Imran Khan is playing very dagerous game.

Imran, Allama and Pakistan ka matlab kiya

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Speaking at one of his rallies, Imran Khan asked “What slogan did Quaid-e-Azam use to make Pakistan?” and then answered his own question with “Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La illah ilallah”. The only problem is that this is a slogan that Quaid-e-Azam never used. In fact, in what could have been Jinnah addressing Imran Khan through space time continuum, we find that the founder of this state as having very clearly stated that Pakistan ka matlab kiya was not a slogan he ascribed to. Saad Khairi in his book “Jinnah Reinterpreted” recounts that a local leader of the Muslim League at the final meeting of the All India Muslim League said “Quaid-e-Azam, we have been promising our followers Pakistan Ka Matlab Kiya La illah ilallah” to which Jinnah angrily responded “Sit down. Neither I nor the working committee of the Muslim League have passed any resolution to the effect Pakistan ka matlab kiya. You might have done so to catch a few votes.”

What Imran Khan is doing now – with his references to Pakistan ka matlab kiya- is merely an attempt to “catch a few votes”. Imran Khan was the one politician many of us would have never expected to resort to such blatant populism based on myths and lies but then a man is known by the company he jeeps. A recent addition to his party is of the discredited “father of the bomb” Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan. Here is a man who is accused not just of selling Pakistan’s nuclear secrets for personal gain but is someone who put the country in peril repeatedly. Very few people remember – public memories being terribly short and all- that Qadeer Khan had given Kuldip Nayyar an interview in the late 1980s where he had dropped the bombshell quite deliberately that Pakistan had the nuclear capability. This of course led to sanctions and international isolation. In any event, Qadeer Khan’s role – beyond smuggling a few components and what not- in the nuclear program is overstated. He is not even a nuclear physicist or any kind of atomic scientist. His training is as a metallurgist.

Doublespeak – coupled with doublethink in a very Orwellian sense- has come to define the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf from the top to bottom. Rhetoric of change is accompanied by old hands of the status quo. For Imran Khan’s repeated emphasis on “one education for all”, one of his major leaders is the owner of the largest private school chain. Imran Khan castigates the immoral westernized elite that is “insensitive” to the feelings of masses (at one point in his book he attributes Islamic Revolution in Iran to the offensive miniskirts of Iranian elite women in the 1970s) and yet it is this immoral westernized elite that he is the darling of. For all his railing against “Brown sahibs” all these years, Khan himself would be nothing if he had not been the Oxford educated Brown sahib that he is. However just like in Orwell’s 1984, in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the earth can be flat as well as round according to circumstances. Imran Khan rightly condemned the assassination of Governor Salmaan Taseer but PTI’s vice president Ijaz Chaudhry was in attendance at “free Qadri” rally claiming to represent Imran Khan. Khan stresses peace with India, but his party describes Hafiz Saeed as a “preacher of peace”.

Imran Khan’s “blue print for our future” Allama Iqbal gives us a clue to his befuddlement. Undoubtedly Allama Iqbal was an extraordinary thinker who gave new ideas for revitalization of Islam at a time when Muslims had been on the retreat. The concept of ijtehad and reconciliation of modern ideas with Islam which Iqbal forwarded were advanced for Muslims – earning him the ire of the religiously orthodox at times. Still Iqbal’s ideas –beyond some basic outlines – do not provide any practical basis for the reconciliation project for the future. There was never any consistency in Iqbal’s ideas. Dr. Iqbal changed his mind – as a popular song these days goes- like a girl changes her clothes. For example in his famous Allahabad address, which is said to have inspired the creation of Pakistan – Iqbal very clearly spoke of such a state –within or without the British Empire- as not being subjected to religious rule. Its stated purpose was the liberation of Islam from the stamp of Arab imperialism, whatever that meant. Yet the same Iqbal was also adamant that separation of religion from politics meant changaizi or barbarism.

Iqbal also spoke of a grand national assembly consisting of ulema carrying out ijtehad. Such ideas – the molding of the collective per se- have no place in modern world where individualism is paramount. Secondly Pakistan has under the 1973 constitution implemented these ideas through introduction of the Council of Islamic Ideology – which with very few exceptions- has come up with inane recommendations that cannot be implemented. Then we tried incorporating a Federal Shariat Court which has given one retrogressive ruling after another transforming Pakistan into a full blown theocracy. Therefore having tried and failed at Ijtehad through a grand national assembly, one can safely say that the Iqbalian project – no matter how romantic- is impracticable.

Therefore it is entirely unclear as to what it means in hard boiled practical terms, when Imran Khan calls Iqbal the “blueprint for our future”. Nation states- especially those with problems such as ours- cannot be run on rhetoric or on fuel of good intentions. What guidance can Iqbal’s ideas- which have been tried and tested and which have proved to be a disaster for Pakistan- give to Pakistan of today? Should we continue to chase after dreams and shadows?

Imran Khan would have to do better if he is serious about leading Pakistan.

Courtesy: Pak Tea House

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