I want to believe, Mr Khan. I honestly do. But seeing you speak in person this evening has left me immensely disappointed. You see, it takes more than utopian dreams of a ‘better tomorrow’ and incessant calls for ‘tabdeeli’ (change), to convince me. Thank you for your 50 minute motivational speech, but I would have much preferred hearing what your ‘grand strategies’ actually entail.
In the entire span of time you spent manning the dais and swinging your clenched fists in the air, not once did you give any detail of how your visionary ‘Naya Pakistan’ (New Pakistan) would function. It’s very easy to throw around catchy buzzwords like ‘increased revenue’, and ‘taxes’ to get the mindless masses clapping like circus monkeys at your every full stop. But why not elucidate a little and explain just HOW you hope to achieve this ‘Naya Pakistan’ ? You were, after all, speaking to a large group of university students. We are not as dim as you might take us to be; we would have indeed understood. And don’t worry, your major opponents would not have ‘stolen’ your ideas; the Nawaz League is neither intelligent nor willing enough to ‘heavily tax the rich’ by any means.
We (as the Awaam) would also be grateful if you could please refrain from being so heavily reliant on the term ‘main’ (I/me)? It reduces your entire argument to just you and your personality, giving the impression of a cultish attitude. Undeniably, nations require strong, capable leadership, but real populism stems from the group efforts of MANY people not just a single person. Perhaps once in a while, it would be advisable to include the term ‘hum’ (we), to highlight the commendable teamwork of the PTI (the party you represent). For, when a ‘leader’ uses the term ‘I/me’ almost 13 times in one sentence, the pompousness of their rhetoric can become painful to hear.
Perhaps you could also do with keeping up-to-date on current affairs. Not once did you mention the plight of the Palestinian people in the entirety of your speech. I understand that you are a Pakistani politician, but you are also an international political actor. The least you could have done was pay your respects, or condemned the acts of barbarism employed by Israel in its massacring of innocent civilians in Gaza. There were many points at which to slip this in. We did discuss drones and their impact quite a bit- surely Israeli airstrikes served a useful comparison?
Your audience comprised predominantly of first and second generation British Pakistanis, whom you called upon to ‘be the change’. How do you suggest we do this? From my understanding of your talk, it seems that the only purpose we serve is fueling your party with foreign currency. For many of the students you addressed this evening, life is far from lavish. They cannot afford the luxuries that have been so readily available to you. The reality is, many of them come from humble abodes; their parents work hard day and night paying heavy taxes on their hard-earned incomes. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the clans and cronies that have recently hopped onto the PTI bandwagon.
I would never have liked to question a leader’s personal life but since you said yourself that a ‘leader must be the example for his nation to follow,’ do you regularly tell your own half-English sons to favor the use of Urdu over English, as you so forthrightly asserted to your audience this evening? Do you sit them down, as you did us, and tell them that in doing so we are putting an end to old ‘Colonial’ ways? I am sorry Mr Khan, I will not digress from the main issue; I take no pleasure in discussing your personal life. But what separates you from the likes of Maududi, who once claimed that ‘Jihaad is a poison to sell outside my home’?
But what’s the use in talking sense? A leader only emerges from amongst his/her people. I guess this is what our ignorant masses rightfully deserve. After all, most of the audience seemed all too happy chanting and raving, resembling hooligans at a cricket match than concerned and ambitious university students that they ought to be.
I am a huge admirer of your charity work, Mr Khan. I highly commend you and take nothing away from your efforts. But this is an entire nation you speak of. Whilst I appreciate your efforts to ‘dream big’ we must remain realistic.
All that said, we look forward to your promised ‘90 day revolution’, which would hail a ‘Naya Pakistan’, inshAllah.
[The above is a piece I wrote right after hearing Imran Khan speak in person for the first time, yesterday (19/11/12), at King's College, London].