For much of his career, Mr Harris Khalique, who wrote a piece in The News on March 9, titled “Not cricket,” has hoped for change. Yet, for all his foreign education, literary and poetical background, his political aims and ambitions remain unknown, limited only to a certain class of pseudo-intellectuals, cynics and participants of dinnertime political discussions.
In March 2009, in an op-ed piece for Friday Times, he wrote: “One should not get complacent with the PPP nor harbour hopes with the PML-N. We who believe in the dream mentioned above must continue to work for an alternative, popular political force.” Have his efforts or hopes brought about an “alternative, popular” political force in the last three years? Have his extensive writings managed to capture the imagination of the common man?
The common man in Pakistan is no longer complacent but weary, exhausted, fatigued and overburdened by the PPP and the PML-N, and all other “democratic” forces. Yet, possessing wealth and power, they still continue to win by-elections and now control the Senate. The fact is that in Pakistan there is only one alternative to the two major political parties: Imran Khan and the PTI.
How can you find fault with Imran Khan, whose political struggle encompasses 16 years of singular purpose, whose consistent warnings finally reached the hearts and minds of a grieving nation? Or find him unfit if he desires to bring change from within the system, bringing together politicians – some old, some new – from different political platforms, and on his own terms?
Mr Khalique, you would know well that Pakistan is a country with deep class and social divisions. There are issues of cast, creed, kinship, an old archaic order, a history of dictators and elitist rulers who ruled and continue to rule with tyranny and despotism. They maintain a stranglehold over the existing political, economic and social system of Pakistan that they have helped create and nurture and now control.
Despite all these odds, Imran Khan has managed to appeal to the conscience of millions who believe that from within the system his leadership can unite those willing to join him on his terms, and create a social system based on equity and justice. He is an alternative to the Zardaris, the Sharifs, the Chaudhrys and the dictators.
Had Imran Khan thirsted for power, by now he would have joined many cabinets, held many important positions, made numerous compromises, and would today not just be remembered as a former cricket captain of Pakistan but also as a former prime minister. That is why Imran Khan today is not considered as just any politician but as a true leader.
Imran Khan is neither a Taliban-sympathiser, as you imply, nor does he sympathise with the West. These are two strong, biased and misinformed allegations on your part, which are without a shred of credible evidence. Imran Khan has consistency maintained a position based on negotiations for a peaceful resolution through dialogue. For over ten years he has consistently advocated this policy. He understands that history may well repeat itself to the horror of Pakistan, and the repercussions of a dismembered Afghanistan under the control of warring tribes and brutal chieftains, as was the case after the collapse of the Soviet Union, may prove fatal for Pakistan, both for its internal security and its regional position.
Indeed, talks with the Taliban are the way forward. This is what Imran has advocated, not as a Taliban-sympathiser but as a sympathiser of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Pakistanis dying from drone strikes, suicide bombings, and other acts of terrorism. He says this to put an end to the indoctrination of innocent minds, to rid this country of these breeding grounds of hate and vengeance where we fight a senseless war on the machinations of others.
Imran Khan has translated dreams into reality time and again: the dream of winning the World Cup, the dream of a cancer hospital, the dream of a university, and now the dream for a new Pakistan. This requires a superhuman effort to combat vicious forces, all aligned against one man and his vision. This means going into battle with the deeply entrenched corrupt, unjust, dishonest and fraudulent men and women whose greed for personal gains knows no bounds.