Oct 11, 2012 - PTI, Society    3 Comments

The zeal for rhetoric

Pakistanis are quite good at being critical, whether it is our personal lives or collective, we criticise with impunity and aplomb. However, some people and institutions, no matter how reprehensible and opprobrious their behaviour is, remain above question and mockery. Imran Khan is also turning into such an individual with perhaps, the most vocal supporters of them all.

The best thing that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in general, and its peace march in particular, has done is that it provided us with an insight into people’s minds (using social networking websites as a medium to gauge public reaction). It has always been a taboo of sorts to question the actions of the great Khan. Now, however, it has become impossible to make harmless jokes at his expense because “he is that man who is doing something while people like me who dare to question, mock or laugh at him, are merely sitting in front of our computers busy ‘facebooking’ or tweeting about it”. It’s as though until and unless you have accomplished twice as many feats as Imran Khan, the person (not the politician), you have no right to either question or mock his politics. Why must one be chastised or trolled for not liking a particular political figure or joking about him?

What is most ironic is that the people, who jump to defend the honour of the great Khan, fail to realize that they are doing exactly the same — judging someone while sitting in front of their computers — as they accuse others of.

It’s amazing how, by just supporting a politician — we still don’t know how many of them will actually get up and go out to cast their votes come election day — the fans of the PTI think they have done something worthwhile, which makes them more morally correct than other mortals for they have the foresight to pick the right candidate. Even when you feel like mocking them for their fervent zeal, you are told that you should not do that because at least the PTI is different from other political parties and Khan is the messiah.

If you are a person who is easily appeased by words, it is quite easy to support Imran Khan whole-heartedly, especially when he talks about ambiguous things such as sovereignty. What if he takes a stand on an issue that is polarising? What if, God forbid, Imran Khan opposes the blasphemy ordinance or calls for the declaration of domestic violence as a crime punishable by the local courts? What if Imran Khan declares Federal Shariat Court a superfluous body that should be dissolved? What if he supports the construction of Kalabagh dam? I know it is wishful thinking on my part and being a politician, Imran Khan will do no such thing, but it is something worth pondering over whether he will go against mainstream rhetoric and focus on things that really affect people.

In their heads, people seem to have already turned Imran Khan into this harbinger of change, which is okay, but we also need to question whether we are ready to be confronted by the truth. The public is happy with Khan as long as he is making noise about things we’re all against but we will never indulge in real and open debate about issues that matter because we are either not ready or not willing to tackle them. We are happy in our distraction that at least Imran Khan is talking about them.

First published in The Express Tribune. 

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3 Comments

  • I think the fact that Imran Khan is above reproach for his followers is reflective of the mindset of the entire nation. I remember, during the late 80s and early 90s when I was in St. Patricks and DJ College, I could not criticize Benazir or Altaf Hussain when speaking to their zealots. Those guys were even more dangerous becuase they used to carry real guns at the time into colleges. Their refrain used to be that you can criticize MQM/PPP all you want but don’t ever say a word about any of the Bhuttos or Altaf Hussain. Had social media been around then, we may have seen the same for other parties too. PTI leadership needs to do a better job at ensuring that their followers don’t turn into jiyalay or peer sahib kay rakhwaalay. Funnily enough, I remember that I could not even say Altaf Hussain’s name when talking about him. I had to restrict myself to Peer sahib or Altaf Bhai.

  • Tazee, you could have done better at this. I only read generalizations here.

  • Hello Tazeen,

    When reading your blog and some others from India, I am always flabbergasted that politics in those countries seem just normal, like over here, in Europe. The chattering classes.

    But there is a kind of civil war going on in Pakistan, bearded fanatics in nightgowns kill wholesale but that seems not really to be the main topic.

    I was interested in reading the SAP Arbeiter’s comment. The blog’s title testifies to the fact that he is working in a German company.

    In China and North Korea they managed to establish Communist aristocracies and monarchies and in India+Pakistan we have dictatorial-chaotic-head-in-the-sand democracies.

    Great stuff.

    Georg

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