An ardent fan of Mozart, the renowned symphony writer and composer, once asked him:

“I am thinking of writing symphonies. Can you give me any suggestions to get started?”

Mozart replied:  “A symphony is a very complex musical form. Perhaps you should begin with simpler lieder and work your way up.”

The admirer, not pleased with the answer, hurriedly jumped in:

But Herr Mozart, you were writing symphonies when you were eight years old!”

“Yes.  But I never asked anybody how.”

Neither did Imran Khan when he started quoting – rather, misquoting – history repeatedly, until he became a master at it.  From  quoting William Dalrymple when he compared Madrassahs in Delhi in early nineteenth century to Oxford and Cambridge, and  equating it to the present day madrassahs of Pakistan at the Ulema Convention,  to the bogus quote accredited to Lord Macaulay on India’s educational system, to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Gandhi – he’s got a lot of historical fabrication to his credit.

So, after years of preparation, in his is most recent venture, he resolved to write an entire article on Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah, the philosophy of history presented by the historiographer who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern socio economics.   Imran Khan endeavoured to apply the length and breadth of the Muqaddimah to the tribulations of present day Pakistan.  The article was published a few days ago and fortunately did not catch much attention in the clamor of the Axact scandal.   Realistically, it appears as if someone wrote a cursory synopsis of Muqaddimah and later on had a light bulb moment and applied it on Pakistan.   I was reminded of  my school days, when some avant-garde I knew, wrote a paragraph on the postman and used it for the English B paper for essays on “My profession of choice”, “My choice of profession”, “My best friend”, “My father”, “An honest man”, “My ideal”, “My  next door neighbour” and a range of other topics.

Long before I mastered the art and science of using a machine to socialize, I grasped the fact that history always tells a story.  So delete it before your dad or kid uses the computer.

Yes I am still very much on the point.  My point is that I yearn to understand Khan Sahib’s point in this article.  I am not a historian. Neither am I a sociologist nor a scholar of economics.  Nothing   close even!  I am a physician with some interest in history and politics, and yes, I am sentimental – thin-skinned   enough to be a poet. Yet, in all sincerity, I have always strived to understand Imran Khan’s obsession with citing references from Islam and history. That is, after years of my personal fascination with Imran Khan whom I saw as a shirtless cricketer in a poster hanging on my wall in my teen tears.  Yes, I confess that I was a typical Pakistani teenager of the eighties.  Thanks to the undeservedly frequent sermons of my devoted dad and my caring mom’s invariable hush, the rebel and the fan inside me died soon.  A few years later I became a Physician, the one who takes the Hippocratic Oath.  He was a very brainy gentleman of his time to say:

“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”

I know that facts are to be known, and to acquire knowledge from, not to opine anything about them. Imran Khan, as a favor to his readers like me, rarely writes. I remember reading his Selective Islam in Pakistan few years ago and then again during the election year.  Whether he is writing Selective Islam in Pakistan, or Naya Pakistan or the latest Ibn Khaldun article, he draws on history as his individual account: a circumstantial narrative that fits his ideology or the lack thereof.  Hence, the reader finds himself puzzled on whether Khan sees himself as a neo-Jinnah or wants to follow the example of Gandhi and his tooth and nail, unforgiving politics.  He is equally divided on the vices and virtues of the Western societal norms and justice system.  In his account of his assimilation to the religion of Islam, Selective Islam, we see him confusing the values of the Eastern culture with the moralities of the religion. Further perplexed is his assertion at times that religion is the axis of morality.  No matter how one defines secularism/ non-righteousness/atheism/non-belief, it’s relativity to rectitude and morality is not that straightforward.

Whereas we see him applauding the society and ‘system’ of the West in the recent Ibn Khaldun article, it is essentially opposite to his previous writings on the subject where he bestows  the West with his trifling criticism of materialism,  crime rate,  racism, the “fear of getting old”, plastic surgery,  old  peoples’  homes,  etc.  Khan paints an all-negative picture as he talks about divorce rate in the West, the joint family system in the East and its security blanket.   And few years later, the same Imran Khan verbosely eulogizes the justice system, educational standards and human rights practiced in the West.  Yet, while commending the “Scandinavian countries”, he conveniently upholds his biases for the torch-bearer of liberty, the US, untouched and preserved.

I do know people and ideas evolve with time. They should. I value the leaders who adhere to their principles rather than their whims. So is Imran Khan’s changing views the sign of a leader’s growth? I doubt that, because I see too many U-turns in his elucidation and manipulation of historical references – unfortunately, as many U-turns as in his politics. I might have accept this as a learning curve only if he had gained a better grasp of history and Islam, and an equitable application of the two into his politics. The former is his choice as long as it does not impinge on others. The latter is a requisition that I seek from a leader of a major political party.

Otherwise, a few hundred years from today, let us assume we will have historians who will write the history of our contemporary world, and let us assume that they will have nothing better to write about than the “causes of the fall of Imran Khan”, they will write that the first and foremost cause of the beginning of his end was his irrepressible aspiration to quote history – untimely, erroneously and in complete contradiction to his own  preceding account.

Winston Churchill rightly said:

 "There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech:  climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you."

Allow me to add here that writing an article on the Muqaddimah, is the third most difficult thing for some – like you and me, Khan Sahib!