Why we must not elect Imran


“He is a symbol of hope for all Pakistanis,” I said in the opening line of my satire column last week (Why we must elect Imran published in this space on October 12). It turned out, at the end of the first paragraph, that I was referring to Quaid-e-Azam and not Imran Khan. Surprise is the secret to funny, and it worked.

But the problem with hope is that it is always distant, transcendental, and fantastic. It must be a promise, not an outcome, or it will not work. That is why Pakistanis associate it with Jinnah. If it were here and now, people would begin to see problems with it. Like we can now see problems with Imran Khan.

For those who insisted Imran Khan must be taken seriously, here’s a close look at the problems with the promised land that he claims he will make Pakistan into:

1) Imran Khan says he will end the state’s use of force against its own citizens.

A consequence of that policy will be that the state’s writ will erode. At the core of the state’s existence is its monopoly on violence in the area it claims to control. This violence is exercised through police, the judiciary, and the military. If the state will start to share this exclusive right with local and Afghan insurgent groups associated with Al-Qaeda and Taliban, it will not be sovereign any longer. The same groups are also involved in sectarian violence in Pakistan. Where will the concessions stop? Will they also be extended to criminals who do not associate themselves with religion?

2) Imran Khan says he will make the judiciary independent.

But the movement for the restoration of judges sacked by former President Pervez Musharraf, of which Imran Khan was a part, has only politicised the judiciary. The assumption he is selling is that some individuals with no political or ideological affiliations are capable of dispensing ideal, platonic, justice. But ideological and political affiliations solidified during the Lawyers Movement, and Imran Khan was also concerned with more than just the letter of law. Will he call for high treason proceedings against the chief justice for legitimising the 1999 coup and allowing Musharraf to change the constitution, and then again, after being restored once, allowing a serving General Musharraf to run for president?

3) Imran Khan says true democracy will rid Pakistan of people like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari who run their own parties like dictators.

But Imran Khan is also a bit of tyrant in his own party. How many local elections has his own party had in the last 10 years? How many times have Islami Jamiat Talaba dissidents been appointed ad hoc to important positions in his hometown? In the larger political parties, second-tier leaders can always exercise their niche influence or group together to pressure party leaders into considering new options and making decisions they might not have otherwise made. But that is not possible in a party that has no second-tier leadership to speak of.

4) Imran Khan promises change, and that appeals to everyone not happy with the status quo.

But at the heart of the policies he claims to adopt are people responsible for the status quo. He gets his security and foreign affairs advice from people who are, or have been, part of the establishment that is responsible for the situation we are in, especially with national sovereignty and terrorism. His past and potential future candidates have been part of the mainstream parties he blames for Pakistan’s political problems, many of them joining him because of real or perceived signals from the establishment, or because their own parties rejected them. How will these people bring a change?

5) The fate of Imran Khan’s party, and if he wins, the fate of Pakistan, depends very heavily on one individual.

For such an icon, Imran Khan has very little personal credibility. In his personal life, he is an icon of hypocrisy. In his political life, he has always switched positions – from the War on Terror that he had not criticised until he parted ways with Musharraf several years later, to the tactical position on Blasphemy Law before and after Salmaan Taseer was murdered. Can we trust such a man, even if he is honest?

But the most important problem with Imran Khan’s promises is that they are not grounded in concrete policy plans. That, as I said, is the problem with hope. It is always a promise, and never a policy. And it is fine that way. That is why we must not elect Imran Khan.

The writer is a media and culture critic and works at The Friday Times. He tweets @paagalinsaan and gets email at [email protected]


  1. bhai tere ko problem kia hai yar . tere ko zardari itna pasand hai tou to pakistan wapis kiyun nahi jata.

    • Mr Amin, sorry to pop your worldview but I am already in Pakistan and I choose to live in Pakistan despite having other options. It is obvious that you don't live in Pakistan. So how about, 'tere ko imran khan itna pasand hai to tou Pakistan wapis kiyun nahee aata?'
      Like I said in my article, for you Imran Khan is a symbol of hope because you're too far away to actually be affected by the mess he will lead us into.

      Thanks for the comment anyway.

