imran khan

Imran Khan has inspired a generation of apolitical individuals into taking up a cause. Nida is proud to be part of that generation.

I have spent years of being a concerned but mostly apolitical citizen. I’ve believed in the concept of democracy but never participated in the process. I’ve bemoaned our countless problems but never thought about how I may have been a part of its reasons by not recognizing my right and responsibility – my vote.

So I began the journey to try and find out as much as I could about my options; to balance the politicos talk with their walk; to weigh their achievements in context of their positions; to judge what they’ve given the nation with what they’ve taken from it.

Many like me refrained from foraying into this territory because there was little to look up to or relate with the leaders on the shelf. Imran Khan has almost single handedly inspired this category out of its slumber [youth and women being a large chunk of it]. He asked them to own the nation and change its destiny.

I haven’t followed his cricketing career so there won’t be any nostalgic references of that but I have studied Khan the politician closely. He is possibly the first party leadership in Pakistan to have had the most organic growth – and I cannot stress enough about the advantages of it. In Imran Khan we have a truly credible person with philanthropic achievements on his résumé;someone who doesn’t need politics or titles for self-vested interests. This ensured [and shall continue to] that there were no short-cuts and plenty brave stands.

Dynastic politics is so entrenched in the minds of the sub-continent that people almost wear its badge proudly. Yes, once upon a time someone may have done something great but it’s a bit rich to imagine this extends to their next-of-kin’s birthright to rule. What all the great people failed to do was realise that they aren’t immortal. Imran Khan has stood apart here. As someone once wrote, if he has his way he will build PTI so that it flourishes even without him. And then, we saw the intra-party elections. A tradition has been set for PTI and a strong democratic foundation laid; with each cycle this will only make it stronger. Not something for the faint-hearted; with no precedent of it in the sub-continent and in the year of general elections this deserves applause.

As a Pakistani, I see it as a trailer of how a truly secure person can institutionalise departments. Something that should have happened day before yesterday but either insecurity or lack of vision kept blocking its way. Interesting results came out. Recommendations by these people paved the way for 80% ticket allotment to those who hadn’t been in the assemblies [35% under the age of 40]. This is again a bold effort to empower a wide array of people and bring them into mainstream politics. Will each of them be a “clean face” so to speak? I don’t expect that; these are people from amongst us who were willing to participate in politics. Are all of us angels? I’ll leave that unanswered. I’d rather focus on the majority then allow the few there may be reservations on to take the limelight.

The policy papers; to see a political party prioritise doing its homework, explaining it and opening it for critique is undoubtedly a huge leap forward from mere political sloganeering. Each of these policies are interlinked and the best criticism that I have seen is that it’s good but impossible to fully achieve. Much has been made out of Khan saying he will end “upper crust” [generally overlooked part of the claim] corruption in 90 days. Will he? He says they have a plan. Has he delivered on seemingly impossible things so far? Yes, he has.

For me as a supporter these timelines are an indicator of the priorities. Every government has a 100 day plan and the snarks have become stale now. There are short-term and long-term plans. Education will be declared a much needed emergency but will be a slow yielding. Raising the education budget and bringing English medium, Urdu medium and madrasahs under one core syllabus; to give every child the opportunity to reach their potential, is one especially close to my heart. Devolution of power, another. If his leadership can so much as manage the first step towards the right direction, I’m satisfied.

Accountability; all assets of PTI’s central leadership and their families were declared with their tax returns much earlier than the welcomed move by ECP to include it in the nomination papers. In a country that must make itself financially viable and misuse of public funds is sighted as one of the reasons for tax evasion, transparency is a necessary step. It was good to see a party take this initiative before it was a forced obligation.

The much debated and often confused is the anti-terrorism policy. I will take the liberty of saying that I agree with a more holistic and multi-faceted approach. To very briefly touch upon: Isolate the “jihad” narrative providing the support base; negotiate and improve the living standards of the tribals caught between militancy and military; truth and reconciliation for those ready to abandon; legislate laws and add witness protection; better trained and equipped police force; make funding transparent; targeted military operations as a part of a political process for the hard liners. Our much stretched and exhausted army could do with this help. Those internally displaced and with children out of schools are vulnerable to being future recruits.

Separate Afghan Taliban from TTP from sectarian terrorism from turf wars from miscreants. Each needs a customised approach to be dealt with. Lumping them together is not only lazy but fatal. He’s often expected to give strong statements, if only those were enough to get rid of this menace. I expect action. It’s irresponsible, not to mention dangerous, to expect a person to spell out the sensitive details on television before he’s even in a position to do anything about. But alas! The lack of a statement by others are given benefit of doubt. Can the plan have flaws? It may, situations change and solutions have to modified with them. What I am sure of is that being anti-Pakistan goes against the man’s grain.

This brings me to empathy, an important emotion that anyone aspiring to serve the nation should have but was constantly seen missing in our rulers. People taken to the corridors of power by this nation were absent when calamities hit. Khan lead his team from the front and with him everyone’s attention [Shia killings in Quetta and Gilgit, Baldia factory fire affectees in Karachi, Christian houses torched in Lahore,  Peace March for drone victims and IDPs in Waziristan etc] He and his party bravely stood by the people and asked for action against the perpetrators.

It is still essentially a two party system, the status-quo vs PTI.

In our polarised society, I see a man guiding his team on a very thin line of the gray area between. If throwing my support behind him widens this line, I shall do just that. Democracy is not an event, it’s a process that has to evolve. It requires active participation and the ballot paper don’t have an option for “neutral”. We must vote and vote wisely. I know I will.

Image Courtesy: Newsception