The ‘charismatic doer’

October 19, 2014

Not inclined to look at the complexity of politics in Pakistan, and now supporting the PTI, the young generation seems to have found a cause

The ‘charismatic doer’

It is interesting to look at the youth supporting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and Imran Khan. Why do they so passionately believe in what the party’s leader says or promises? Is it the charisma of the winner of the cricket world cup for Pakistan? Is it the accomplishment in building the cancer hospital? Or, is it the vision of the party that they are inspired by? Is it a sudden awakening in the youth or the result of a vacuum in Pakistan’s politics created during much of the 2000s?

To understand this phenomena, one has to go back in time a little. Most of the younger generation, now in their 20s or early 30s grew up during Musharraf’s times when both the leaders of Pakistan’s main political parties -- the PPP and PML-N -- were either exiled or in self-exile. Even after they came back, they could not come up to the youth’s idealistic expectations due to either the force of the circumstances, as they say, or sheer lack of leadership skills.

As a result, it seems, there was no one the younger lot could look up to. Add to it a dilapidated education system and the element of radicalisation in society. Not inclined to look at the complexity of politics in Pakistan, the young generation seems to have found a cause. One staunch supporter of PTI is Ayesha Iqbal. Lecturer at Virtual University, Ayesha is impressed by Imran’s "charisma and the spotless past in money matters". She says Imran "has this ability to rally the nation around him on whatever he focuses upon -- be it cricket, cancer hospital, or now Naya Pakistan." She believes "Nawaz Sharif and Zardari have failed the nation so badly that the survival instinct of this nation perhaps is leading people to believe in Imran" as "they see hope in him."

The unblemished political career of Imran seems to have also played a part. "The party is led by an honest man, Imran Khan. Pakistan has a leadership crisis and I believe Imran is the only true leader Pakistan has," says Muhammad Umer, a LUMS graduate.

Tayaba Latif, lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), Multan, sees PTI in sharp contrast with the political governments in the past. "Time has proved that political governments in Pakistan have never been successful in delivering a stable and progressive system." Tayaba says the youth sees Imran and his party as "the best alternative" and want him and his party to get a chance to perform. "He is considered to be a symbol of modernity and the youth aspire a modern society and system in Pakistan."

Party’s ideology is another factor. Salma Muzaffar, a student at Kinnaird College says, "PTI talks about liberalism and that’s the best thing."

Others see the PTI and Imran as a messiah. Gulbaz Ali Khan, a social accountability practitioner, who keeps shuttling between Lahore and Peshawar for work, says he supports Imran as he is "a visionary leader and a hope of revitalisation of our polarised society which has been hijacked by undemocratic practices and bureaucracy." Gulbaz believes Imran "will free Pakistan from all evils by reforming and shaping the economy, bringing electoral and judicial reforms, creating mass political conscience, focusing on human development, and ensuring strict accountability."

To Saqib Ali Khan, an educationist based in Abbotabad, the best contribution of Imran "for our generation is that he has made us aware of our political and social rights. I had come to the conclusion that Pakistan cannot become what it was made for: empowering the masses, true democracy, and education for all. Imran is going to make this country a true Pakistan," he says, adding, "He has taken practical things in KP for improving human development levels. He has actually done things to win peoples’ hearts and trust."

Mushaf Fasie, a humanitarian worker based in Rawalpindi, is attracted to the slogan of a corruption-free Pakistan. "Imran Khan’s model is identified and cited as a corruption free society with revenue-generating Public Sector Enterprises, which will ultimately result in employment generation and a strong economy."

"I support PTI because our country stands at a junction where a political force that counters the existing traditional ruling parties is the answer," says Muhammad Amir, a graduate of Law from LUMS. He mentions PTI’s performance in KP. "Evidence of PTI’s efficient and effective working can be seen in KP where they have not only improved the police force they have also improved the healthcare and education system, two essential features of a stable country."

Irfan Ahmad Alvi is a lawyer based in Faisalabad. He believes "Imran is an anti-status quo leader who is neither a landlord nor a businessman." Alvi says Imran "hails from a middle class and is struggling for fundamental human rights so that poor and the marginalised could enjoy the same status as rich do." He thinks "Imran thinks about common people and is a symbol of change."

"The PTI is addressing the very basic issues of Pakistan -- the issues of the common man. Now is the time for a new party and new faces in politics," says Sehrish Latif, a student of Mass Communication at BZU.

Some think Imran must be appreciated for brining in the educated class in politics. Fatima Malik, a psychologist by profession, says, "Imran is not struggling for his own interests but for the prosperity of the country. He has attracted the educated class, earlier depoliticised, of the nation in politics."

Zainab Asad, a student of Media Studies at Kinnaird College, seconds this when she says, "Imran khan is not the typical politician that we have been seeing since years. He is the reflection of truth, selflessness, and determination that I see in his words. People say khan is arrogant but after interviewing him personally for 50 minutes, I dismiss this impression completely. He is an example of anti VIP culture. We want to have a leader whose actions make us believe that his life and death is for Pakistan.

The ‘charismatic doer’