      • So what is your recommendation Mr. Harris , whom should we elect ,, any suggestions ? Konsa Farishta aap ki nazar mein hay hameeN bhi bataaye huzoor ….. … Hazrat maulvi Maulana Zaradari Dus feesadi …. yah Muhtaram Qibla Nawaz Sharif Raiwand walay .. ya Peer -e Karachi Hazrat Altaf Hussain London walay ya … phir … Maulana Fazl ur rehman Diesel ya phir … Koi aur …
        Bhai sahab , Imran is not an angel for sure ..but really better than the current lot of politician we have . Lets try him ,,, instead of trying the same faces . hopefully he will deliver , if not at-least we can tell our kids ,, we tried the best option we thought we had.

        • I'm not sure where you guys live, but in Pakistan there are no direct presidential elections. You're gonna have to elect a party. Imran Khan just made an alliance with the PML-Q 'likeminded' splinter group. Which one of those faces are new? How many people who have contested byelections on the PTI ticket recently are new faces? How many new PTI converts are new faces?

          • I'm not sure where you guys live, but in Pakistan there are no direct presidential elections. You're gonna have to elect a party. Imran Khan just made an alliance with the PML-Q 'likeminded' splinter group. Which one of those faces are new? How many people who have contested byelections on the PTI ticket recently are new faces? How many new PTI converts are new faces?

          • Your argument seems to be that since Imran Khan is not offering new faces, we should vote for the old faces? Am I getting you right?

            Quite a paradoxical argument that that is, I must say, there is no bad in taking the good from those old parties, coz after all there are going to be some good people in them. We don't want "new" faces. We want "sincere" and "honest" faces. Be it new ones, or from within the old ones.

          • You mean Hamid Nasir Chattha, Khurshid Kasuri, Mian Asif, Chaudhry Amir Hussain Gujjar, Nasrullah Dareeshak and Afzal Sahi are honest people? Why did Imran Khan not see their honesty when they were supporting Musharraf? 🙂

          • I don't know about these people, whether they are honest or not, and wether they are being invited to PTI. But I know that Imran Khan is honest himself, and strongly dislikes dishonest people. So I place my confidence in his judgement.

          • bhai sahab , ok maan liya imran khan ku vote na daiN .. lekin politics kay is hammam mein sub hi nangay heiN .. … Aap mujhay batao .. whom are u going to vote and why ? guide me … instead of spreading these conspiracy theories ..

            I know you will not answer me this .. because you are part of status quo … you are agent of that rotten politics .. You dont have any answer and people who are willing to try something new you are just misguiding them …Think about it … please .. , Seems like you have good way to express yourself , you are young energetic and educated .. ,,please please please .. ,, dont misuse your power of expression… Dont stand at wrong side …

    • now imran khan make alliance with hamid nasir chattha and pml q ham khayal group
      this is 'new' pple, in ur opinion???

    • Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan is the ONLY solution….analyze with open mind & heart…check their leadership…the members…vision…& track record!!!

    • Anyone Secular… anyone.. leave the religion in storage and drive the country towards modernisation and economic prosperity.

          • you should contact mental hospital thats the place all those people belong who think imran khan is wrong inshallah he would become next prime miniter those against them could become zardari’s toilet cleaner in PTI government…

    • (proudpakistani) or what ever you are i don't give a damn on what you say but you must face the facts imran khan khan popularity in pakistan is on its peak more than 70% of pakistani youth is with him you can run your mouth all you want but inshallah PTI would emerge sucessful in next election

  2. Well well the writer has some personal assumption and illogical reasons to represents people like IK with very premature logical assumption and he motivated buy the old costum and some personal motive first any one is dreamer and want to give and bring change the life of the people so is'nt bad i dont think so why the people critisize all the way with no solid reason and see the oneway traffic and traffic should be two-way and give the direction.

  3. I)Believe or not your column give us get more encouragement to see and judge ourselves and compare the comparisons the other choice we have in the End.
    ii)Give more Insight of the Conspiracies how the people affected by the Less knowlege and try to Give unreasons to show people little bit of spark but Unfortunately unsuccesful yet again but carry one and we will also carry our passion to guide and motivate the people of PK.
    III)Because should we should come against the corruption.
    IV) For last > 60 years of suffering the people want Better life and they deserve it!
    So no matter what We will carry our responsibilities for future of children and for their life and we will give our input for better pakistan and change the image of pakistan and we will very soon
    Encouraging the people to come and Join the new Politics with new leadership.

