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Friday, October 19, 2018
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THE UNIMPORTANCE OF BEING IMRAN KHAN
Manzoor Ahmed

With a few months to go for the general elections in his country that he swears he will win, Imran Khan, the darling of Pakistan’s middle classes and the twitterati who think the world of him, has got married for the third time.

The much-speculated marriage is confirmed, and with photographs, by leaders of his party, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), so there is no confusion, no ambiguity. Imran Khan is unlikely to expel those leaders – unless the marriage itself, like his second one that ,lasted barely 10 months, fails.

At least, the Great Khan need not kick and protest that he is being maligned and that there is a ‘conspiracy’ by his detractors. This is what he has done for the past several months since his marriage to Bushra Maneka was speculated.

Indeed, in January, he had wondered whether he had robbed a bank or committed any crime when his only ‘crime’ has been to get married. He was denying being married just a few weeks ago. And now the shroud of mystery and ‘conspiracies’ has lifted, The handsome Khan has, in a manner of speaking, walked down the isle. But of course, he was married by a Qazi and that very close family members attended the ceremony.

But his sisters stayed away. They dominate his life and indeed, they were said to be responsible for ruining the second marriage with TV celebrity Reham Khan that led to an abrupt divorce.

If there is no jubilation among the twitterati who love Khan, it is because they have had enough of him. The country is in turmoil with an unstable government that Khan wants defeated at the elections. The country under watch for terror funding (which Khan does not seem to mind, if not concerned about) and could invite economic sanctions.

But if Khan acolytes are hoping that he can fight it all and win the elections, they are dismayed. Their hero is weak and has conveyed his abject dependence upon his new wife who is a Pir and a faith healer. The lady in her 40s, also married and divorced, has been Khan’s soul-mate for some time.

Officially, she is Khan’s third wife, but Khan, who had married Jemima, the British heiress, had a few affairs while in England laying cricket and at least one woman has alleged that she bore his child out of wedlock. Khan, of course, disowned the woman and the child.

He has been a lawmaker since 1996, the only one of his party for long years. His rising profile on the social media added to his fame as a renowned cricketer to win him political support and today he leads the country’s second largest party.

His party failed to prevent Nawaz Sharif’s victory in 2013 and that has angered Khan ever since. His challenging that before the Election Commission, then attacking the Election Commission itself, his challenging it before the court, then calling the judiciary bad names, his laying a siege of Parliament for several days – all this is part of the contemporary political folklore of Pakistan.

But where has all that landed Khan, his party and Pakistan as a nation?

Khan is widely perceived as the military establishment’s favourite against Nawaz Sharif. But military brass does not seem to enjoy his irresponsible and irrepressible ways. It withdrew its hands when Khan’s siege of Parliament went on for weeks, put the whole system at risk and earned the country ridicule.

See what Cyril Almeida, Pakistan’s prominent political analyst has to say in Dawn, on Sunday, February 18: he calls him “The Zero Man.”

“There’s nothing really — nothing new, significant or potentially lasting — that Imran has added to politics here,” he writes.

“It’s frustrating because of how far he’s come. From a party of one he’s dragged the PTI all the way to becoming the second largest party in the country. Even now, he’s still got a realistic shot at power in a few months.”

The PTI has also not done great things.

Almeida says: “But there’s nothing. Nothing durable that the PTI has contributed, by design or accident, to the national game. PTI groupies harp on about the anti-corruption stuff, but it’s mostly more of the same.”

Of Imran’s passion and political campaign against corruption, he says, “Sure, Imran has made anti-corruption his signature message, but by narrowly focusing on Nawaz, and occasionally Zardari, he hasn’t moved the needle on systemic corruption. ‘My opponent is corrupt’ isn’t exactly a novel political message.

“…for all the noise Imran has made, for all the votes he’s won, for all the disruption he’s caused, he’s managed to achieve virtually nothing.

“He doesn’t seem to know how to win nor has he forced, directly or indirectly, deliberately or unwittingly, positive change in anyone else or the system itself.”

So much for Imran Khan whose party has messed up the governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.. but he wants power at the national level. (Ends)
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