Unscathed emergence of 1992 hero
Allama Iqbal (The poet of the east) says,
parwaz hai donoun ki isi ek fiza main
Kargas ka jahan aur Shaheen ka jahan aur
“The flight of both birds is in the same atmosphere but the world of vulture is different from the world of shaheen.”
The mild memories of a windy and flailing dark evening of mid march 1996 when the sky was grey curdled and the clouds resolved themselves into little lumps, like substandard mattress-stuffing are still afresh in my mind when Ranatunga’s Sri Lanka was playing against Steve Waugh’s mighty Australia under the floodlights in a world cup final at the historic Gaddafi Stadium Lahore. It was just a little cold too. I was a kid that time and during those colourful days flying kites was my passion. One such day I saw my uncle, whom I call ‘Baba’ because he is like a fatherly figure to me, facing river Kishenganga or Neelum that divides India and Pakistan, a division that we have won and lost. Intently gazing at the other side of Kashmir, craned semi black Philip Jawan transistor to his ears, clasped in left while adjusting the tune in switch with right hand to get the better and clear version of Radio commentary. I held my breath and sped towards him. “Baba, what are you upto.?”, I questioned. “Sri Lanka is going to win this world cup final and Arvinda De Silva is playing the innings of his life”, he replied in a gleeful tone. I did not even know either of the teams and moreover I had a very temperate knowledge of cricket because of my age. I allowed the silence to take it’s toll, but then I asked a very relevant question to Baba. “How many times does Pakistan cricket team have won a world cup?”
“Just one! in 1992 under the dynamic leadership of Imran Khan”,reply came. At the very moment the name ‘Imran’ struck on my mind like a deadly throw at the stumps that ran the batsman out. It was from there I enormously admire him as a very competitive cricketer and as a great leader and my hero who left impeccable footprints in the field of cricket that eventually made me a huge fan of him. It was since then my interest for the gentleman’s game grew.
Born only five years after Pakistan was created and oxford-educated Imran had an illustrious career in international cricket spanning two decades from the 1970s until 1992 when his cornered tigers stunned its former colonial power, England, a quarter century ago at Melbourne and recently led his political party to an equally impressive victory in Pakistan’s national elections. In the history of cricket Imran is still regarded as one of the brutal, aggressive and greatest cricketing all-rounder alongside Sir Ian Botham and Kapil Dev who recently extended their praise in his favour on his win in the general elections.
In a country marred by corruption and troubled as Pakistan, a new, charismatic leader is bound to raise hopes. He has long been one of Pakistan’s best-known faces internationally. He spent years on the political sidelines. Imran 65, struggled for years to turn popular support into electoral gains. He launched his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996 but he was the only candidate in the party to win a seat in 2002. PTI boycotted the elections in 2008. It took until the last general election in 2013 for his party to emerge as a serious player, when it narrowly missed becoming the second largest party nationally. But he never gave up, faced humiliations, hurdles and sacrifices, five years later he finally claimed victory as Prime Minister in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed Islamic republic and a potential flashpoint because of its rocky relations with India and Afghanistan.
In 1995, at the age of 43, he married the 21-year-old British socialite, Jemima Goldsmith – the daughter of one of the world’s richest men at the time, Sir James Goldsmith. The marriage produced two boys but was dissolved in 2004. The split was amicable and Imran appears to have maintained a friendly relationship with his ex-wife.The victory tweet from Jemima is a witness to that.
A second marriage in 2015, to journalist Reham Khan, lasted for less than a year then Khan wed again in 2018 to Bushra Watto, described as his spiritual adviser, in a low-profile ceremony in Lahore.
He upholds liberalism but at the same time appeals to Islamic values and anti-West sentiment, especially when it comes to perceived interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs. He campaigned vocally against US drone strikes against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas as part of the “War on Terror”. But it’s his campaign against corruption and dynastic politics in Pakistan, and a promise to raise a whole new class of “clean” politicians, that seems to have chimed with his supporters. Imran always talked about a cultural, intellectual and morally renaissance in Pakistan so that his nation be able to create societies and communities that are educated and enlightened, just, compassionate, forward looking and life affirming. Imran rebelled against all forms of tyranny, be it religious, political, cultural, intellectual, economic or any other. He believes that the more you challenge yourself the more you discover greater reasons of strength within you and his 25 years of struggle is a vivid testimony to that plus there are no shortcuts to achieving big dreams. There is a whole struggle a person has to go through to reach the top in any profession.
