politician by the media.

How are politicians treated by the media? Well, the really important ones make it to the front page. The Presidents, members of cabinet, the Prime Ministers, and so on. Imran Khan has never actually *won* any power, so he doesn't belong on the first page.

Other types of politicians are on the front page because they command a lot of street power, if not electoral power (Qazi Hussain and the JI is an excellent example). Unfortunately, Imran Khan has no street power either.

So without electoral power, and without street power, Imran is basically a massive failure as a politician, despite having (a) oodles of money behind him, (b) a clean reputation, and (c) instant name recognition.

Why, then, are his opinions on politics worthy of anything? Why is he on the front page and on various news shows when you never hear ABOUT, let alone hear FROM, those who rival Imran in terms of power (PML-Z, Jamhoori Watan Party, etc)? Simply because he is articulate? Or because he built a cancer hospital? Abdul Sattar Edhi is an even greater philanthropist than Imran, and yet we never hear from him on the judges issue or the War on Terror, do we?

I just think a political leader should be afforded space in the media commensurate with his/her (a) political accomplishments, (b) electoral power, and/or (c) street power. Imran has none of those, and yet the whole of the country pays attention to him. I find it baffling, and more than slightly annoying.