Thursday, November 17, 2011

Imran Khan Claims Inspiration From Allama Iqbal

Rooh-e-Sultani Rahe Baqi To Phir Kya Iztarab
Hai Magar Kya Uss Yahoodi Ki Shararat Ka Jawab?

(No cause of anxiety then, if the spirit of imperialism be preserved
But what’s the answer to the mischief of that wise Jew)

Woh Kaleem Be-Tajalli, Woh Maseeh Be-Saleeb
Neest Peghambar Wa Lekin Dar Baghal Darad Kitab

(That Moses without light, that cross-less Jesus
Not a prophet, but with a book under his arm)

Iss Se Barh Kar Aur Kya Ho Ga Tabiat Ka Fasad
Torh Di Bandon Ne Aaqaon Ke Khaimon Ki Tanab!

(For what could be more dangerous than this
That the serfs uproot the tents of their masters)

Muhammad Iqbal (Urdu: محمد اقبال) (November 9, 1877 – April 21, 1938)

Speaking at the recent launch of his book “Pakistan: A Personal History”, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan referred to Allama Iqbal as the ideological father of the nation, and added that “Iqbal’s teachings have inspired me to a great extent”. In the book, Imran calls Islam a “comprehensive blueprint for how Muslims should live in accordance with the highest ideals and best practices of Islam.”




Analyzing Imran Khan's comments, Indian author and journalist Pankaj Mishra says that Iqbal felt "democracy and capitalism had empowered a privileged elite in the name of the people". It seems to me that "Occupy Wall Street" protesters also appear to be inspired by Iqbal's thoughts about the extraordinary power of the elite in democracy and capitalism as practiced in the West.

In a recent Businessweek piece titled "Islam Offers a Third Way in Pakistan and Tunisia", Mishra compares Imran Khan with the "democratic Islamist" Tunisian leader Rashid Ghannouchi.

Here are selected excerpts from Mishra's article:

"Confronted with extreme inequality and corrupt Westernized elites, many Muslim thinkers had already begun to present Islam as a guarantee of social justice. Setting up the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, Hassan al-Banna advocated the redistribution of wealth, and a crackdown on venal politicians and businessmen.

Like al-Banna, Iqbal believed that the Prophet had transmitted the blueprint for a just society centuries before Marx -- “the wise Jew” -- worked it out in the British Museum. And he remained confident that after the ruling elites of capitalism and socialism had lost credibility, “the message of the Prophet might appear again.”

Iqbal considered the idea of a classless society, in which the rich were custodians rather than owners of property, to be morally superior to socialism as well as capitalism:

Protector of women’s honor, tester of men A message of death for all sorts of slavery Undivided amongst kings and beggars Cleans the wealth of all its filth Makes the rich the custodians of riches What could be greater than this revolution? Not to kings but to God belongs the land.

I have been thinking of Iqbal’s lines in recent weeks as the Islamist democrats of Rashid Ghannouchi’s Ennahdha party triumphed in Tunisia’s first free elections in years, and the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan -- declared by Pew Research Center to be the most popular political figure in Pakistan -- staged a huge rally in Lahore, staking his first serious claim to power."

"Like many leaders and thinkers in Islamic countries, both traveled through secular ideologies and lifestyles -- Ghannouchi as a Nasserite socialist, Khan as a denizen of London’s social scene -- before arriving at a worldview grounded in Islam.

More importantly, their respective countries have stumbled through many failed postcolonial experiments with Western political and economic systems, resulting in wayward elected governments and uneven economic development, before arriving at their current rendezvous with political Islam.

It may seem more understandable that a majority of Tunisians, who have suffered from a secular and kleptocratic despotism, want to experiment with a more Islamic polity. But why would Pakistanis, who felt the coercive power of an Islamic state for almost a decade under the military dictatorship of Mohammad Zia Ul-Haq, want to do the same?

