By Syed Kamran Hashmi
In American politics, if there is anyone who can match the popularity of Imam Khan, his omnipresence in the media and the simplistic understanding of complex international issues, it can be no other than Sarah Palin
“I am not a quadro-pedal animal; I love my country Pakistan and have never been accused of financial corruption in my whole life.”
We can consider the above statement as my preemptive clarification from the anticipated verbal assault by the members of a political party and to protect myself, at least partially, from the vicious language of the ‘neocons’ of Pakistani politics.
I seek further security by admitting publicly that I like the Quaid Imam Khan (this is not a typo). I admire his hard work in building the only cancer hospital in Pakistan and his efforts to improve the quality of education in Mianwali through Namal College. I am also a great fan of his cricket; his successful career as a captain and am personally grateful to him for bringing the Cricket World Cup of 1992 to our beloved country. Yet I am a Muslim and do not believe in a cult. (I know I am in deep trouble now for these words.)
According to the New Oxford American dictionary, a cult is defined as “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object” and Imam Khan may have built a similar following in Pakistan through Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).
In American politics, if there is anyone who can match the popularity of Imam Khan, his omnipresence in the media and the simplistic understanding of complex international issues, it can be no other than Sarah Palin — the vice presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the 2008 elections. Similarly, his fans can be compared only with the current Tea Party activists of the Republican Party in the US.
Like Imam Khan, Sarah Palin is very popular at the grassroots level. She also has mastered some of the catch phrases like “corruption” and has a blind following in the country. She too has authored a couple of books and represents the hardcore rightist political view. In addition, both of them believe that religion should guide political decision-making.
The similarities between the Tea Party activists and the PTI are even more striking; both of them are extremely vocal; they are equally unreasonable and comparably ‘ill-logical’. (The PTI a little more than the Tea Party.) Contempt for the current administrations is also evident in their discourse and they are dissatisfied with every governmental policy. It can range from the new healthcare law in the USA to the 20th constitutional amendment in Pakistan.
Now let us try to discuss the quality of being ‘un-reason-able’ with the PTI supporter. It figuratively means “without any reason” or “I will find out later”. We know that the ‘Quaid’ has flip-flopped many times about his party’s decision to participate in the elections, which simply is an un-reason-able political strategy since it changes every week, if not sooner. There are numerous versions of its rationality and includes the restoration of the judges and the PPP-General Musharraf deal, aka the NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance). It also involves the American influence, the international powers and obviously the deceit of Mian Nawaz Sharif, but has concluded lately with the detection of fraudulent voter lists in 2011.
The vilifications of political opponents or personal attacks are a logical fallacy and are known as argumentum ad hominem. The PTI supporters use this ‘ill-logical’ approach frequently when they are confronted with difficult questions. The reason for their opposition to the 20th constitutional amendment is therefore immediately declared as “a deal” between the two corrupt parties. Then they rush to discuss the alleged corruption of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari; their economic mismanagement; the Transparency International survey and the recent Gallup poll results — all in one second. Afterwards, they steer the conversation towards the ‘clean’ record of Imran Khan and the success of Shaukat Khanum Hospital and the Namal College project. Their response is similar when inquired about the evaporation of their loud opposition to the drone attacks and the terrorism charges against MQM.
After the above given explanations, if anyone has still not adopted the path of redemption and continues to be sceptical about the ‘divine’ rhetoric of the party, he enters the last phase of the discussion — an immensely emotional stage. Incidentally, I have lost a couple of friends to that phase. This is the climax and the point of no return. The temperature has reached boiling point now; the supporters have already called all the other politicians dirty names; have accused them of financial corruption, money laundering and have passionately referred to the Swiss cases but still have not received the loud applause that they await. Their mind is now racing, the tools of rationality are running out and they still feel the urge to enlighten the inquirer. In these moments, they terminate the dialogue abruptly and generally decide to turn the table upside down (literally). They almost always find a new target and that is the sceptic himself. Initially, their remarks are indirect and implied, but it gets direct, dirty and indecent very rapidly. They curse him and accuse him profusely of all the things that I have denied in the beginning of this column.
P.S. After losing a few close friends and being accused of ‘blasphemy’, I have recently decided to support Imran Khan completely — the revolutionary who introduced verbal assault in Pakistani politics as his sole argument. Even if it demands of me to leave behind the faith of my ancestors and join the new one — the PTI
The writer is a freelance columnist residing in the US
Source: The Daily Times, Lahore