    • he make alliance with musharraf pmlq ham khayal and hamid nasir chatha and jamat islami
      none of them is new people new leadership. only old people new garb

      • You can not bring new people and must rely on the old. The reason is electoral system where people vote to personalities in their respective areas and not the party leadership and whatsoever, you can not make them vote for new personality, unless he/she is backed by the same old feudal/industrialist. We need to understand that the corruption is problem and not the corrupt. If you wish to extinct the corrupt people, you would extinct more than 90 % Pakistanis. But it should not leave you disappointed. Corruption is there even in the least corrupt countries of the world. All we can do is to make a system that is capable of lessening the corruption. And to make such a system, we need to bring Imran Khan into power because other politicians won't work against corruption as they need it to survive. So it is better that Imran makes an alliance with old politicians, otherwise the dream of change would only remain a dream.

  4. Pakistan was also founded by the determination of a single man. It's fate has always depended heavily upon a single man. Your surface knowledge is pathetic. Your photo is worse.

    • one million people were died when pakistan was make. half of the them was muslims. you want it again to happen?

      • You want 180 million Pakistanis to continue living enslaved?
        Shame on you, and those who think like you.

        • pakistan is already make. millions already die. now why you say enslaved? keep using enslaved word to war mongering and hatred. who is enslave? by export terror to whole world, freedom will come?

  5. Wow, this article is hysterical! It is least of my my intention to defend the Imran Khan's political strategy or provide the justification for above mentioned five claims to be precise but I certainly would like to renounce some irrational rather childish arguments made by the writer of this article. Let me break it down claim by claim for you my friend so that it can fit into the narrow window of your political perception and vision:
    1) Where did you get this idea that when Imran condemned the state's use of force on their citizens, he meant to give the criminal freedom to the general public? The way you have tried to associate the negative connotation to the claim shows your personal bias and hatred for something (I don't know). Any ways, if you honestly try to comprehend the idea behind the claim, you will come to know that it supports the true and legal enforcement of Pakistan's laws and regulations and refuse the ideas and actions of illegally suppressing the people by abusing the authority.

  6. Another so called analyst who is quick to criticize Imran, People like this are the main reason are country is in the state it is in. Anyone who challenges the control of the political elite and ther cronies is hammered with pathetic articles to break the spirit of the masses, because end of the day these people have an interest to maintain the status qou.

    • Change will Insha Allah come. Do not worry. Similar article, though lesser stupid, was written by George Fulton in another newspaper and he is still being cursed by the masses of people. Insha Allah Imran Khan will rise. Keep your commitments firm.

  7. well said imran. i think the article is quite understandable as after all, its not just monetary corruption that imran khan is fighting, but also intellectual corruption. For those who will be quick to call me a typical jiyala who has no arguments and resorts to rhetoric, I have gone down that road many times. Infact i wrote a detailed letter to the editor on haris' last article which pakistan today chose not to publish. i have slowly realized im wasting my time on people who dont want to listen, because they are too comfortable in the way things are running at present.

  8. Dear Author: Haaris Bin Munawar Bin Zardari via Nawaz..

    1) Is that a Hat or Wig on your head, please can you clarify?

    2) Did you recently audition for X factor as the Pakistani Justin Timberlake?

    3) Do your parents know that you are staying up late and writing these funny articles?

    • dear Shaz, i really enjoyed your comments on this article and you have given very good reply to this writer. i think only your words are enough for him and he will think 10 times before writing such an article again. i was very exhausted in office and you really made my laugh. thank you so much. you are so funny 🙂

    • imran supporter have no logic no reason
      after watching too three shows u do not become stand up comedian

      do ur parent know u suck?

  9. Inshallah, this idiot and his cronies will see how the country rises above all analysis to elect Imran Khan as Prime Minister. We dont realize but we are going through a Historical period as this isnt just going to change Pakistan but it will impact the rest of the sub continent, and the world.