Perhaps because -- and this is not sufficiently recognized -- every generation brings to political life its own ideas, hopes and illusions. Too young to remember Zia’s regime, many Pakistanis invest their faith in the born-again Khan out of disgust with the modernizing military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who was president from 2001 to 2008, and interchangeable civilian politicians Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who all share an appalling record of corruption and ineptitude. (Pakistanis are also thrilled by Khan’s unambiguous denunciations of the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone attacks in their country.)

Whether liberal and secular elites like it or not, there are a large number of socially conservative Muslims who wish to see the ethical principles of Islam play a more active role in public life. The mind-numbing division between “moderates” and “extremists” that often passes for profound understanding of Islamic societies in the West simply fails to account for this invisible majority of Muslims, who are unlikely to plump for secular liberalism either now or in the near future.

For many nationalist and reflexively conservative Pakistanis, Imran Khan’s belief that “if we follow Iqbal’s teaching, we can reverse the growing gap between Westernized rich and traditional poor that helps fuel fundamentalism” is not the empty rhetoric it may sound to a Westernized Pakistani."


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Imran Khan's Social Media Campaign

An Indian's View of Jinnah, Iqbal and Pakistan

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

Clash of Ideas in Islam

Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

Imran to Obama: Leave Afghanistan

Occupy Wall Street

Iqbal's Poetry

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

idealism is inversely proportional to the distance from the ground situation.

Capitlism exists because itt is a form of organization which is closest to human psyche.

It is in the nature of men to work hard aand innovate if his efforts are rewarded.

socialism failed for the same reason.'from each according to his ability to each according to his need' is a noble idea but when push comes to shove 99% of people won't sacrifice their luxuries for another persons basic needs.Sad but that's just how things are.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Capitlism exists because itt is a form of organization which is closest to human psyche....when push comes to shove 99% of people won't sacrifice their luxuries for another persons basic needs.Sad but that's just how things are."

Enlightened self-interest is also part of human psyche....a concept British economist John Maynard Keynes understood well as a way to save capitalism from capitalists.

As the modern system of capitalism faces the most serious challenge of its existence since Adam Smith, the name of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is being regularly invoked by economists, politicians, bankers, and the media. And with good reason. Born in Cambridge, England, in 1883, the year Karl Marx died, Keynes probably saved capitalism from itself and kept Communists at bay. Keynesian Economics advocates the use of government monetary and fiscal policy to maintain full employment with low inflation.

Keynes described Capitalism in the following words: "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

A well-known anti-Semite, Keynes once said, "It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains." As in the past financial crises, powerful Jews on Wall Street and in Washington are being held responsible by many as the culprits of the current economic collapse.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/02/will-capitalism-survive.html

I. KAMAL said...

Philosophy aside, Imran Khan's Movement is about gaining the freedom which never came to Pakistan after the British left the sub-continent. The white sahibs were replaced by the brown sahibs, and it was business as usual. The sardars, jagirdars and waderas who had been allowed to treat their tenants like dirt as long as they remained loyal to the King Emperor, were left untouched.

In this respect, Parvez Musharraf's introduction of the Nazim system was a brilliant and effective means of bringing democracy to the grassroots - a system which would provide a training ground for holders of public office, so that they could rise through the ranks, as they do in Western democracies through county councils, board of supervisors, etc. Eventually this would have put an end to the politics of patronage and proteges.

Hopefully, Imran Khan would restore power to the people, bring back the looted wealth, and introduce judicial reforms so that the plunderers and looters could be speedily punished.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on global protests showing rising disillusionment with democracies:

Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strike. Israel reels before the largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries.

Their complaints range from corruption to lack of affordable housing and joblessness, common grievances the world over. But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.

“Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless.”

Economics have been one driving force, with growing income inequality, high unemployment and recession-driven cuts in social spending breeding widespread malaise. Alienation runs especially deep in Europe, with boycotts and strikes that, in London and Athens, erupted into violence.

But even in India and Israel, where growth remains robust, protesters say they so distrust their country’s political class and its pandering to established interest groups that they feel only an assault on the system itself can bring about real change.

Young Israeli organizers repeatedly turned out gigantic crowds insisting that their political leaders, regardless of party, had been so thoroughly captured by security concerns, ultra-Orthodox groups and other special interests that they could no longer respond to the country’s middle class.

