Excerpts from a NY Times article on Imran Khan, published in the year 2012. Here is the link to the article: Imran Khan Must Be Doing Something Right.
Khan’s campaign strategy is simple: he has promised to uproot corruption within 90 days, end the country’s involvement in America’s war on terror and institute an Islamic welfare state. His quest for a moral Pakistani state and a righteous politics is clearly informed by his own private journey. Famous in the 1980s as a glamorous cricketer, he is at pains to affirm his Islamic identity in his new autobiography, “Pakistan: A Personal History.” A rising politician’s careful self-presentation, the book fails to mention his friendship with Mick Jagger, his frequenting of London’s nightclubs in the 1980s and other instances of presumably un-Islamic deportment, like the series of attractive women with whom he was linked by racy British tabloids. It does devote one chapter to Jemima Goldsmith..
References to Allah’s grace cropped up early on in Khan’s public utterances, but they multiplied as he struggled to break into Pakistani politics. He now casts himself as the archetypal confused sinner who has discovered the restorative certainties of religion and is outraged over the decadence of his own class. “In today’s Lahore and Karachi,” he writes, “rich women go to glitzy parties in Western clothes chauffeured by men with entirely different customs and values.” His avowals of Islam, his identification with the suffering masses and his attacks on his affluent, English-speaking peers have long been mocked in the living rooms of Lahore and Karachi as the hypocritical ravings of “Im the Dim” and “Taliban Khan” — the two favored monikers for him. (His villa is commonly cited as evidence of his own unalloyed elitism.) Nevertheless, Khan’s autobiography creates a cogent picture out of his — and Pakistan’s — clashing identities. There is the proud young man of Pashtun blood born into Pakistan’s Anglicized feudal and bureaucratic elite — an elite that disdained their poor, Urdu-speaking compatriots. There is the student and cricketer in 1970s Britain, when racism was endemic and even Pakistanis considered themselves inferior to their former white masters. Then we meet the brilliant cricket captain who inspired a world-beating team; the D.I.Y. philanthropist who pursued his dream of building a world-class cancer hospital in Pakistan; the jaded middle-aged sybarite who found a wise Sufi mentor; the political neophyte who awakened to social and economic injustice; and finally the experienced politician, who after 15 years of having his faith tested by electoral failure is now convinced of his destiny as Pakistan’s savior.
For many in this new generation of Pakistanis — more than 60 percent of the population is below age 25 — there is little choice between the untried and evidently incorruptible Khan and such repeatedly discredited leaders as Zardari and Sharif. His long and uncompromising opposition to American presence in the region not only pleases assorted Islamic radicals; it also echoes a deep Pakistani anger about the C.I.A.’s drone attacks, whose frequency has increased under the Obama administration. Expatriate and local businessmen, tormented by the stagnating economy (while neighboring India has boomed), line up to donate money for his massive rallies (though Khan himself does not believe, he told me, in “neoliberal capitalism”). Many rich Pakistanis, like Walid Iqbal, the Harvard-educated, Porsche-driving grandson of Pakistan’s spiritual founder, whose embrace of the P.T.I. in November had, he told me, made “national news,” see Khan as someone they themselves would like to be: devoutly Muslim, proudly nationalist, sophisticated, successful. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s private media, which include several raucously partisan news channels, help obscure Khan’s obvious handicaps — the P.T.I.’s lack of a political base in large provinces like Sindh, a P.P.P. stronghold — with extensive coverage of his made-for-television rallies. And it is not inconceivable that the army and the I.S.I. — or elements within — have spotted a likely winner and potential partner.
Khan, who claims that Obama is “worse than Bush,” has been known to pray in public during his rallies, and one of his party’s many vice presidents had in recent days shared a platform with Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organization implicated in the attacks on Mumbai in 2008. While Pakistan’s death toll during its participation in the war on terror — 40,000 — was deplored, the harshest words were directed at Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif. Their corruption scandals were brought up and then, unfairly, the brothers’ recourse to hair transplants, which had plainly improved the looks of many of the politicians hovering around Khan.
I am going to stop reading for a minute and take this time to laugh. 😀
Khan’s disparate constituencies can make for some strange bedfellows. Senior members of his party have shared a platform with Difa-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Defense Council), a coalition of extremist groups that includes anti-Shiite militants as well as promoters of jihad against India and America.
There was another small explosion of anger when I asked him about his stance on women’s rights. Khan refused in 2006 to support reforms to the so-called Hudood Ordinance, which exposes rape victims to charges of adultery unless they can produce four males who witnessed their violation. Khan claims he voted against the reform bill as a protest against Musharraf and would repeal the Hudood law altogether if elected. Many liberal-minded Pakistanis still worried about his positions, I told Khan.
And this is precisely why Khan attracts misogynists like Junaid Jamshaid. It is also one of the main reasons why Khan will get absolutely no respect from me, ever!
“Morons!” he exclaimed. “First you have to guarantee basic social and economic rights before you get to gender rights! What is the point of these NGO workers showing up in conservative tribal areas wearing bluejeans?!”
Seriously?!? If you find that this argument makes sense then kill yourself, right now!
Mehmal Sarfraz, a journalist I met in Lahore, said that Khan’s young online supporters had “fascist” tendencies. Many of them viciously trolled her whenever she criticized Khan on her blog and on Twitter. (This is a common experience for Khan’s critics. Two weeks after I spoke to Bucha, Khan appeared on her talk show, apologizing for how some P.T.I. supporters had harassed her online.) They were particularly angry, Sarfraz said, laughing, that Khan’s critic was a hijab-wearing woman. She derided Khan’s view of extremism in Pakistan as the offshoot of the American war on terror. “These jihadists supported by the I.S.I. were in Kashmir well before 9/11. And why does Imran blame Zardari for the drone attacks when everyone knows that the president has no power and the military gave the Americans permission to use the drones? It is because the military and intelligence agencies are backing Imran.”