I have always maintained that Imran Khan is sadly one of the biggest modern exploiters of religion in Pakistan politics until he changes himself and his opportunist political strategy. He is talking about religion in his politics all the time, reciting Ayaats and Ahadees and self-righteously glorifying his image whereas his personal and private life is completely opposite to what he preaches.
He makes everyone believe through his speeches that Allah is on his side, thereby playing emotionally with a deeply religious and socially conservative society, and changing the focus of people from their real life issues like wages, housing, education, health, employment and respect to the debate of whether a politician is a ‘chosen’, ‘blessed’ ‘good’ and ‘virtuous’ man/woman or not. Nawaz Sharif also says the same thing about being blessed by Allah with riches, success, respect, fame and position. So does Asif Zardari. If, according to these people, Allah is on the side of all of them because of their ‘worldly’ positions, respect, fame, success and riches, then on whose side Allah in not? Allah forbid, do they want to tell us that Allah is not on the side of those tens of millions of poor Pakistanis and the struggling middle class who have been helpless and deprived for decades and for their successive generations, because according to their logic, Allah is not on the side of unsuccessful, common and poor people? Politics is not about proclaiming and proving on whose side Allah is but about who has a better economic agenda to improve people’s lives and about the ability to materialise and successfully implement it.
Imran Khan is a ‘religious hypocrite’ like so many other religiously self-righteous Pakistanis from politics, showbiz, sports, media, business and other walks of life who exploit religion to appear ‘virtuous’ and ‘pious’ as well as for appealing to those who talk about religion or quote religious lines. It glorifies their image and makes them more acceptable to public and in turn more successful in their professions. ‘Religious hypocrisy’ is the worst type of hypocrisy and is extremely harmful to the intellectual, cutural, scientific, technological and subsequently the socio-economic growth of a society.
Though I would still not agree with and rather be against his half-cooked, third world, neo liberal economic agenda, but if he at least stops exploiting such a beautiful thing as religion and Allah’s name in his politics and confines himself to the socio-economic and political issues of people regardless their religion, sect, race, clan, gender and ethnicity, no one would be bothered about his private life, as then it would be his personal matter and something only between him and Allah. Middle class in general is confused in Pakistan over the role of religion in politics and falls prey to bigotry, misogyny and male chauvinism of their leaders belonging to and raised in a highly patriarchal society.
He has also cleverly and quite successfully built this narrative in youth that religiously immoral personal life and religiously moral public life are two different things whereas he says that he wants to make Pakistan like his own version of an Islamic state. It is quite ironical because in the Islamic state that he wants to build women will be allowed to sing and dance and wear western clothes whereas in the one which the other religious parties want to build, all these things will be prohibited.
Though I personally believe that it is entirely his personal life and no one should have the right to challenge his morality in his private domain but at the same time when he uses religion in his politics, one is compelled to judge him after that in his personal and private life too. After all, proclaimed religious piety in politics has many shades to it, religious morality in private matters being one of them. Politicians should stick to improving living and working conditions lives of Pakistanis and their families, which include Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and others instead of playing with religious emotions of people and building their tall but fake images upon it.
It is a reality check for all those politicians who lead a double life in Pakistan, mixing and using religion with/in politics and not observing religious values in their private lives. They will always be judged religiously and quite justifiably so but not the ones not doing it. On one hand, they exploit religion and make us believe that they are the chosen saviours of the nation because of their being honest in the eyes of Allah who is rewarding them now with success, and on the other hand, they want to live a completely liberated private life which is against the basic principles and norms of the same religion that they are preaching in their politics. They should realise that they just cannot always have their cake and eat it too in the long run.