Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Case of Exploding Nerves

We have been frequent critics of Imran Khan the politician in the past and with very good reason. I still hold that his prescriptions for Pakistan's various ills are entirely simplistic and that his flirtations with the mullah lobby are dangerous indicators of his muddle-headed analysis of this country's political economy. And if anything gets my back up more, it's his and his supporters' dour self-righteousness on top of it all.

But even I have to admit that for the first time ever Immy bhai exhibited a sense a wit when he dubbed Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, presiding over a grossly personalized maladministration in the Punjab, the "Dengue Biradraan" (the Dengue Brothers). It actually made me laugh. Perhaps a rising popularity graph in the province can do wonders for your self-confidence. It's certainly loosened Immy bhai's stiff neck it seems.

Imran Khan addressing a big rally in Gujranwala in September

A showdown of egos now looms as the PMLN stages its Lahore rally tomorrow, followed by the Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) rally in the city on the 30th. Since Immy bhai has boasted that the size of the back to back rallies in Lahore will determine "whether Lahore is with Insaf (justice) or with dengue", much is at stake for both parties but particularly for the Sharifs who understandably consider Lahore their home turf. It's unlikely that any real analysis can be drawn from the relative sizes of the two rallies (unless one turns out to be surprisingly small, which is unlikely) and, in any case, when have political jalsas - with their bused-in supporters - ever given a clear picture of a party's electoral prospects?

But if any further proof were needed that Immy bhai's apparent advances in the Punjab (Gujranwala's large turnout on September 26 was the turning point) have rattled the PMLN, you need only read the statement given by their Senator Mushahidullah yesterday:

"About Imran Khan’s PTI, he said how they could talk to a person who talks about sweeping the country like a tsunami and builds his arguments on hearsays [sic] and uses ‘uncivilised’ language against political rivals. He alleged that Imran was and is [an] agent of certain forces active only to damage the PML-N vote bank and is politically ‘immature’. 
He claimed that they had documentary evidence about financial corruption of ‘Mr Clean’ and would make it public at an appropriate time. He asked where from [sic] the PTI chief had got the money to arrange successive sit-ins and rallies in the country as just a few months ago he (Imran) had said on record that the party lacked funds to arrange big shows and perform other publicity stunts. 
“Either he has got funds in an underhand deal with the PPP government or the agencies or through betting in cricket as (cricketer) Salman Butt talked to Imran before accepting the alleged deal with the bookies,” the PML-N information secretary added."

Now, one should realize that Mr Mushahidullah was nothing more than a mid-tier officer in the state-owned PIA, active in the airline's PMLN-affiliated union before he was bestowed with the favour of senatorship by his patron Nawaz Sharif. According to PIA sources, his primary job at PIA was apparently carrying the Sharifs' bags whenever they travelled. We have previously posted items about his own level of civility (here and here) which can give you some idea of his intellectual level. However, this is a new low even for him.

Whatever differences one may have with Imran Khan's politics, no one has ever accused him of personal financial impropriety (which, incidentally, the Sharifs have much to answer about despite the media's amnesia on the matter). For Mushahidullah to then go on and insinuate that he was somehow involved in the spot-fixing saga involving Salman Butt (Butt claimed he spoke to Imran Khan from London to get cricketing tips mainly as a way of deflecting allegations that he was more interested in making money with bookies than in the game itself, Imran confirmed the call, and nobody has even in the slightest implied that the former skipper was in any way connected to the fixing scandal), is to only betray the PMLN senator's own absurdity and nervousness.

If, as is apparent from Mushahidullah's rant, the PMLN is clutching at straws, this rivalry should make for some very interesting viewing in the coming days.


Anonymous said...

Imran Khan cracks a joke. The Revolution is already upon us!

Ammar R said...

