‘The name is Imran. Imran Khan’

The recent claim by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that PTI chief Imran Khan was using proxies to call for the assassination of COAS Gen Asim Munir has left me a little confused. Is Mian Shehbaz trying to help Imran in his campaign to revive the Pakistani film industry? or is he setting himself up as a replacement, at least as far as scriptwriting goes?

Because the claim seems about as real as the plot of a James Bond movie. Those who might remember the 1970s might remember the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond was being played by Roger Moore, but for many of us the highlight of the movie was Jaws, the villain played by a Russian giant with the stainless steel teeth Soviet dentistry made its hallmark. Bond overcame him finally by electrocuting him through those teeth. The role was created by Richard Jiel, a seven-foot-two actor who suffered from acromegaly, a condition in which the pituitary gland releases excess growth hormone.

Now Kiel has passed away a decade ago, so he presumably cannot hold a press conference abjuring the PTI and all its works, especially the May 9 protests, and announcing either his abandonment of all politics or his joining the Istehkam Pakistan Party. But otherwise there’s nothing more Bond-like than the story of the planned assassination.

Mean-minded opponents, jealous of Imran’s handsomeness, have spewed rubbish about him and certain film actresses. That is to turn a blind eye to his efforts for the revival of the Pakistani film industry. Since his ouster from office last April, he has redoubled his efforts, and has been busy producing ever more refined scripts for the industry. Like every great artist, he has been using his personal experiences  and transforming them into art.

From the simple assassination attempt, he moved to ever more complex attempts, to the point where he says that on a helicopter flight in KP, not only did someone tamper with the fuel supply, but someone tried to take out the chopper with a missile. Does anyone remember the skiing chase that opens For Your Eyes Only? (Another Roger Moore starrer, by the way). If Imran had ever gone on the slopes at Mallam Jabba, he would have claimed that Nawaz Sharif had been behind him trying to kill him, and only his incredible skiing skills enabled to escape with his life, just as he avoided being poisoned by the rare Asiatic poison the Sharif use to induce heart attacks in people they want offed, but with no trace of the poison left.

Perhaps it’s good that he couldn’t make the claim, because Nawaz Sharif can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone shoot and ski at the same time. Imran probably couldn’t grasp that, because he is the intellectual whose discussions of quantum physics with Usman Buzdar revolutionised the world. He can walk and chew gum at the same time, but he is also a winter triathlete, and can shoot, ski and run cross-country as well. That’s why he escaped the rocket in KP.

Of course, Pakistan is behind advanced countries like Uzbekistan, which had a democratic election, in which incumbent Shevket Mirziyoyev got a third term with 87.5 percent of the vote. There was first a constitutional amendment made letting him seek the new seven-year term, which received 90.6 percent of the vote. Imran has got that sort of popular support, and only needs a chance to show how he can break those records. I mean, Babar was an Uzbek, so it’s not that we can’t learn from Mirziyoyev. True, he’s only 65, and thus a mere stripling in front of Imran, who is 71, and thus a challenger for the youth vote, but you can’t have everything, can you?

In the old days, Mirziyoyev would probably have qualified as a Bond villain, because of the Soviet connection, but these days, it’s the Turkic connection that counts. Not for Bond movies, but diplomacy. And as we know, Imran is the best diplomat of them all.

The big difference is that Shehbaz is just doing a script, but Imran wants to star. Wait for him to say “The name is Imran. Imran Khan.” And specify that he takes his lassi shaken, not stirred.



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