By Dr. Haider Mehdi
I sought to find a pattern, a deeper purpose, at the time, the events I am about
to recount seemed random and arbitrary. The reporter in me, you see, insists
there is order in the universe. And my own life attests to this. Besides, to
deny the existence of order means to believe in a world of permanent chaos.
And I find such a concept unacceptable. So if there is a message to be found
in this tale, it is this: There is sense…a plan behind everything that happens.
-Arlene J. Chai in Eating Fire and Drinking Water
In the Urdu language, there is a proverb: Khuda ki lathi be-avaz hai (The Almighty makes no sound and when it strikes, it strikes without warning). Implicit in this proverb is the message that God’s wrath strikes in mysterious ways. What may seem a curse, on the face of it, may turn out to be a blessing in the long-run; celestial interventions work in secretive and mystical manners. What might seem like a political or military victory to an oppressor, may turn out to be a defeat in its ultimate consequences or insightful analysis. A natural disaster, one like the impoverished people of Pakistan have recently experienced with untold miseries, wretchedness, distress and anguish, might ignite a mass political movement on a national level to emancipate the nation from the reactionary, oppressive and dysfunctional political system and a political elite that has brought this country to an absolute political-economic-social-cultural abyss. And that’s where Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf becomes a pivotal political factor in the future politics of this country.
Imran Khan’s political agenda can be conceptualized in a fairly simple, plausible, metaphysical, transformational and manifested way: It is setting in process the making of a political revolution in Pakistan. Imran Khan’s ideological doctrine offers to this nation what has been fundamentally lacking in its political system and leadership: personal and political credibility, integrity, compassion, dedication, fairness and justice, managerial expertise, a visionary outlook, political discipline, a realistic estimate of public aspirations and needs, an untiring approach to public welfare and a pledge to deliver whatever is required by circumstances. Imran Khan’s efforts to raise over 100 crore rupees for flood victim relief is a case in point.
A note on Imran Khan’s personal profile as a potential national leader is imperative here: unless one takes a cynical view of Imran Khan’s personal life and his achievements, the cricketer-turned-politician has established his remarkable credentials as a “managerial guru,” a “compassionate visionary” and a “leader” who has the capacity and capabilities to mobilize team-players, generate ideas and execute them with speed and efficiency. Imran Khan undertakes projects with unwavering faith, absolute confidence, unabated dedication and unsurpassed determination. Imran Khan is a person who shows results. Just look at his endeavors, their successes and the momentous tasks that involved these enterprises: Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Center, Namal University in Mianwali, fund raising for the flood victims and countless selfless hours and years invested with compassion to deliver public welfare. These qualities and achievements do not come without some kind of intrinsic leadership attributes and a phenomenal investment in self-reflection, self-awareness, self-correction and self-transformation. Imran Khan is also honest, repentant and a simple enough person to say openly: I do not want power for the sake of power. I want to be there to change the present system. Imran Khan’s politics is not rhetorical, sloganistic or a symbolic manipulation of public sentiment. He “calls a spade a spade.”
Pakistan, so far, has been ruled and managed by grotesque political elite, gruesome power-seeking military generals, bankers and hpw bureaucrats in overlapping systems of selfishly looking after themselves and their personal interests. Meanwhile they have been dragging this nation of God-fearing, saint-loving and intrinsically spiritual and community-oriented people into a dark hole of socio-economic-psycho-cultural unfathomable depression, poverty, and ultimate hopelessness. They have also entered into global alliances that have fundamentally worked against national interests; these alliances have made this nation aid-dependent, un-self-reliant, fighting proxy wars for US-Western interests and have turned its peaceful people into suicide bombers. It is about time that all of this must change – and change now.
Pakistan does not need to be a “Great Society,” a “Great Nation,” – it just needs to be a “Good Society,” a “Good Nation.” We have to choose our route to national transformation very, very carefully. We do not need to build luxurious malls and have sky-rocketing real estate prices for urban housing projects dividing the nation into the “haves” and “have-nots.” We need to stop propping up global chain stores and supermarkets invading our local street markets so that our money stays inside the country and with us, rather than profits remitted to other nations – and so that we can have the joy of knowing each other rather than being turned into nameless customers standing in ever-expanding ques (making foreign companies rich as the expense of our cultural imperatives).
And we need to massively engage rural Pakistan into a national developmental process. We need to actively involve the entire nation into building a “middle class” society. We do not only need to tackle the problems of nation-wide joblessness, but to go further into strategic planning that should “transform” the lives of common citizens. We should strive for a “Good Society” that values its culture, promotes tolerance, love and compassion. We need to revolutionize our concept of work-balance, the joys of family life and children, green spaces, clean cities and beautiful villages, pollution-free environments, innovative health care programs for all, free elementary education for every child, inexpensive public transport and a commitment to community development, cohesive national unity and fairness to all minorities. We need to put an end to injustices meted out so far to smaller provinces and nationally recognize the language, traditions, cultural diversity and due share of involvement of all provinces on a basis of equality in all national affairs. We all need to stand together.
A word for Imran Khan’s transformational political education and strategic doctrine of political change: Imran Khan will be well advised to put in place a Post-Flood Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Secretariat, staffed by professionals and volunteers, to prepare rural reconstruction blueprints, plans and programs with implicit deadlines for completion. This Secretariat should make ready housing maps and comprehensively structured designs to add schooling and health facilities to those communities. This Secretariat will also need a Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy wing, staffed by state-of-the-art expertise, to do pre-damage control of plans by the powers-that-be and political elements that want the political status quo to prevail indefinitely in Pakistan. Only Imran Khan’s legendary determination and managerial skills can accomplish such a task: Imran Khan will have to consider this political landscape as if on a cricket field to win the championship match.
Transformational politics is a deadly dangerous and difficult job. Conceptualizing Imran Khan’s doctrine of political change is the only hope that is likely to instigate a revolution of systemic change in this country. Amazingly, the recent devastating floods offer, in God’s mysterious way, a window of opportunity for Tehreek-e-Insaf to go forward for the salvation of this nation.
Indeed, “There is sense..a plan behind everything that happens.”!!
And my own life attests to it…and so does Imran Khan’s!!!
The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert.