More on Khan


As he sat across from Karan Thapar, Imran Khan wore his smug and confident look. When Thapar asked him about militant groups and whether Khan would denounce them he answered broadly in the affirmative. But Thapar is not the usually naïve and unabashedly sick-of-democracy Pakistani television anchor. He proceeded to ask Khan whether Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Daawa would be specifically mentioned. That was uncomfortable, for specifics are not conducive to Khan and his populism. Out came the reply which speaks volumes about the man and his philosophy. To paraphrase it Khan’s reply referred to Salmaan Taseer’s death about how the killer of a governor ‘becomes a hero’. Khan went on to say that Pakistan is the most polarised country in the world and that there is no point in being a hero in this country.
As many ‘electable’ candidates continue to join the ranks of PTI, Imran Khan has assumed unprecedented importance on the national scene. He is ambitious and an achiever in many ways. Yet I am not sure that he knows what he is doing. Worse? He knows exactly what he is doing and is continuing with it.
He is tapping into an anger that many in Pakistan feel – regarding financial corruption and the failings of the state. But his narrative is extremely narrow and perpetrates that what we must avoid. I have said it before in this space and I will say it here again today: financial corruption is not Pakistan’s biggest problem. Khan’s actions impliedly concede that yet his rhetoric never does — and I am pretty certain he does not realise this. His argument seems to be that once people join the ranks of his party, they will act differently. That concedes the point that corruption is not as deep rooted as he makes it out to be. But every time we question Khan’s logic there are personal attacks and my personal favourite criticism: ‘Who is this guy? Who lets him write?’
I do not share the one-dimensional view of financial corruption that most PTI supporters do. For me, ideas are important and I respect people who get agitated about ideas and not personalities. I do not see individuals as saviours and I loathe the messiah complex that far too many young people of my generation are plagued with. I do not think that taking money for private gain is limited to Pakistan or that that is what has restricted Pakistan’s potential. Financial corruption was not what broke Pakistan into two and financial corruption is not what is threatening Pakistan’s integrity.
I usually would be the first to distrust Transparency International’s indices about corruption and its perceptions. But even by that measure Pakistan has performed better under this government. Of course that is not a conversation that the PTI, its followers or the national media wants to have. What none of these understand is this: Institutions struggle with each other as a country evolves and they end up imposing checks and balances on each other — not always out of benevolence or the national good but because they want to retain their own clout. That is a natural process and must be given time. The national media which often treats democracy and politicians with shameful disdain needs to realise this.
PTI supporters and sympathisers often make the argument that Khan needs electables with him to bring a change. But I am not sure what this so called change implies. To someone who already thinks that financial corruption is not the biggest issue there are bigger and more difficult battles to pick and the civil military imbalance and the fight against militancy tops the list. And by fight, I mean the fight of ideas just as powerful as the fight of arms.
It is every bit as corrupt for a leader at the national scene to see something and then not speak out against it if he disagrees with it or sees its potential dangers. It is far more corrupt for someone to engage with an ideology without bothering to confront the destruction it has wreaked. The lack of an ability to tolerate dissent and questions and then to perpetrate that as change is the most invidious sort of corruption in my eyes.
It is not difficult to stir up the emotions of Pakistanis – we are an emotional lot. Far too many of us for far too often have been fed this military establishment sponsored narrative in which all politicians are corrupt and the system needs an overthrow every now and then. This narrative focuses on financial corruption and not ideas. It focuses on simple one-line answers and not nuanced approaches. It facilitates blaming other powers — for using us, for leaving the region etc — and not ourselves for breeding militancy.
A few among the many in Pakistan have managed to distort the national discourse — with the threat and use of arms. There are also those who do not want questions regarding Khan because, as the argument goes, ‘who else’? But someone who believes that this country does not need a hero is a coward and does not believe in the fight of ideas. He believes not in pragmatism but rhetoric. Someone who avoids specifics has shallow ideas and a failure to admit that is inherently corrupt. Someone who fails to confront all that is dangerous within Pakistan (chiefly, the army sponsored narrative) is exactly what we need to avoid. Khan is wrong, dead wrong. We need difficult questions and we need a battle of ideas. Standing up for ideas might make you unpopular and make others resent you. But that is exactly what we need. Regardless of what the PTI supporters tell you, let us not forget that there is every point in being a hero in this country and condemning violence and the narrative that apologises for it.

The writer is a Barrister and an Advocate of the High Courts. He has a special interest in Antitrust law and is currently pursuing an LLM at a law school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


  1. Dear Waqas – Like many others i smell criticism from you're article and yet you have not provided a solution to the miseries the people of the country face! For me an honest person is the answer whether that be Khan or any X,Y.Z leader, its regardless. I will not under any situation vote for the people who enjoy all amenities of life and yet the poorer are getting poorer! do you even realize our so called leaders, the sharif's and the bhutto's are playing in billions now, mind you dollars and not rupees? Get on with life and start providing solutions rather just criticizing people and their ideologies, there is a term in english choose between the lesser of the evils, thats the only choice u have, so live with it.

  2. from reading your article, it is obvious that you have never led anything important, in your life.

    so it would be unfair to say anything against you.

  3. rhetoric. what are the key ideas you are trying to communicate. simple ranting is what our newspapers need to avoid.

  4. lol we dont need military to make us see the curruption of the governemnt. just look how the assets of the sharifs and zardaris grew from the point they were in the governemnt to the point they went out. on top of that, they live like kings in a democracy with these protocals and big mansions where there are more than 60 percent poor people. they also have no experstise how to run the governemt except using the name of bhutto. They also havent been able to change the thana culture and patwaris. IF a person is involved in financial curruption, it is obvious that he is not honest about serving the poor. How will you run the governemnt with dishonest people? therefore Curruption is the biggest issue right now! second to line is to get rid of this family political parties. Brother all you need to do is open your eyes.

  5. @waqas mir
    so you say we should promote heroes, so who in your eyes we should look up to. zardari, sharif or maulana fazal or altaf hussain or wali khan. just tell us. Atleast IK has achieved great things in life and more importantly he is clean, determined and wants to make the difference. opinion like yours is in minority. majority of people of pakistan still have the same opinion about terrorism or unemployment as IK have. meritrocrisy and justice whether social or judicial is the main reason we are lagging behind other nations. remember there was no terrorism in pak before 9/11 and even if we take your point, how long you are ready to fight and gaurantee that you will win. i am sorry but your biase from the start says it all. you have not talked about any solution for anything which pakistan is facing. your problem is that you are seeing pakistan with western glasses on. if you take them off, you will see clearly that people of pakistan are actualy ready to give imran khan a chance which he deserves.

  6. Well, since anything anti PTI sells like hot cake, so I see your are writing again.

    Good analysis, but here is what I have been asking you in my comments again and again….what is the solution! You are doing LLM and I am assuming you have pretty much spend half of your life…enlighten us with what you have done so far to serve this nation – one concrete example (other than sending invitations for idea debate). I am not against debates but certainly not interested in debate that wont be followed without any action – and sorry to say all of so called analyst like you ave done just this!

    I suggest next time you write an article that enlighten us with your thoughts on how the condition of a common man can be improved in our country.

    until then enjoy hot chocolate and x-mass holidays!

  7. Why every negative entity has a extreme positive image in our mind … cause we like to THROW STONES on others sitting in a shield.

  8. dude, why dont u openly confess that u write for a website that supports PPP,…if u really have the courage then u will openly acknowledge it

  9. ….and this is coming form someone living abroad! Perhaps you should move to Texas with your cowbuy hat and befriend the Bush family! Who are you? A nobody….only clicked on this article because of IK.

  10. Yes We need no so called heroes. It should be issue based politics.
    We need secular & liberal values to follow.
    We don't need 7th century Khilafat e Rashida, we need 21st century solution to our problema.

  11. What a realistic article by Mr.WAQAR..I invite all the learned people to go through the article carefully n the offer COMMENTS.Hanif Awan

  12. People in profession of law are trained to defend criminals for a fee and you see Mr. Mir doing his thing. Lawyers are dangerous people who should work under strict supervision of judges. Anybody supporting corruption is harmful to the society and should be put down.
    IK is correct in focusing on corruption but it is one item among many of the criminal activities. IK should look at reform of police, prosecutors and judicial system as a whole and remove political intervention from political office holders.
    At the core of all issues is economic growth and how to achieve it. I have not seen IK talk about economic issues at any length. I hope he does.

  13. Respect for your analysis Mr Waqqas!
    I am not anti IK but not even a blind follower of his regime…I feel that he's just creating a bubble of expectations, which will burst with the passage of time since I haven't seen him giving any practical solutions to the misery of our people!

  14. Mr Waqas if you are so perturbed about Imran Khan's silence and "apparent cowardice" over Salman Taseer's murder, then why dont you come back and fight ST's case against Mumtaz Qadri. Show the nation your "IDEAS" which you have consistently flouted in the whole column. Isn't it a good idea?.

    • That doesn't stand to reason. There is no "ST's case." There is only Qadri's case. Murder is a crime against the state. So the legal team against Qadri is the Prosecution i.e the government lawyer. A private lawyer cannot plead it.
      Get you facts about the law right first.

