Imran Khan has come a long way since he began his political journey in 1996. As a cricket legend who failed to impress the public, most people at the time would say politics was not his cup of tea. He turned to writing columns on cricket and then worked as a commentator for some TV channels. But there was something that brought him back to politics. The lure of doing something greater in life perhaps kept him going. At last, his dream has come true as he is likely to become the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.
It was 30th October, 2011 when his big rally in Lahore served as the jumping pad for him in politics. He then began his journey of the politics of agitation.
In the run up to general elections he, however, gave up his traditional style of politics and adopted all the tactics that he had once criticised. He got into his fold influential and powerful politicians from other parties and managed to create an atmosphere where people started to believe that he would be the next prime minister of Pakistan. Panama scam and its impact on Sharif family helped him get the field to play.
They say everything is fair in love and war. He thought he was waging a political war and boldly said what many considered to be misbehaviour, especially when he addressed Indian Prime Minister Modi and other politicians in his rallies. His first speech after winning the election showed that he was mature enough to understand that the era of agitation was over and that soon he would have the responsibility of running the country.
The speech at Bani Gala was more like a statesman than a politician. He buried the rumours that he would start victimising his political opponents relentlessly. He vowed not to indulge in political victimisation. This is a good sign for the politics of Pakistan since political turbulence is not good for the stability of country.
Another significant part of his speech besides building human resources capital, spreading education and providing better health services was about the much needed new foreign policy of Pakistan. The world has changed in the last one decade and countries across the globe have chosen strong leadership to represent them. Be it USA, China, Russia, India, Iran or Saudi Arabia, all the leaders of these countries have proved to be men of strong nerves and acumen. Imran Khan would now be the new strong face of Pakistan for the world.
Khan talked about the need for building good relations with USA that would be beneficial for both countries instead of the relationship we had in the war on terror. His offer of building close relations with Afghanistan is also a good sign.
Khan was disappointed with the Indian media which had criticised him a lot for the last three days before the election. He was often seen in rallies speaking against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He dispelled the impression that his government would not have good relations with India. His words, that if you move one step towards us we would move two steps, were quite meaningful. The scribe is of the firm belief that relations with India would improve in the coming months. One of the main reasons is a fact that Modi’s policies have not delivered much for India. The Indians go to polls next year and Modi needs support of the moderate and liberal elements as well to win the next election. He could emerge as India’s hero if he manages to make a breakthrough in better relations with the new government in Pakistan and especially on talks about Kashmir.
About relations with China, he said he would try to find out how the Chinese managed to end poverty in their country. He said he would like to adopt the same methods in Pakistan to end poverty. He welcomed the CPEC project that is likely to be the game changer for economic prosperity of Pakistan. Khan’s government would be closest to China.
The real test for Khan would be how to set the economy back on the track. For this, he vowed to balance Pakistan’s trade with other countries and end the deficit. He promised to improve the cost of doing business and the way of doing business so that the Pakistanis living abroad may invest in their home country.
This all can be done if Khan is able to end the trust deficit that does not allow investment in Pakistan. He will have to live up to his promise of adopting the austerity measures. He will have to either stay in Bani Gala or live in some government lodge and not in the Prime Minister House as he promised. The lavish Prime Minister House could be turned into a hotel to bring in some revenue. As per his proposal, governor houses in all four provinces could also be turned into hotels to generate revenue.
The prime minister-to-be must keep in mind that he has given too much hope to the people and would have to live up to their great expectations to become a statesman.
n The writer is a member of staff.