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Has Imran Khan Lost His Way? – OpEd

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Earlier, Imran Khan captained the Pakistan cricket team with considerable distinction and lifted the reputation of the team to new heights. Later on, he took steps to construct a cancer hospital in Pakistan. Both these activities created high expectations about his leadership qualities and humaneness. Certainly, many Pakistanis held him in high esteem.

Later on, he jumped into politics in Pakistan and slowly built his party, promising people that his party would ensure corruption free government and provide clean and healthy administration. Many people trusted Imran Khan due to two reasons. One is that his past track record in his chosen activities has been excellent.

Secondly, most of the Pakistan politicians were facing charges of corruption and nepotism and were building up family hierarchy in government. In such situation, many people thought that Imran Khan could provide a change from the frustrating state of affairs. Even his critics gave him the benefit of doubt. Imran Khan won the election as expected and became the Prime Minister. Though there are unverified criticisms that Imran Khan’s success in the election was facilitated by the support of Pakistan army, one can dismiss such criticism , as the ground realities in Pakistan politics favoured Imran Khan.

However, Imran Khan now may be realizing that leading a country of millions of people is much different from leading a cricket team in a test match and managing the opposition team. In cricket match , the captain needs killing spirit and capability to take spot decisions. However, leading a country needs different kind of strategies and perspectives , with long term outlook and robust knowledge of economics, politics and world affairs.

When Imran Khan assumed position of Prime Minister , he had extremely challenging conditions to tackle and overcome. The economy of Pakistan is confronted with near bankruptcy conditions. For the several decades, Pakistan army has been breathing down the neck of the government, often preventing or dictating decisions. Several Prime Ministers in Pakistan have faced such situation and Imran Khan is no exception. Thirdly, the religious extremists, some of whom have turned themselves to be terrorists, have gained strong foot hold in Pakistan politics and are now so well entrenched that it is an herculean task to challenge them effectively. Finally, in the past years, Pakistan has got itself exposed to China’s influence in such a big way and now, Pakistan has driven itself to a situation where, due to huge debts incurred from China and infrastructure projects being built with Chinese collaboration in several ways, Pakistan has to necessarily keep China in good humour. The situation is such , where some people suspect that Pakistan has already become an extended territory of China for all practical purposes.

Given such challenges, Imran Khan has to exhibit courage of conviction , take the people of Pakistan into confidence and move on in a way, that can lift Pakistan out of the present pathetic conditions. In the last several months, Imran Khan has not exhibited such attributes in any convincing way. Though Imran Khan claims that he is leading a new Pakistan, there is no indication that it is happening and he appears to be moving in the beaten track with regard to several aspects.

What is required is that Imran Khan should develop long term vision, where there would be no scope for appeasement politics or playing to the gallery.

In the earlier few decades, Pakistan was excessively dependent on USA for it’s financial support. Now, this dependence has shifted to China. Time alone will say whether such shift will do good to the Pakistan in the long run or lead to irreversible harm.

Today, USA expects Pakistan to help USA in getting rid of the Afghan problem in a respectable way and look forward to Pakistan support. However, it is doubtful whether China would allow Pakistan to help USA and whether army and extremists would allow Imran Khan to heed to the US request. In this respect, he appears to be helpless and is facing a big dilemma.

Of the many moves of Imran Khan after becoming Prime Minister , one recent move to confront India with regard to Kashmir issue clearly raises doubts about his vision and strategies. It is important both for India and Pakistan that they have to live in peace and harmony and device ways to do so. This is the only way for Imran Khan to prevent Pakistan from brink of financial collapse that it is facing today.

Recently, when Indian government integrated the Kashmir territory under its governance with rest of India by change of laws, Imran Khan raised hue and cry. He has not been realistic enough to understand that India has not crossed the line of control with Pakistan but only made some internal changes. Just as Pakistan says that Kashmir territory under it’s governance is an internal issue of Pakistan , Indian government says that Kashmir territory under it’s governance is India’s internal issue . Why should Imran Khan object to this ?

Imran Khan has raised the pitch to such a level that he talks of possible nuclear war between India and Pakistan and says that he would raise the issue in every international forum. Further, he went to the ridiculous level to ask the Pakistan citizens to demonstrate in Pakistan against India’s move in Kashmir , as if will have any impact.

Many observers now suspect whether Imran Khan is talking so tough about India’s recent move in Kashmir to whip up mass hysteria against India, to divert the attention of the Pakistan people from many problems faced by Pakistan and perhaps, to conceal his inability to tackle them. Is Imran Khan trying to keep in good humour the religious extremists and terrorists, as well as army to buy peace with them and to protect his position as Prime Minister of Pakistan?

While Imran Khan built great reputation for himself by leading Pakistan cricket team gloriously earlier and built his image for humaneness by constructing cancer hospital, the achievements that one make in the final phase of career is what matters.

Imran Khan appears to have let go a great opportunity given to him as Prime Minister of Pakistan by not focusing solely on constructive programmes and building good will every where. Instead, by resorting to the familiar option available to any politician to play for the gallery. Imran Khan seems to have lost his way.



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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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