  15. i'm not a critic !!! somehow i am feeling like questioning my self….who led us to listen IK at the first place…when nobody listened to him in 16 yrs…. he was saying the same rhetoric back then…why now….is it establishment?…something went very wrong definitely…and IK no doubt is becoming a hope….i am afraid if it turns out to be a false hope…what will happen then?

  16. As far as I know some entire capable and reknown technocrats/economost are working on policies of PTI behind the scene, they do not want their name to be disclosed. One of the economist resigns from top financial position in recent government, just a clue dont name here, btw there are many finance mgrs/economists who resigns in this government.

  17. Dispassionately speaking, can Imran Khan be specific about tackling our massive circular debt and reducing the size of our Army and bloated bureaucracy? Or does he think that slogans will carry him through?

  18. Good argument. Although I am still in favor of Imran Khan but the disgusting frenzy with which a certain section of the political elite is making a beeline for PTI, driven by greed for state positions and the patronage that comes with it has left me feeling very sick indeed. This motley crowd is no different from the People who pushed and shoved each other for sacks of flour during the floods. What can they give to this country. They are themselves destitute and will do anything for a post in the government.

  19. I have your article an honest read but I will agree with several comments here – stop criticizing and start offering solutions. Perhaps you consider it fashionable to show that you are not jumping on the IK bandwagon! I live in Lahore and I love my country. I was a Nawaz Sharif (rather Shahbaz Sharif) fan – but the Sharifs have done nothing other than bide time and wait for their turn. BB was a smart person but PPP is corrupt to the core. So yes – I will vote for IK. He may not have all the answers but let's face it – answers to our problems are not easy. You haven't provided a single one. So I will place my bets on honesty and integrity!


  20. Weightless article just twist of words used, no valid reason evidance backing up points .
    finding problem and making ppl aware of it is 1st step , u cant axpect him to present road map in detail , they r not in govt yet , slogans and punch lines are used at this stage its totaly useless to criticize some one whos bringing valid points and opening minds of masses , id ont see any thing wrong in it , our main problem that we are going in darkness is that we forgot our respect and rights , we got used to every wroong done to us , since how many years we dont even have water or electricity , u wud say every one knows about it its not new thing? but if some one wakes u up for that , then its bad thing for u? or u wana continue slavelife forever ? corruption/dishonesty is root cause of every thing if ur able to pin point it, its solution is simple , implement law and replace wrong ppl , whats rocket science in it that u need a solution for it lol? if some oine is not working properly in ur org what wud u do?u wud find out whos that and u wud replace it , i dont respect lawyers they lie half of their life to get money .they get paid to make white out of black , nice try

  21. ur not even living in pak to judge the situation u dont know what these evil leaders r doing with thew country they r selling our blood , killing own ppl , they tryed to bring US army to make situation like in libiya egypt etc to kill us all and steal our assets and nukes

  22. Waqas Mir your articles and the reasons you gave therein smack of bias and prejudice. You have become disappointed from the person who has not yet gained power and shown his performance.
    You are not ready to give him any space, though you know very well that there a number of political grey areas which should not be talked about unless you have the power to assert a change (Jammat ud dawa being one of them). Had he been very upfront with Karan Thappar about such issues, people would have been up in arms against him and journalists like our Urdu media would have been labelling IK as politically naive. And he did give a Policy Statement" with which his wise supporters are content.
    Wait and let him come to power. If he proves to be another corrupt politician out of the abundant lot we are facing now, we, the students, will be the first to protest against Imran Khan. But please do not spread disappointment now.
    We know that people of your calibre who have read a lot, pose as being sceptical of everything being liked or supported by the Masses just to show your distinction and your very very refined analytical skills

  23. Given the choice between an honest, upright and scrupulous leader working in conjunction with other state institutions ie Establishment, SC etc.. And a corrupt and venal leader with chronic tussles with them. I would always choose the first and so would every sane individual with a thinking mind.

    If Army, balance of power among institutions and role of establishment are the biggest issues in your eyes then the surest way to deal with them is to adopt Tayyeb Ordagan approach i.e. Set a neat, clean and transparent standards yourself first which will give you the moral and ethical power to take them on. Whichever way you look at it, the buck always stops at the politicians' door.

    • no it does not. you don't know half the history of Turkey and if you think Erdogan is a success story then check again. and you completely discounted the role of EU. Only Musharraf apologists think Turkey is similar to Pakistan. Turkey's army is decidedly secular, ours is highly leveraged with a jihadist approach.

      • The ideology does not matter here, right or left wing. The issue at hand is too much power concentrated in the establishment grasp and the correct way to wrestle the initiative away from them. The only way a democracy can keep check on an unruly army is by using the people's power against it. And the only way to retain the favours of the people is by serving and governing them justly and scrupulously.

        The buck stops at the politicians my friend.

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