- For depicting the desi liberals in their true light
Imran Khan, now Prime Minister Khan, has taken oath of his new office. Winning the ultimate prize after being ridiculed, written-off, and character assassinated for over two decades has been a study in tenacity and single-minded resolve, although I wouldn’t advise any impressionable youth to take Khan’s route unless he has one or two screws loose somewhere.
Khan’s PTI displacing the deeply entrenched PML-N in Punjab; storming the MQM Karachi citadel in some style; retaining the KPK assembly, this time with a two-thirds majority; and then the small matter of Khan winning five out of five National Assembly seats (in no less than three of our four provinces as well as the federal capital territory – a new record) may be remarkable feats; but such ups and downs are a part of politics. Khan’s own political career is testimony to it: PTI had the distinction of losing all 140 odd seats in 1997, including the nine Khan personally contested. What has been more remarkable (and in my opinion irreversible) is the way Khan has transformed politics in the country by making it fashionable among the youth, the women, and the educated folk; and the way he has made most households truly democratic in that family members are openly differing in their political views instead of ‘thinking’ and voting en bloc.
People are talking about what Khan will be able to deliver as prime minister. That’s a million-dollar question, but one that can in no way take away anything from what he has already achieved for his people. While much has been written about him and much more will doubtless be written, there are some things about Khan that have been less appreciated – less documented at any rate. This, despite the constant spotlight on him and the kind of star status he enjoys that makes seemingly trivial events memorable ones. (The way the public reacted to his borrowing a waistcoat from a photographer was a very good example of this.) I would like to focus today on one such achievement of Khan: the pathetic state he has reduced the desi liberals to.
The way Khan has unmasked the desi liberals as complete charlatans has been nothing short of spectacular. (To be more precise, it’s the ‘liberals’ who – in their undying hatred for Khan – have felt obligated to remove their masks themselves.) Khan’s campaign against dynastic politics, against corruption, against using sexual ‘moralities’ to damage political opponents, should have been the liberals’ campaign. Again, Khan’s struggle for distinction between private and public lives of individuals, and for inviolability of their private lives should have been the liberals’ struggle. Yet, such was the liberal hatred for Khan that they felt compelled to side against him on these issues, compromising on their own core principles. And in their crusade against Khan, everything was fair game. If it took siding with the Ayesha Gulalais and the Hanif Abbasis, so be it. If it took believing and propagating everything Reham Khan claimed about Khan’s private life, so be it. If it took defending the Sharif dynasty against corruption charges (under the guise of ‘sanctity of vote’ and ‘civilian supremacy’), so be it. If it meant cheering for goons who made digs at the women participants in PTI gatherings, so be it.
You have doubtless heard these, and more. Not being content merely as analysts, some liberals have also been doubling as part-time Nostradamasus: Imran Khan would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history
Most of the liberals these last few years have been posing as political commentators, masquerading their biases and desires as political analyses. Khan had lost his charm and the public appeal he had won in October 2011, we were told (incidentally, this public appeal was never acknowledged in 2011); the dharna politics had disillusioned even the most enthusiastic PTI followers; Khan didn’t know the ABC of politics; Khan was too transparent to be a politician. Khan got played by this or that politician. You have doubtless heard these, and more. Not being content merely as analysts, some liberals have also been doubling as part-time Nostradamasus: Imran Khan would soon be consigned to the dustbin of history; Khan will never become prime minister; If Khan becomes prime minister, I will eat this table, etc.
First Imran Khan was going to be humiliated in the 2018 elections (if our fortune-tellers were to be believed). When that didn’t happen, he was going to struggle to form a government in the center and in the Punjab. That didn’t happen either. Now the latest ‘prediction’ is that Khan will not be able to run the government. The goal post is therefore constantly on the move. As for the odds of being embarrassed when all previous predictions had been proved wrong – or at the very least calling a moratorium on future ‘predictions’ for a year, say – not a snowflake’s chance in hell!
Now that the dust has settled and no amount of compromising on liberal values has prevented Khan from becoming prime minister, were those compromises worth it? I think not, but that is a judgment call for the liberals to make. Be that as it may, one can never thank Imran Khan enough for showing the desi liberals for what they truly are.