This is the story of a person named Tazeen and a Pakistani celebrity Imran Khan. It tells us how some people grow up and realize things are not what they seem to be and how some other people regress and become abysmally dense.
Tazeen was a super excited kid. She was one of those kids who got the chance to meet one of her heroes Imran Khan. Not only that she met him, she was also awarded a badge (along with a goodies bag with Imran Khan’s autographed poster) which said, ‘Imran’s Tigers’ because Tazeen sold a certain number of raffle tickets and raised the desired amount of funds for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (a trust founded by Imran Khan for free cancer treatment of poor people). So determined was Tazeen to earn that ‘Imran’s Tigers’ badge that she twisted the arm of her mother’s jeweler (a Memon seth of all the people) and sold him a good 100 raffle tickets. Tazeen was ecstatic when she received her badge and shook hands with Imran Khan. Much to her mother’s chagrin, she plastered Imran Khan’s autographed poster in her room for next two years.
Imran Khan launched a political party. Tazeen was no longer a child and was a bit skeptical about Imran Khan’s political future, but she had faith in the man. After all, Khan was one of those very few Pakistanis who were good at everything they do – be it cricket, philanthropy or fund raising. She thought he would be just as good, if not better, at politics.
Tazeen was barely out of school, a fresh faced journalist working for a newspaper, and was excited about being able to vote for the first time. Just before the elections, she got the chance to attend an event hosted in honor of Mr Imran Khan by some women in media group. Imran Khan spoke at length about the importance of justice and fair play. Tazeen was suitably impressed and asked Mr. Khan about his party’s stance on CEDAW. CEDAW is a UN Convention for Eradication of Discrimination Against Women which was signed by Peoples Party government (During BB’s first stint as PM), but no further legislation was carried out until then at either national or provincial level to modify the laws in accordance with CEDAW(some changes were made in 2006). Mr. Khan first asked his associate what CEDAW was. For a politician who was running an election campaign and was talking exclusively with women journalists, that attitude was not the best way forward. The associate turned out to be just as clueless about CEDAW as Mr. Khan was. When Tazeen explained what CEDAW was and asked Mr. Khan about his policy to redress the discriminatory laws, he refused to acknowledge that there were any discriminatory laws against women in Pakistan. When Tazeen pointed out Hudood Ordinance, he said that Hudood laws are a necessary tool to keep the morality of people in check. Tazeen was highly disturbed and a little sad at the degeneration of her childhood hero.
Tazeen lived in England and was reading for her Master’s degree. Imran Khan got divorced and the news was plastered all over, from respectable newspapers such as Guardian and Times to tabloids such as Sun and Daily Mirror. Everyone had an opinion or two about it, including Tazeen’s Greek & Philippino flatmates. Someone said that Imran Khan mistreated his wife. Tazeen defended Imran Khan’s honor and that of her country and refused to believe that former Mrs. Khan was mistreated by anyone in Pakistan, including her former husband.
Tazeen had all but given up on Imran Khan. A man who once asked Junoon to come up with Ehtesab anthem (a song about accountability of politicians in Pakistan) which took pot shots at BB, Zardari and Nawaz Sharif took political cues from the same Man of Steel (that’s Nawaz Sharif for the uninitiated) and followed an extremely right wing political ideology (I prefer to call idiology).
Tazeen visibly cringed every time Imran Khan appeared on Hamid Mir’s talk show, acting all arrogant and saying, “Hamad, tumhain naheen pata, main batata hoon.” (Hamid, you don’t know anything, let me tell you how it all goes).
Tazeen was invited to present a paper at an International symposium on Democracy. Imran Khan was chairing a session. Although it had nothing to do with the session he was chairing, Imran Khan first regaled everyone with tales of courage & valor of Justice Iftekhar Chaudhry and then about the impeccable justice system of jirga courts operated by tribes across the country. (Jirga is a council of influential and rich men of a certain tribe who settle disputes amongst themselves. Most often, these disputes are settled through cash payments or through marrying off young girls to men of inappropriate age and/or character as compensation for a crime committed by their male relatives).
Tazeen was neither a super excited kid nor a fresh faced journalist who was easily impressed by a celebrity. Tazeen was as much of a cynic as one can be and asked Mr. Khan how could he support independent judiciary and an alternative justice system of jirga courts because, for all intents and purposes, they’re mutually exclusive? Imran Khan apparently mistook Tazeen for Hamid Mir (although she looked nothing like Mr. Hamid Mir, had long hair and never sported a mustache) and said, “Bibi apko kuch naheen pata, main batata hoon.” (bibi, you don’t know anything, let me tell you how it all goes). Tazeen had enough of Imran Khan and his relentless support for jirga. She intercepted and said, “But Khan Sahib, how could you support a system which institutionally excludes women and poor men from the decision making process?” Imran Khan had lost it at that and lashed out at Tazeen. He was red in the face and foamed at the corners of his mouth and said, “Bibi, you stopped me mid sentence, that’s budd tameezi (bad manners) and I don’t talk to bad tameez (ill mannered) people.” He also took a shot at how horribly Tazeen was raised. Tazeen just laughed at that.
Tazeen now thinks Imran Khan is not even a real politician. He is a “Made for TV Politician” who is good at riling other people in political discussion or telling Hamid Mir that is he is a nincompoop and does not know anything. Tazeen believes that Imran Khan would start doing hair implant infomercials in future which would go something like this:
Main pehlay buhat ganja tha jis ki wajah se kaafe pareshan rehta tha, meri biwi bhi mujhe chor ke chalee gayee, phir mujhe kisi ne Azmat Nai se baal lagwanay ka mashwara diya, bas main forun hi Azmat Nai ke paas gaya ……
Moral of the story: For better or for worse, everything changes.
This post has way too many Desi references and people outside Pakistan & India may not even get it. Many apologies for that.