For the past one month, Imran Khan has been spending several hours a day on top of a container in the heart of Islamabad, demanding that the elected government must resign (because he says so) and pave the way for him to become prime minister and finally create the Pakistan that was dreamt of by Iqbal and that will be run according to the model of the State of Medina. (I am not kidding, he regularly evokes both Allama Iqbal and the model state of Medina and seems to be seriously impressed by both). Unfortunately, his sincere admiraition is not matched by any detailed knowledge of either Allama Iqbal or the state of Medina. This causes problems when someone who knows a bit about either of them shows up to bully him…poor IK has to cave in. Very fast.
This is Imran Khan promising that in his new Pakistan, “the best will be appointed on merit” and he has just heard that Atif Mian, a Pakistani economist at Princeton is among the top 25 economists in the world, so Atif Mian will be his finance minister:
Atif Mian is apparently an Ahmedi.
Why can Imran Khan not stand up to the Jamat e Islami or Hamid Gul or anyone with any Islamist credentials?
1. Imran Khan’s opinion of Iqbal and Islam is almost entirely based on what he learned in Pak studies and Islamiyat classes in Aitchison college Lahore. His knowledge of both may have progressed a little beyond that level …though only a little in the case of Iqbal: he still struggles to recite even one verse of Iqbal from memory..in fact, he tries the same verse repeatedly and has difficulty with it:
Sabaq Phir Parh Sadaqat Ka, Adalat Ka, Shujaat Ka
Liya Jaye Ga Tujh Se Kaam Dunya Ki Imamat Ka (recite again the lesson of truth, of justice, of valor/ for you will asked again to lead the world)
OK, he may have difficulty reciting the verse, but he seems to genuinely believe in it. Maybe he is just one of those otherwise smart people who are not good with memorizing poetry, but there are other problems…
2. Based on what he learned in 6th grade (I know, because I learned the same things), he really believes there is an Islamic model, that model is perfect, that model was best understood and explained by Iqbal, and he can put it into practice if people will only make him prime minister. All the links in this chain are controversial, but let us assume that the first three are correct, is the fourth one also correct?
3. Unfortunately, no. Because even if the first three are true (An Islamic model exists, it is perfect, it is best explained by Iqbal), the fourth can only work if IK knows the first three links in some detail and is so smart and capable (in the sense of being able to do X) that he can maneuver past all the people who have bad versions of the model or who don’t want the model because they are evil or whatever, and put his vision (which is, of course, the correct vision) into practice. On current evidence, what would make you believe that? In hundreds of speeches he has never moved beyond the vaguest and most general bromides (“true Islam will provide justice to all”), what would make anyone think he actually has something more profound hidden somewhere? The Atif Mian flap is not just an example of IK withdrawing from a position double-quick once some bigot shows up to challenge him, it is also a good example of how his mind works. He read somewhere that Atif Mian is a famous economist and he is a Pakistani. Without knowing anything more about Atif Mian, the people who nominated him as a top economist or even about ecomonics, he jumped all in and decided someone like Atif Mian should be his finance minister?
He has been asked before about the topic of laws discriminating against Ahmedis. And he has made some encouraging noises (though even he knows enough to be stick to vagueness in this case)
Even if he has some Western/Modern/Secular liberal instincts, it is clear that he is unable to stand up for that particular vision of justice the moment someone shows up with Islamist credentials and bullies him to retract…
Quick rough translation (not every word is translated): I want to condemn this propaganda about me and my position about Qadianis (notice that he takes care to use the term Qadiani, not Ahmedi). This is propaganda by those who see their political death coming. I am a Muslim. I have read the Quran (uses the feminine gender for the Quran repeatedly; his knowledge of Urdu is as shaky as his knowledge of Islam and Iqbal). I believe in the Quran. Whoever does not accept our beloved prophet as the final prophet is not a Muslim. So for someone to say that PTI will make some change in the 1973 constitution about laws relating to Qadianis after coming into power, this is a lie and it is propaganda. People who are giving fatwas about me without giving me a hearing are not being just. I am not a two-faced person. Wikileaks has said that I am the only politician in Pakistan who says the same thing behind closed doors as he does in public….this is my faith. This is the faith by which i live. “we follow Allah and we follow no one else”. This is challenging my faith. By which I live my life.
Its not going to end well.
He was doing such good work with his hospital and his university. Another good man lost to Pakstudies and Islamiyat….