In the world’s largest democracy, Anna Hazare, an activist, starved himself publicly for 12 days until the Indian Parliament capitulated to some of his central demands on a proposed anticorruption measure to hold public officials accountable. “We elect the people’s representatives so they can solve our problems,” said Sarita Singh, 25, among the thousands who gathered each day at Ramlila Maidan, where monsoon rains turned the grounds to mud but protesters waved Indian flags and sang patriotic songs.

“But that is not actually happening. Corruption is ruling our country.”

Increasingly, citizens of all ages, but particularly the young, are rejecting conventional structures like parties and trade unions in favor of a less hierarchical, more participatory system modeled in many ways on the culture of the Web.

In that sense, the protest movements in democracies are not altogether unlike those that have rocked authoritarian governments this year, toppling longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Protesters have created their own political space online that is chilly, sometimes openly hostile, toward traditional institutions of the elite.

The critical mass of wiki and mapping tools, video and social networking sites, the communal news wire of Twitter and the ease of donations afforded by sites like PayPal makes coalitions of like-minded individuals instantly viable.

“You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”.......


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/world/as-scorn-for-vote-grows-protests-surge-around-globe.html?pagewanted=all

Anonymous said...

democracy is a terrible system till you look at all others-winston churchill

People here may be disillusioned because in their collective memory they have never lived under tyranny.

They consider it as natural as breathing air when they protest or abuse existing politicians in the public square.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an FT Op Ed by Francis Fukuyama on US "checks-and-balances" and paralysis:

..The problems of the US system are all too apparent when compared with the classic British Westminster system: parliamentary, with first-past-the-post voting, no federalism or decentralisation, and no written constitution or judicial review. Under such a system, governments are typically backed by a strong legislative majority. The present government’s coalition is highly unusual for the UK, which typically gives the leading party a strong parliamentary majority. A simple majority plus one in the House of Commons can make or overturn any law in the land, which is why it has sometimes been referred to as a democratic dictatorship.

The American system, by contrast, splits power between a president and a two-chamber Congress; devolves power to states and local government; and permits the courts to overturn legislation on constitutional grounds. The system is deliberately engineered to put obstacles in the way of decisive government, which in turn is the result of a political culture strongly suspicious of centralised power.

The advantage of the British system with its fewer opportunities to cast vetoes is clear when it comes to passing budgets. The budget is written by the chancellor of the exchequer, who as an executive agent makes the difficult trade-offs between spending and taxes. This budget is passed by parliament, with little modification, a week or two after the government introduces it.

In the American system, by contrast, the president announces a budget at the beginning of the fiscal cycle; it is more an aspirational document than a political reality. The US constitution firmly locates spending authority in Congress, and indeed all 535 members of Congress use their potential veto power to extract concessions. The budget that eventually emerges after months of interest group lobbying is the product not of a coherent government plan, but of horse-trading among individual legislators, who always find it easier to achieve consensus by exchanging spending increases for tax cuts. Hence the permanent bias towards deficits.

In addition to the checks and balances mandated by the constitution, Congress has added a host of further opportunities for legislators to use their veto power to blackmail the system, such as the anonymous holds that any of 100 senators may place on executive branch appointments. A particularly egregious example of this is taking place today. The Obama administration has wanted to appoint Michael McFaul ambassador to Russia, but the foreign relations committee has put off action indefinitely due to the objections of certain unnamed Republican senators. Mr McFaul – formerly a professor at Stanford (and also a longtime friend) – has been senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council for the past three years and is widely regarded even by the Republicans as well qualified for the job. Foreign Policy magazine has reported that one of the holds is due to a senator wanting the federal government to build a facility in his state. As a result, the US may not have an ambassador in place in Moscow next March as the Russians vote for a new president.


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d82776c6-14fd-11e1-a2a6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1eM2JVas3?ftcamp=crm/email/20111122/nbe/ExclusiveComment/product

Mateen said...

Tsnami of 'change' advances!!!