  10. This person told us why we must not elect Imran, he should also tell us why we should or should not elect Zardari or Nawaz Sharif, you dont have to be a rocket scientist to pick one from these three people, IMRAN KHAN!

  11. Kon pagal hay bhai yehhh..is ka ata pata tu chalooo..yeh chez kia hayy..is kay damagh ma IK hi kiyn beth gaya hay ja ker..yeh zardari aur shareef kay baray may kiyn nahi likhtaa…is kaum ki tragedy yehi hayy kay iss may her wakt mir jafer aur mir sadiq lakho ki tadad may mil jatayhayy..jo insan is kaum kay bhalaye kay liaya apni personal life khatam ker sayy..jo insaniat ki khidmat kay liay din rat aik kerdayyy..woh bhi kisi faiday kay bagairr..us kay baray may yeh sub likhnaaa…thodi tu sharam kerooo..

  12. Guys – must we attack anybody and everybody who dares to upset our delicate opinions? I'm reading the comments to this article and wondering what happened to the right of an individual to express his opinions. And we respond with generic statements like "disgusting" or "people like this are the main reason our country is in the state it is in".

    I, for one, support Imran Khan. But I have my reasons. Just like Harris here has stated his reasons why he would not support IK. And thats democracy. Learn to play by the rules people!

    So Harris states 5 reasons not to support IK. While I do not agree with all 5, I will state the single biggest reason why I support IK which is that IK will be a new player. Give him a chance. Personally I'm sick of the PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, MQM, etc parties and politics of reconciliation. These guys are suitcase politicians, they have no stakes in this country!! Pick up the paper today. PML-N is threatening to turn on PPP (yet once again). They're squabbling over who should be the NAB chairman for Gods sake! Playing musical chairs in the assemblies! While the nation is lost in the darkness of the power crises, or the people of the Sindh floods are still 'affected', or while dengue continues to kill 10 odd citizens a day in Punjab. The government is corrupt as hell. Mismanagement is rampant as our 3-4 state organizations result in millions of rupees sunk every day.

    I have faith in him, in his organization, in the people he's recruited in his organization. We sat and watched while he lead a broken team of people in 92 to bring us an honor we cherish till today. We sat and watched as he put up the first Cancer hospital – something we said was impossible. Have faith and listen to your conscience. You still want to vote for MQM, PPP, or the PMLs Harris – be my guest. I vote for a change.

  13. Ok, for a second lets just say the writer has nailed it and we must not elect Imran Khan… whom do we elect then? The writer should come up with another piece, suggesting an alternative who scores positive on all of the writer's points raised here against Imran.

    Till then I am definitely voting for Imran, and spreading the word for him.

  14. Yes, we should elect Nawaz Sharif or keep Asif Zardari in office for another term. After all, I live in NYC and I could care less what happens to the bozos in Pakistan. By the way, pick on Imran Khan, you become instantly well known. Imagine if I had thrown mud on Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, would you have taken me seriously?

  15. This writer got paid big $$$ for writing this shallow article. The parties with second tier leadership has only helped spread corruption of party leaders. Second, if Imran khan can run the cancer hospital by dictatorship without external aid so can he run the country.

    Dude you focus on getting your green card and stay back there.

  16. Not a bad critique…

    The Good: It is admirable that Imran Khan is one of the few uncorrupted individuals. He has done some great philanthropic work with his hospital. He appears to be better than the other two leaders (PPP and PML-N) in terms of not having leached off the Nations coffers.

    The Bad: But having a former playboy with a second class BA turn into a Mullana and pro-Taliban Supporter gives anxiety to people who want to educate their daughters. Right now his supporters are yearning for a saviour…looking at him with glistening glee. Hope their proven right and he does good for the Nation.

  17. WE must choose our leadership from the available options; Zardari/PPP has nothing to do with the public of Pakistan. Nawaz Sherif is an option but he has been tested before not just once but twice. So the best available is IMRAN KHAN!!!

  18. Next, you need to write an article on "Why you must NOT write any articles" or "Why newspapers should not print your articles" or "Why people should not read your articles"

  19. Dumbest writer …… ,, or maybe Nawaz Sharif 's paid puppet.. who knows….

    Anyways .. Mr. Writer you did not tell us whom should we elect if not imran .. Your boss N$ or mr. 10% ? any suggestions..

    • exactly, this so lame excuse of a writer is presenting us with his issues with Imran Khan without providing a solution of any kind. Besides, he is an ass kisser of present owners of this country.

  20. Imran is our next Khalifa. Please please elect him so that we can finally destroy yahood o hinood o nasara etc. with the help of our Islamic jihadi warriors like Taliban, who have already defeated Russia and America. Curses for those who oppose Imran.

  21. Imran's jiyalas are loser, they have no point and no mannerism when they criticise the writer… have some sense people!

  22. You are such a moron. It’s obvious you are very biased and no matter what so-called writers like you write, you can’t change people’s decision. They HAVE decided to bring a change and you can’t stop that now, no matter how hard you and your masters try. Thanks

  23. sadly with third class intellect, the writer appears just another sad product of the political mafia that rules pakistan…….good news though is, as most comments suggest, he is a lost soul who doesnt have even a good control over language, and the article simply lacks any attration, so whoever is the actual maai baap financing this "kal ka bacha" who needs alot of literary maturity, should rethink their policy

    • What baseless form of a debate is this? Personal attacks on a person's intellect and accusations of perceived affiliations.
      No wonder we're getting nowhere.

  24. Look at this everyone!

    Look at all these idiotic Imran Khan fans! They can't stand criticism of their leader! You are as Pathetic as the Jialas of Bhutto! None of you want freedom of speech! All you want is to support your leadership without giving anyone a chance to raise questions against him!

    I salute the author and I respect his views!

    Look at the language used in the comments section by Imran Khan supporters! You are all too classy! (Sarcasm intended) Go to the lower classes of this country! People who do not have a facebook account or internet! Ask them what they think about Imran Khan and they respond " All the rich are alike!". These people are the majority of Pakistan! Not these 13 year old children with access to the internet who support Imran Khan on Facebook and other social media!

    There wasn't a single logical reply! Not one!

    • If you do not stop your anti Imran rhetoric, i will tell the Navy Seals that you (Osama) are still alive! Vote for Imran and I guarantee you i would make a speaker's corner for you in every park (just like Hyde Park, London), loser!

  25. Had you spent more time on research than on shaving at least thrice for this photo, it would have been a better article (and a better picture too). Get some life, respect!

  26. @Osama: If you do not stop your anti Imran rhetoric, i will tell the Navy Seals that you (Osama) are still alive! Vote for Imran and I guarantee you i would make a speaker's corner for you in every park (just like Hyde Park, London), loser!

  27. Those who say Imran got support from the educated masses only need to know that if one knowledgeable man favours IK, it is not one voter, it is a group of voters (his friends and family) that he will bring with him/her.

  28. I congratulate you on your excellent ability of ignoring 90% of the facts to prove your point. I have read a number of anti- Imran Khan articles that actually do have a worthwhile content. You have only succeeded in showing how big an ignorant you are. It is easy to distort historical facts that people forget but remember you cant fool everyone all the time

  29. Dear trolls
    Just because your mothers did not give you the necessary amount of attention growing up, you do not automatically have the right to try and steal some from a syndicated columnist :p

    Dear Harry
    For the record, the last one was better 😛

    • Oh yeah? then why didn't you kill him when you had the chance? you shouldve reserved a seat in the bus to paradise.
      I don't know you personally but I'm sure what upsets you is that he is anti-Taliban! Do I have to explain the rest?

  30. This type of stuff just raise the questions about the starand of paper that carries such trash!

  31. Comments on the author's credibility and personal attacks on his hairdo. All in response to an opinion he hold. This is the main reason for incompetent leaders being elected time and again, without any significantly productive debate. Very few of the comments actually dissected the author's claims for IK not being the first choice to lead this country, instead 'analysing' the author's perceived reasons for penning this piece, besides being distracted by his country of residence, and of course, his hairdo.

    We could go and on with such fruitless 'debate', marred by accusations and attacks on character. No wonder we getting nowhere. I sincerely hope that these are not the youth whose support IK vies for.