It is aprops to mention here that his victory in the recent elections is somehow related to a Chinese bamboo about which is said that when the bamboo seed is planted, you don’t see anything for approximately five years, other than a tiny shoot. All of its growth happens underground; a complex root system that extends vertically and horizontally in the earth begins to form.
At the end of the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo grows until it is approximately 25 meters tall. Many things in life, personal and professional, are like the Chinese bamboo. You work, invest time, energy, do everything possible to nurture your growth and, sometimes, you don’t see anything for weeks, months or even years. But if you have the patience to keep working, to keep persisting and nurturing, your fifth year will arrive and with it will come changes that you had not even dreamed of. He finally has his day after years of travail and he tremendously worked hard for this.
Cricket is a game where you need leadership on the pitch, no other sport gives you so much of a role to the captain as in cricket and Imran has beautifully played that role. He is someone whom we can call a ‘daring leader’ because a leader who lacks courage can never command respect and hence never inspire his team. Most crucially,a leader needs courage to take the big decisions and big decisions always carry big risks.Great leaders always have the ability to resist pressure and make policies according to their vision rather than fear because fear is something that makes a dream impossible to achieve. Allama Iqbal says, “the punishment for the crime of cowardice is death,” but Imran’s grit, determination, tenacity and perseverance has proved that he is just indomitable and after one goal has been achieved there are always more to conquer.
At present Pakistan’s woes are many and grave. Corruption runs deep — the last elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif has been jailed. The national debt is ballooning, breakdown in infrastructure, shortage of electricity and gas is still a major challenge and jobs are so scarce that Pakistani workers are compelled to fan out across the Middle East to take whatever work they can find. Terrorism is yet to be uprooted completely, relations with the United States are precarious and politics are chronically unstable.Those he listed in his victory address were a catalog of what urgently needs to be done.
The main nucleus of his one hour nine minute prime ministerial address which in other words was a statesmanship’s address is to reform Pakistan’s woeful governance and to put an end to the patronage networks that have facilitated widespread graft. He however pledges to create an Islamic welfare state to raise up the poor because Imran strongly believes in an Islamic Pakistan where democracy has to be based on meritocracy. For him justice, compassion, welfare and equality along with democracy are the heart of Islam. Kaptaan also favours in an egalitarian ,democratic and ethical ideals of Islam, that he believed had inspired the creation of Pakistan.
Imran also laid stress on economic development, foriegn direct investment, money laundering which is undoubtedly a grave concern because most of his country’s black money is stashed in overseas banking and he made it clear and loud that he would crusade against this. He also talked about the fixation of some grave issues would be his priority, like progressive taxation, human development, poor health care system, rule of law, litigation in handling public cases at the lowest level, child abuse, trade gap, abolition of VIP culture, bringing reforms and transparency in educational system, effective use of water management, innovation in agriculture system, introduction of ‘whistle blow’ system at the pattern of KP government in Pakistan. About foreign affairs, Khan said he would seek to improve relations with the United States, whose policies in the region he has fiercely criticized. He also thought of creating a nexus between Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to strengthen the ties in a more cogent and reliable way. Imran also pledged to seek an end to the territorial dispute with India over Kashmir, which has long set the neighbours at loggerheads, and to improve relations with China, Pakistan’s major creditor. Indisputably charming and charismatic, Khan offers a chance of change, however remote, for a country in dire need of it.
In summation challenges are many but there is a right team to face those and the real battle has just begun for Kaptaan. After reaching at this stage IK must think that why he entered politics in the first instance because the people of Pakistan have expectations from him and are hoping for a better and prosperous future. Let us be optimistic, that he transforms current Pakistan to a new Pakistan or Jinnah’s Pakistan which has been since long his party’s motto and will steer Pakistan towards a genuine democracy because any degree of success would benefit not only the Pakistanis, but also their neighbours and creditors.
As Iqbal rightly said, “other worlds exist beyond the star’s,
More tests of love are still to come.”
I wish Kaptaan good luck on his
Author lives in Keran Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, works in Revenue Department.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.