ZAFAR IQBAL WARRAICH JOINED PTI...

1. He was traitor musharraf's MINISTER of state for interior for 5 years.
2. Zafar Warraich ratified, supervised the massacre and carnage in LAL MASJID :'(
3. He was the head of Islamabad administration and police which dragged the CHIEF JUSTICE on the constitution avenue
4. It was under his watch that the 60 judges were house arrested...

Riaz Haq said...

Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi joins Imran Khan's PTI, reports Dawn:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ex-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi joined forces with cricketer-politician Imran Khan Sunday, becoming the most high-profile defector to his growing campaign to win the next general election.

Qureshi made the announcement at a rally led by Khan in the southern town of Ghotki, part of the broad hinterland in the southern province of Sindh and central province of Punjab where the former minister is considered powerful.

“I announce I am joining a movement, which is struggling to win justice for people,” Qureshi said of Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) which is fast emerging as a powerful player in the run-up to elections due early 2013.

Qureshi lost his position as cabinet minister in a February reshuffle. He was offered another portfolio, which he refused, and this month resigned as lawmaker representing the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

“Winds of change have now begun,” Qureshi told the rally attended by several thousand supporters 420 kilometres (260 miles) north of Karachi, Pakistan’s port city used by the US to ship supplies to landlocked Afghanistan.

“I am embarking on a new journey and from today onwards, Shah Mehmood is part of your team,” he told Khan to thunderous applause.

Qureshi fell out with President Asif Ali Zardari around the time of the reshuffle and says he withstood pressure to approve diplomatic immunity for a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January.

He used the rally to criticise Zardari, whose five-year mandate expires in 2013, a day after Pakistan was plunged into fresh crisis with the US over accusations that Nato air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

“They have indulged in loot and plunder,” he said. “The time has come to seek a fresh mandate from the people,” Qureshi added.

Khan, a staunch critic of the US alliance, condemned the Nato strike and demanded that Pakistan order all CIA agents to leave in protest.

“We should raise the issue at the UN Security Council because it was an attack on our country and soldiers,” he said.

“We need not bow before any one. The time has come to build a new Pakistan by introducing a new system reflecting will of the people.”


http://www.dawn.com/2011/11/27/qureshi-addresses-rally-at-ghotki.html

Najam said...

Opinions about Imran Khan are divided.I also do not like him much,particularly his arrogant manners and day dreaming ,and also the type of people joining his party.What sort of revolution he will bring through notorious people like Masood Sharif,Our Adamjee class fellow Jahangir Tareen ,from people who were with coward Musharraf and leftovers of PPP and Q league, is difficult to comprehend.

Are the people of Pakistan going to fall in another trap by establishment man,whose recent statements about Kashmir,about Islamic forces and about USA should alarm people of days ahead?

Riaz Haq said...

Najam: "What sort of revolution he will bring through notorious people like Masood Sharif"

Our neighbor India also has a lot of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats but they are still better off politically because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is Mr. Clean. I see Imran Khan as Mr. Clean for Pakistan, and his presence at the top will help improve the situation in Pakistan.

Siraj said...

Imran Khan was arrogant when he put Pakistan Cricket on winning streak and won the world cup and he was arrogant when he built the Shaukat Khanam.

He has been arrogant all along. He is still arrogant – this is clear from the way he addresses his political opponents. This is not a quality one would be proud of ! But an arrogant is better than a plunderer, a money sucker parasite and a dacoit.

Arrogant he is and womanizer he was but he is not corrupt (or let us say not so corrupt) – he has not given up against strong odds and he is a determined soul, He has a knack of delivering results. He may not be the best choice but he is the only choice. The people of Pakistan have started seeing him as their only hope. The success at Meenar e Pakistan was a manifestation of people desire for a change. Even his strongest adversaries have started realizing that he is now a force to reckon with.

The people are with him now, the young, the old, men and women – I had seen it with my eyes when I went to attend his gathering at neti -geti bridge.

