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Editorial: The Ideology of Imran Khan

Pervez Hoodbhoy analyzes the PTI’s worldview

by Editorial

Screengrab of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s address to supporters at D-Chowk

Pakistan’s scientist-educationist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy has made an interesting analysis of Imran Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in a Dawn article from last week. First, of course, is Khan’s critique of the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM): “Twisting the arms of crooked PDM politicians will force them into repatriating looted billions and trillions; Pakistan will teach IMF a lesson by refusing to accept any conditionality-based loan; expat PTI voters will shore up the falling rupee by sending home bales stuffed with dollars; Putin is so grateful to Khan for being in Moscow just as the Ukrainian operation started that he will supply Pakistan endless super cheap oil and gas; and millions of Westerners will flock to Pakistan’s tourist havens for spending their wealth there.”

Most enlightening is Hoodbhoy’s view of Khan’s critique of world politics: “Protecting Islam from insult will be the central plank of Pakistan’s foreign policy; France—and the French ambassador to Pakistan—will tremble each time some crazy Parisian goes on a blasphemy binge; bolstering Afghanistan’s Taliban government will become paramount notwithstanding its quiet approval of TTP’s terrorism; and Narendra Modi will receive such stiff tongue lashing that India will quit Kashmir. Indians will finally understand why Khan had Kashmir Highway renamed Srinagar Highway.”

Imran Khan on governance: “There can be only one Great Leader and, as in North Korea, allegiance to him is the highest virtue. Those dissenting with Khan commit ‘shirk,’ says Khan, a view confounding even his closest supporters. All secondary public figures—like former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar—perforce must be diminutive ones. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution providing provinces a measure of fiscal autonomy must be dumped.” Imran Khan on moral revival: “Pakistan’s moral fabric is badly torn with girls immodestly dressed and boys wearing knee-less jeans and inverted baseball caps. Khan took the first step towards changing this in October 2021 when he created an authority tasked with guarding public morality by preventing vice and promoting virtue in a manner that it shall determine.”

Imran khan on education: “As is well-known, Khan is no science buff. Therefore, Pakistani kids will not be stressed with excessive math and science. The stuff is too difficult, not really needed, and must be packaged in readily memorizable morsels digestible by madrassa students. Instead, a hefty dose of Khan’s SNC will make every boy dream of becoming a horse-mounted Ertugrul Ghazi with sword ready in hand. Research into Sufism at Al Qadir University will ‘groom our youth as leaders’.”

Why Imran Khan propounds his world-view the way he does: “Experts of mass psychology say voters exhibit such pathological behavior as Khan’s because their biases, weaknesses, and pre-conditioning are cleverly exploited. People are not rational consumers of information. Instead, they seek swift, reassuring answers and messages. As the redoubtable Julian Huxley hypothesized, the human mind filters out much of reality because handling detailed impressions and received images would be unbearably difficult. Successful leaders massively simplify a complex and confusing world.” No matter what Dr. Hoodbhoy says, what Khan rolls out to the masses as his program is happily swallowed and propounded further. Even some of the well-regarded intellectuals of his party show a deference to him that negates a party’s right to self-criticize. By all signs, they behave as if the final charismatic leader has arrived that Pakistan, hungering for a leader after Quaid-e-Azam, was praying for. Even the spell of his “tasbih,” which fails the ordinary mullah and forces him to ditch it in our day, works wonders and his gatherings swell with a huge number of women swooning with joy in the front row. Is this the final revolution of “ideological” Pakistan?

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