Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
A few months ago, no one could escape Pakistani cricket legend and aspiring political leader Imran Khan (IK) as he traversed the country holding successful rallies in big cities and remote villages. Following his every move was a domestic and international press that waxed rhapsodic over the impending IK-led revolution. This opera culminated in a Khan-led anti-drone march to Pakistan’s Waziristan region in the shadow of a vacillating response by the Taliban.
Since then, IK and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have been uncharacteristically quiet and the only comments that have come from Khan have been related to Pakistan’s cricket tour of India; this, by the way, makes sense because for all his political weaknesses, IK is a brilliant cricketing mind. However, his absence from the political arena does make one wonder about Khan’s plans and his intentions regarding the 2013 elections. This silence is also vexing because Khan’s profile had been on an upswing with a number of political stalwarts leaving their parties and joining PTI.
Integrating these old school warhorses into PTI could explain Khan’s disappearance as he likely has his hands full assimilating professional politicians – and their associated baggage – into a party that is proud of its lack political experience. IK may also be concerned about how this expansion will influence his supporters who, for justifiable reasons, are wary of career politicians and concerned about how these corruptive influences may change PTI.
While formidable, these are just some of the challenges facing IK. PTI also faces the significant problem of not presenting any concrete policies to resolve the myriad of problems facing Pakistan. While the party’s growing popularity is a testament to the terrible state of the country’s political structure, in order to translate this new-found political influence into actual parliamentary seats, PTI needs to propose some substantive policies, and developing them takes time and focus.
It’s clear, therefore, that IK faces a number of conflicting pressures and understands the importance of his next step. He is also likely aware of the difficulty of a new party generating votes in a system and country as corrupt as Pakistan. On a positive note, Khan’s popularity and reputation as an honest and straightforward individual remains unvarnished and history shows that he has successfully faced down a number of near-impossible challenges. However, given the ticking clock and Khan’s notorious impatience, this challenge may be a googly that even the great Lion of Lahore may be unable to vanquish.