I like to take morning walks. Last week while walking on the lawn of Askari - IV parks, I met with an acquaintance who said, “In the last election I supported MQM and my wife was with JI. This time over my wife has announced that she would vote for IK and I have decided that I will do the same.” The good thing is that he is not alone – a large number of friends, relatives and people from power industry that I come across are telling me the same thing. This change is the result of unprecedented loot and plunder and injustice brought upon by the present rulers.



Until now it was said that IK was a one man show. Now that people have started joining him the critics say that all those joining him are corrupt. Is it really the case or we have suddenly raised our standards too high ---

He has to induct comparatively honest, less corrupt and influential people in his ranks, he is after all out to win the election which is the target to achieve the goal. Let us remember that there is no crop of angels waiting to be picked up

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on a discussion at Inst of Business Admin in Karachi, Pakistan:

A vigorous difference of opinion among technocrats, economists and corporate leaders on a number of socio-economic issues was witnessed during an interactive session held at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) on Saturday. And at the end it was unclear whether democracy was the answer, or a dictatorship, as advocates for both arguments came up with pretty convincing logic.

Speaking at the session organised by IBA in collaboration with Blinck, a youth resource group, under the title of “New Year Resolutions for the Economy of Pakistan,” panellists candidly expressed disagreements over the questions of foreign aid, democracy and the interplay of policy-making and implementation at the national level.

“Many people think that a non-democratic set-up is a panacea for the economic problems of Pakistan. They’re wrong. A non-democratic government is not sustainable,” said Ishrat Husain, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, who is currently serving as dean and director of IBA. “Democracy is slow and messy. It takes two steps forward and four steps backwards. Yet it’s the only option. The democratic process shouldn’t be interrupted.”

Husain said military regimes do make an extra effort in the beginning to improve the economy because they have not yet developed a constituency of their own. “But later on, they start making compromises.”

Claiming that a democracy needs low poverty and high literacy rates to prosper, Gillette Pakistan CEO Saad Amanullah Khan said Pakistan had only two eras of development: first, in the early 1960s, and second, during the first three years of the Musharraf government. “I don’t care if a dictator is there as long as he revamps the economy,” Khan said.

He said that the idea of a government led by technocrats that could bring the economy back on its feet had its relative merits. Khan emphasised the need for adopting a national vision for long-term growth, adding that the entire nation should work towards its realisation. “Go to Proctor & Gamble or Gillette, and they’ll tell you their five-year goals in detail. But ask a government representative what the vision for Pakistan is for the next five years, you won’t get any definite answer.”

Disagreeing with Khan, Husain said Pakistan did not need any more “visions,” as the problem existed in their implementation only. “The country is full of pious documents. These are beautifully written policy papers that nobody reads. We all agree on the substance of policy, but the implementation is the real issue.”

Responding to a question, former Asia editor for The Economist Simon Long said it was wrong to attribute Pakistan’s dismal economic performance of six decades to its culture or laid-back attitude to work. He said that 35 years ago people often assumed China’s poor economy was a consequence of Confucianism. He said it was now obvious that Confucianism had nothing to do with the slow growth in the economy of China.

Talking about Pakistan’s economic indicators, Long said an economy with a tax-to-GDP ratio of less than 9% was not sustainable. He said it was hard for him to understand how Pakistan’s economic managers would bring down the fiscal deficit in next two to three years.

In response to the comment of a business student that Pakistan should stay away from all kinds of foreign aid and assistance to achieve self-reliance, Husain said the assumption that the Pakistani economy depended on US aid to survive was wrong. “Isolationism won’t solve our problems. Transfer of knowledge and technology is important. You’ve to be outward-oriented.”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/301827/failed-rescue-act-too-many-visions-for-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report Imran Khan's Karachi rally on Dec 25, 2011:

More than 100,000 people rallied in support of Pakistani cricket legend and opposition politician Imran Khan in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday, further cementing his status as a rising force in politics.

His message of cracking down on corruption and standing up to the U.S. has found new resonance at a time when Pakistanis are fed up with the country’s chronic insecurity and economic malaise.
----------
Khan has been especially popular with the country’s urban middle class youth, and many of the people at the rally were young Pakistanis wearing Western clothes.

