A star has arisen

“The ossified political parties are out of sync with the spirit and essence of times and are fast becoming irrelevant. There is a vacuum awaiting a star who has both integrity and credibility. Destiny is beckoning Imran, a leader of great integrity and credibility, a whirlwind of a leader, harbinger of change, a man of high energy level and unbounded vitality. More and more people are looking up to him to deliver shock therapy to the corrupt, encrusted, two-party duopoly running the show in Pakistan. Today, he alone has that passion burning within him that will unleash people power and set the nation alight? He is, mark my words, destined to change the political landscape of Pakistan.” 
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 JUGGERNAUT, AN INVISIBLE FORCE, AND A BLOODLESS VICTORY MACHINE

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by Roedad Khan

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I am no clairvoyant and don’t claim to possess the faculty of perceiving things and events in the future but prior to Imran Khan’s historic meeting in Lahore on the green fields of Minar-e-Pakistan, this is what I wrote in this column:

“The ossified political parties are out of sync with the spirit and essence of times and are fast becoming irrelevant. There is a vacuum awaiting a star who has both integrity and credibility. Destiny is beckoning Imran, a leader of great integrity and credibility, a whirlwind of a leader, harbinger of change, a man of high energy level and unbounded vitality. More and more people are looking up to him to deliver shock therapy to the corrupt, encrusted, two-party duopoly running the show in Pakistan. Today, he alone has that passion burning within him that will unleash people power and set the nation alight? He is, mark my words, destined to change the political landscape of Pakistan.” 

The massive turnout stunned friends and foes alike. On that day, the people, as if in a sudden rush of understanding the power of their numbers, gravitated towards Minar-e-Pakistan. We saw wave after wave of singing, shouting men and women, mostly young, heading for Iqbal Park. You could not be faulted for believing that this was a juggernaut, an invisible force, a bloodless victory machine. No, not a machine, but an army of unarmed citizens. It was not a river. It was not a flood. It was a tsunami.

The mood among the people verged on ecstasy. The atmosphere was electric. It was a historic turning point in the politics of Pakistan. Imran Khan had arrived.

I subscribe to the hero theory of history that great men do make a difference. In the history of the world those who have won have always been those who challenged the unchallengeable at the right time and at the right place. “If the individual and the situation meet,” Willy Brandt told Oriana Fallaci, “then the machinery is set off by which history takes one direction instead of another.” The individual and the situation met at the Minar-e-Pakistan on October 30 with unpredictable consequences.

The darkest hour is just before the dawn and as generally happens in history, it is at the darkest hour that a bright star arises when you had almost given up hope. The hour has found the man who has the will and the power to restore the Pakistan dream. Today Imran embodies the nation’s romantic dream of itself. It seems that the last 15 years or so he spent in the political wilderness had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. A window of hope has opened for Pakistan.

“People confuse two types of politics,” Imran told The New York Times. “One is the politics of movement. The other is traditional power-based politics. Tehreek-e-Insaf is never going to win the traditional way.”

Imran is the only leader with the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe political and economic predicament. At long last, people have found a leader who will light a candle in the gloom of our morale; who has a passion burning within him that will set our nation alight; who will be the standard-bearer of the disenchanted; who can give voice to our humiliation; who places country above self; who restores the process of national revival; who gives the country a new agenda, one that does not replace once set of corrupt leaders by another; who offers the genuine hope of a new order to take us into a new millennium; who stitches the country back together; whose heart is in the right place; whose hands are clean; who restores the rule of law; and who protects the citizen’s honour, person and property; a crusader against high-level corruption, who will purge the country of all corrupt elements.

Imran Khan has been blighted with the terrible curse of forever being under the  microscope; be it his unsuccessful marriage to Jemima Goldsmith or the numerous women he is rumoured to have dated, talk show hosts and political rivals can’t get enough of his ‘shenanigans’, and take every opportunity to use them as proof against why his future as a politician is doomed. BUT unlike many politicians who suddenly rise like phoenix from the ashes of Pakistan’s cremated dignity, Khan’s contributions to our country are worthy of note. Shaukat Khanum Cancer Memorial is one magnanimous contribution that has changed the lives of thousands of cancer patients for over a decade by providing financial assistance to those battling the fatal illness. In a country where there is still no national registry for cancer, and where funds for deploying 3,000 security guards in Karachi seem more important than public health support, this hospital is nothing but a miracle.

Today all the symptoms which one had ever met within history previous to great changes and revolutions exist in Pakistan. The country appears to be adrift. Pakistan is sliding into anarchy. One of the earliest and most spectacular acts of the great uprising in Paris in July 1789 was to pursue the economic vampires who were widely rumored to have secreted away their booty. “Tremble, you who sucked the blood of poor unhappy wretches,” warned Marat. “These blood suckers either give an account of their larceny and restore to the nation what they have stolen or else, be delivered to the blade of law.” This will be one of Imran’s top priorities.

If people want a fundamental change, they will first have to vote with their bodies like the Arabs and keep voting in the streets. A corrupt regime like this, which is defying the Supreme Court, can only be brought down or changed if enough people vote in the streets. This is what the regime fears most, because it either has to shoot its people or quit.

The idea that you can just hold elections, fair or unfair, while everything remains colonial, feudal and medieval, means you won’t get democracy but some perversion of it as we have today in this country. Elections are necessary but not sufficient. Elections alone do not make a democracy. Creating a democracy requires a free and independent country (which Pakistan is not today), an inviolable constitution, sustained commitment to develop all the necessary elements: a transparent executive accountable to parliament, a powerful and competent legislature answerable to the electorate, a strong, independent judiciary, and a free and independent media. To assume that vote alone will automatically bring about a democratic metamorphosis would be to condemn Pakistan to a repeat of the cycle seen so often in our history: a short-lived period of corrupt, civilian rule, a descent into chaos and then army intervention.

Imran must, therefore, resist the temptation of participating in the General Election if it is held under the present corrupt rulers. Election held under Zardari and his cronies will be neither free, nor fair, nor impartial. The result will be a foregone conclusion. The present corrupt rulers must be dislodged from power before elections are held. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did exactly that. He led a virulent campaign against Ayub and hounded him out before participating in Election 70, the first free, fair and impartial election held in Pakistan.

The only antidote to the debilitating situation we find ourselves in is to throw out this corrupt government and give the people a chance to elect their representatives with a fresh mandate. Everybody knows this is the only effective answer. Imran Khan knows he is on a winning streak, but he also knows that there are major battles to be fought and won. The need for continued show of popular backing is, therefore, as urgent as before. The only way to ensure victory is to wield the weapon which has brought the anti-Zardari movement thus far: massive demonstrations, rallies and marches as evidence of popular backing. Pakistan awaits the revolution that will overturn the status quo.

The writer is a former federal secretary. Email: roedad@comsats.net.pk

Source, Title Image, Image SKMH

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