Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shine on Imran Khan: Hats off to PTI supporters

I’ve always respected Imran Khan’s reputation as a cricketer, humanitarian and play boy. As a politician, I’ve always thought he was a bit of a fail. That changed tonight. 

Imran Khan has arrived – with a bang.

In a dramatic show of force, Imran Khan gathered more than 100,000 supporters at a rally in Lahore.  His show of strength was meant to send a clear message: “Those in Raiwind and Islamabad should know that it is not a flood that is coming, but a tsunami.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this rally wasn’t Imran Khan but his supporters.

Street power in Pakistan has been monopolized by chest thumping, bearded young men in the recent past. Imran Khan has managed to show a different side to Pakistan. Women thronged Imran Khan’s rally in colorful Shalwar Kameez, some even brought their young children along. There was no flag burning or violence at this rally; instead there was music. The traditionally unresponsive elite class came out in strong numbers to participate in this political rally.

This is a remarkable achievement for Imran Khan. 

To be fair, Imran still has a long way to go. His politicking is high on rhetoric and short on substance (he needs to unveil a specific policy agenda rather than campaign on sweeping promises). 

However, it’s very important to take a moment to give Imran Khan and his supporters credit where it’s due. 

Imran Khan may or may not win the 2013 elections but as a country, Pakistan will certainly win from the momentum and energy that his campaign will bring to the elections. 

This is good news for all Pakistanis regardless of our political affiliation. And PTI supporters deserve a pat on the back for making this happen, despite all the odds.

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