Two prominent politicians who have joined Khan’s party in recent months include former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had a falling out with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, and Javed Hashmi, who was a key member of the main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Khan’s rising popularity could be a concern for the U.S., given his harsh criticism of the Pakistani government’s cooperation with Washington in the fight against Islamist militants.

He has been especially critical of U.S. drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan and has argued that the country’s alliance with Washington is the main reason Pakistan is facing a homegrown Taliban insurgency.

Despite Khan’s rising popularity, it’s unclear how much he can shake up the political scene in the next national elections in 2013. Both the PPP and the PML-N have strongly entrenched bases of support that will be difficult to challenge.

It’s also unclear exactly what Khan would do if he did win significant political power. He has yet to offer many specifics about how he would fix problems like corruption.



http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistan-cricket-legend-turned-opposition-leader-cements-political-aspirations-with-huge-rally/2011/12/25/gIQAxK94GP_story.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of Imran Khan's interview with PressTV:

"People are sick and tired of these old political families who pretend that they are protecting democracy. People are sick of them plundering the country. Their wealth is lying outside. Their interests are outside. Their properties are outside. They don't pay any taxes. And then it's family parties. So, the father's already preparing their sons to take over.

This sort of politics has become redundant in Pakistan because Asif Zardari co-opted all the political parties in this broad coalition, and he gave them a piece of the cake. While they were all enjoying the perks and privileges of power, a wild caption was going through the roof. Never have people suffered in Pakistan as now. "

"Let me get the record right. All the parties, all political parties supported Musharraf against Nawaz Sharif because Nawaz Sharif was going to bring in the 15th amendment where he would have become the Amir-al-Muminim - he would have become the commander of the faithful.

Using a Shria law, he would have just assumed dictatorship powers. So, we all stood up against him.

When Musharraf came in and he announced that he had ended sham democracy and was going to bring in general democracy, all of us supported him. "


http://www.presstv.ir/detail/217866.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times piece on Imran Khan written by Indian journalist Pankaj Mishra:

On a cool evening in March, Imran Khan, followed by his dogs, walked around the extensive lawns of his estate, sniffling with an incipient cold. “My ex-wife, Jemima, designed the house — it is really paradise for me,” Khan said of the villa, which sprawls on a ridge overlooking Himalayan foothills and Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. “My greatest regret is that she is not here to enjoy it,” he added, unexpectedly poignantly. We walked through the living room and then sat in his dimly lighted bedroom, the voices of servants echoing in the empty house, the mournful azans drifting up from multiple mosques in the city below.
-----------
“Why can’t the West understand? When I first went to England, I was shocked to see the depiction of Christianity in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian.’ This is their way. But for us Muslims, the holy Koran and the prophet, peace be upon him, are sacred. Why can’t the West accept that we have different ways of looking at our religions?

“Anyway,” Khan said in a calmer voice, “I am called an Islamic fundamentalist by Rushdie. My critics in Pakistan say I am a Zionist agent. I must be doing something right.”

Those adept at playing Pakistan’s never-ending game of political musical chairs have begun to take note of Khan. His party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice, or P.T.I., as it is called), has never won more than a single seat in Pakistan’s 342-member National Assembly. But a recent Pew opinion poll reveals Khan to be the country’s most popular politician by a large margin, and his growing appeal has drawn together two rivals from the establishment parties — the suavely patrician figure of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister from 2008 to 2011, and Javed Hashmi, an older street-fighting politician from Punjab, Pakistan’s politically dominant province — who are now, in Khan’s hastily improvised hierarchy, vice chairman and president of the P.T.I. respectively.

Khan’s campaign strategy is simple: he has promised to uproot corruption within 90 days, end the country’s involvement in America’s war on terror and institute an Islamic welfare state. ....
------------
I had already read Khan’s speech, peering over his shoulder in the car; it was not much different from what he said in previous rallies. Like many in the audience, I left before 5 p.m., late in Abbottabad’s valley, where darkness sets in early. On the way back to Islamabad, I stopped at a grocery store to buy some water. The owner, watching wrestling on his small television set, was a bit reluctant when I asked him to switch over to Khan’s rally. “Has Imran come?” he asked. “Is he speaking now? People have been waiting since noon.”