Interesting indeed how the PML-N's getting increasingly nervous about Immy K, which is understandable for a host of reasons.
Not too sure, however, about the notion of Immy's wit being a recent phenomenon borne of his popularity surge. I'd say IK was prone to recurrent bursts of impolitic, often arrogant, yet mildly funny rants way before this recent populist wave. Recall his branding of Babar Sattar as resembling an African father in response to the Sita White allegations. Also, that video of his political 'stand-up' in London where he starts by chastising the audience for insulting dogs by comparing them to Zardari.
Point being, Imran's long loved to try his hand at political wit, even if distasteful and bordering on the xenophobic.
The visible rise in popularity as of late, however, is hardly a laughing matter.

Ammar R said...

*I meant Babar Ghauri, not Babar Sattar up there. My bad.

Anonymous said...

The hands that are propping up the Imran Khan phenomenon are well known. I think that Sharif brothers are doped to think that Imran Khan is a threat. Pakistani politics does not baffle me at all.

Boduc said...

Hmmm ... interesting to note that recently Cafe Pyala and NFP have been supporting IK over PML-N.

Anonymous said...

@Boduc Yes I noticed that too. Did his book clear some notions about him being Taliban sympathizer? I wonder.

thisoneguy said...

"Now, one should realize that Mr Mushahidullah was nothing more than a mid-tier officer in the state-owned PIA, active in the airline's PMLN-affiliated union before he was bestowed with the favour of senatorship by his patron Nawaz Sharif. According to PIA sources, his primary job at PIA was apparently carrying the Sharifs' bags whenever they travelled."

Mushahidullah's other problems aside, the above doesn't say anything, sounds classist and appeals to the visceral anti-unionism many in the new urban middle-class seem to be having.

Stay classy, Pyalites.

Arsalan said...

Armchair analysts like you are doing a disservice to Pakistan. It is easy for you to come up with criticisms against Imran Khan, without uttering a word of appreciation for what he has done for the country.

You call his thinking muddled, and yet what alternative do individuals such as you propose? Who would you recommend the people of Pakistan to trust with their vote.

You mention honesty in passing, as if it is an ordinary quality. When he bravely questions the status quo, suddenly he becomes part of a 'ghairat brigade.'

Only seeing his flaws, you distract the narrative away from the PTI's main thrust - human development - health, education, income. All you can focus upon is that the man is religious. A shoddy analysis if there ever was one.

Anonymous said...

Just as one grudgingly starts saying that Imran Khan may not be the king of all political losers after all and mildly begin to rate his chances, one of his insufferable supporters (@arsalan)barges in and makes you rethink your change of heart.

Why oh why are PTI supporters always so utterly self-righteous and intolerant of any mild criticism of their hero? And why don't they ever read anything before jumping in to launch their attacks?

PTI Supporter (Tolerant One ;) said...

An intolerant supporter shouldn't be the reason to change heart. Do the right thing. One can only request to such "nadaan" friends, but can't force anything. Imran Khan is sincere, his contribution to country are matchless and he is much more tolerant than Nawaz Sharif and Zardari.
And dear PTI supporters, please read it than comment. (a note to self as well)

Salar Maiwand said...

so why did you bring up that Mushaidullah was a "mid-tier officer"? It didn't make any sense and then you imply that his manners are bad. So as a reader i get the impression that being a non-elite has much to do with bad manners.
you are so elitist. God, you stink.

Arsalan said...

The only thing insufferable here is your cynicism (@anonyous). Additionally, taking advice from someone who doesn't even have the confidence to use their name with their post, is I wont.

Agar abhi tak itnay hi confused ho about where to cast your vote, and if your political allegiances are based upon one-off comments on blogs, then good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

(@Arsalan)Who said I was even considering VOTING for Imran Khan? I wouldn't go anywhere near anyone who loves the Taliban so much. I was only saying that I was just beginning to think, maybe he was not the ultimate loser I always thought he was, that's all. I was giving your great leader the benefit of the doubt rather than running to the polling station to vote for him. But with supporters like you, I am not so sure again

MRK said...

@Anonymous: Did your girlfriend write this article or u did ? did u read the article u urself posted ? I see a lot of criticism which lacks logic and brain.

Sddd said...

Record your Skype calls and conferences with with

ralphhr said...

nice discussion, thanks