    For the record, I agree with the author's claims, barring the logic of the first.

    • In his previous column Author was doing same with ShereeN mazari ..personal attacks on her weight and gender.. and Arif Alvi 's being dentist..

      I think He well deserve to have those personal attacks on him.. .anyways he can hold whatever he likes to hold. lol

  32. Excellent article! The author puts out some clear, logical and well thought out points and in returns is assailed by a bunch of idiotic ignoramuses on his hair-style, his hat and on supposed flaws in his ancestry. This alone shows the caliber of IK supporters on the net.
    Let us see, Imran goes out and sleeps with all those English girls, drinks himself silly, is a playboy, has a daughter out of wedlock and then shamefully denies his paternity! (so much for ghairatmand Musulman) but when it comes to us, he wants us to submit to the Taliban, grow our beards, lock up our women and return to the middle ages. Bravo Mr. Khan and his retarded supporters.

  33. Imran fans are only hurling abuse and names….Give some logic, argument and leave Harris hair style alone…!

    • Read his previous column please and see what did he write … .. All personal attack on physical attributes of a woman .. their occupation … ……. and really Harris hairstyle is awesome ..but thoughts are really shallow and ugly..

  34. 1.Imran Khan is the head of an organization not a political kingdom setup by ancestors-a political party set up on the basis of democracy which chooses people on the single basic criteria which is sincerity to this nation.

    2.the coalition that has ruined this country the pml n and ppp are entities that need to be forgotten.they have long held the position of power players in the political arena.as they proudly say the ivy league or the russel group needs to have new comers.this political friendship has brought us to a stage where we face economic disintegration and an ongoing war with our own people.

    3.well,nawaz sharif as some say is the sign of change or well if hes not then zardari is or well the chaudhrys of gujrat or the goon sitting in london-obviously according to the writer one of these great men is honest and in a position to be trusted because of course as he says one can not trust imran khan.for heavens sake broader perspectives need to be taken,not every policy pays off its the ideology that matters.the NIYYAT as the call it in mosques.

    hope the writer gets the message.it should be understood that jounalists hold an important position,they mould a nations thoughts and by writing articles such as this the political revolution that pakistan ought to see is being hindered-close to being an enemy of this nation.

  35. Imran Khan, as the writer puts him a big hipocrite and rightly so, will make this country plunge into another phase of uncertainity. Some body kindly tell him that running a country is not a one-day cricket match that may fetch him the title of man-of-the-match on a certain day. He has been too arrogant a cricketer even and had cudgles with the honest crickters such as Javed Miandad who had to literally fight with him on accasions to take steps of wisdom. Having said that no other person in Pakistan is comepetent enough to run the affairs as politician–thanks to the anarchy the corrupt politicians and the military have landed this country in. If Pakistan fails to produce a prudent leadership in the years to come, it'll find itself entangled in more issues–locally and internationally.

  36. The article has done nothing wrong by asking the questions so as to allow appropriate due diligence and thought to be given when voting, This being a key mistake of voters in pakistan in the past. Clearly evident from what we have in parliament at the moment. The writer has relied on headline facts about IK's life and changes in political stance. My response to these are that IK has made some decisions in his personal life which may not resonate with some but it was his personal life and his alone which has not impacted others to hold against him. To some it was an achievement they could not dream about but ofcourse some will disagree for clear reasons. regarding his change and stance on political issues – Any man who believes they should not change because of principle is short sighted. To change means to progress, Life is a learning process and with everything new there is a learning curve which he has had to battle through the last 15 years and get to where he has. easy to point fingers but the politics of pakistan is rather complicated by generations of voting trends which do not change because of family and ties rather than policy and manisfestos.

  37. Readers have hit the nail on the head regarding the alternative options on teh shelf which are past their sell by date by a mile. Change is evident throughout the world and fiercely in neighbouring middle east which is blowing winds through pakistan and needs to be fed. It is true the large families dominating the 2 parties are preparing their own children to lead the nation but this time they have been caught in preparation and IK is knocking the door… it is the people of pakistan who must decide and break away to give change a chance. I would say to the writer continue as it is helping us confirm why we choose Imran and tehreek e Insaf

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