I told him the crowd was starting to disperse. “Of course they will,” he retorted. “They have to travel long distances in the hills.” He snorted when I said that the lateness of Khan’s speech was due to the media’s schedule. After some channel-hopping, I caught a brief clip of Khan at the rally repeating his gibe about Bilawal Bhutto’s lack of Urdu. The depleted crowd, it seemed clear, was not going to make history for Imran Khan, or supersede Abbottabad’s reputation as the town where a semiretired terrorist found marital bliss. But he seemed more relaxed than he was in Sialkot and Mianwali. The TV channels had clearly not betrayed him. And for once his groupies, spellbound by the cameramen, had not abandoned Khan onstage.


www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/magazine/pakistans-imran-khan-must-be-doing-something-right.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on British Council sponsored survey of Pak youth:

Government, parliament and political parties are all held in overwhelming contempt by Pakistanis aged 18-29, while the army and religious organisations are the two most popular institutions in the country. The survey of 5,271 young people is a sobering reminder of the challenges posed by Pakistan's peculiar demographics, where 46% of the population is aged between 15-29.

The troubled nation's vast youth bulge has been seen as a cause for optimism by some observers, with hopes pinned on a wave of young people pouring into the workforce in the coming decades that should trigger dramatic economic growth and development.

But the report warns that Pakistan faces a demographic disaster if it fails to use its young people. Talent was wasted by an "education emergency", a poor climate for business investors and high unemployment – half of the "next generation" does not work, according to the report.

"Pakistan could be one of the first countries ever to grow old before it has grown rich," it said, pointing out that the country will start to age by mid-century.

It also makes depressing reading for the politicians gearing up for general elections on 11 May, when more than 30% of the electorate is aged 18 to 29.

The survey found 94% thought the country was going in the wrong direction, with much of the blame laid at the door of the civilian institutions that have run the country since power was seized back from the army in 2008.

It said 71% had an unfavourable opinion of the government, 67% of parliament and 69% viewed political parties unfavourably. By contrast, 77% of young people approve of the army, while 74% were favourable inclined towards religious organisations.

Only 29% of young people believe democracy is the best political system for Pakistan. Military rule would be preferred by 32% and Sharia law by 38%.

With 13m new votes up for grabs among an army of first-time voters, there is a "transformational opportunity for any party that succeeds in motivating young voters to go to the polls", the report said. However, only 40% are certain to vote.

Imran Khan, cricket star turned politician, hoping to pull off the unlikely coup of going from zero seats in parliament to enough to lead the next government, is banking heavily on young people who flock to his mega rallies.

The survey shows the primary youth concerns are economic, with people worrying about soaring inflation, a jobs crisis and poverty.

Because fewer than half of young women are expecting to vote, the report branded housewives a "potential game-changer" if more of them could be inspired to take part in elections.

"Basically the ideal candidate to get the housebound women out is Margaret Thatcher in burqa," said Fasi Zaka, a columnist who was a member of the taskforce that helped produce the report for the British Council.

"They are fundamentally worried about their economic position and they are conservative, they want someone that talks about values."

According to the report, moderates and liberals are a minority among Pakistan's youth, with two-thirds of women and 64% of men describing themselves as religious or conservative.

Some commentators fear the most likely result of the election will be a hung parliament, or a shaky coalition led by one of the two established parties, that would struggle to deliver the economic growth and jobs that young people crave.


http://m.guardiannews.com/world/2013/apr/02/pakistan-young-voters-democracy-despair

Riaz Haq said...

Geoffrey Langlands, teacher of #Lahore elite, says #PTI chief #Imrankhan was a mediocre student at Aitchison College. He says Farooq Leghari and Aitazaz Ahsan and Ch Nisar Ali Khan were good students. He also taught Bugti kids but he didn't think much of them as students at Aitchison College.

http://youtu.be/rPX0r0LYU24