Imran, Altaf, PIA and Pakistan Politics

Posted on June 15, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

Flying in from London to Islamabad, I bumped into Imran Khan on the plane. There he was, sitting a couple of rows ahead of me, reading The News, with his own picture on its front page (meeting Nawaz Sharif in London). I had not yet seen the paper, nor followed that days events in London (I was flying in from Amsterdam where I had been in meetings all day). We exchanged a few pleasantries, said nice things about what we had been up to since we had last met in Chicago just about a year ago (I had reported in detail on that here).

I must say, I did not fully grasp everything he said until later after I landed in Islamabad and first saw his supporters and TV cameras lined up at the airport, and then every news channel covering his press conference in London, and its political implications. In our short conversation he pretty much covered the exact same points I saw him presenting on TV,with pretty much the same passion. I guess he had come fresh from the press conference. Since all of that is now in the news already, I will not repeat it. The one thing I did ask him about were rumors about his ‘patch up’ with the MQM leading to the lifting of the ban on his entry into Sindh. Readers would remember those rumors surfacing everywhere, including on ATP, a few days ago. He shrugged those away as nonsense and just rumors.

My own sense from this very brief discussion chat was that:

(a) he does seem very serious abut taking on MQM Chief Altaf Hussain,
(b) that he fully realizes the seriousness of what he is doing, and
(c) he seems to be doing this out of personal conviction much more than political opportunism.

I may turn out to be wrong, but my first impression was that the earnestness with which he spoke about what he was doing and why that cannot be easily faked. This, then, seems not to be a story that will fizzle away easily. Not if Imran can help it.

If this is, in fact, so then Pakistan politics will continue to become even more interesting than it already is. ‘Party’ politics may just come back into limelight, but not ways one had expected. If indeed there are to be elections in Pakistan soon then the impact of this tussle could go well beyond defining what happens to just Imran Khan and the MQM.

By the way, as it turned out it was an interesting PIA fight to be on. Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao boarded soon after me. As did Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan (returning, I believe from the WTO meeting in Geneva). They both greeted Imran graciously, and briefly, and then then nearly all of us made the best of the overnight flight by going off to sleep. Of course, I first watched the ‘Tribute to a Legend’ show on Pakistani filmstar Muhammad Ali on the PIA channel.

P.S. In case you wonder, no, I did not speak to either of the Ministers. I do not know either of them, and would not have known what to say anyhow, especially if either of them had seen my own most recent musings on the political happenings in Pakistan.

115 responses to “Imran, Altaf, PIA and Pakistan Politics”

  1. MURKERJI. says:

    well i agree that imran khan has the fundamental support from the most well organised student fedartion of pakistan, the leftist NATIONAL SUTDENT FEDERTION, NSF, which is unlike the pro-US congress in india these days.

  2. mafzal says:

    well guess who was the adviosr to za bhutto it was mr mejraj mohammad khan and he was also the founder of both the old PPP and PTI of imran khan and also imran khan still has strong support from the nationalstic/leftist NATIONAL STUDENT FEDARTION just like za bhutto who breaway from the NSF and created his own faction CALLED PSF but khan is not doing that even he is more leftist the za bhutto in his gereal anti-american socalism.

  3. mafzal says:

    well mr khan is the only succsor to bhutooism now becsue the pakistan pp factions have come under us imperalism now just look at them they r part of the liberal/capitalist estabilshment nowdays hahhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa.

  4. peter henych says:

    MQM believes in one God and that is Altaf bhai and Musharraf is his prophet according to them.

  5. RaziRub says:

    Well so the great Khan wants to rid the UK of a terrorist by having Altaf tried in a British court and deported to Pakistan. A most laudible intention one would think. Slight problem though,given that to try and get a conviction on a charge as serious as terrorism, Khan will have to provide overwhelming evidence of Altaf’s involvement in acts of terror as understood by a British court. Violent phaddas between rival groups are a part and parcel of Pakistani politics and sadly will not count. Every political party and every political leader in Pakistan has, at some stage of their political career, engaged in such acts and if Khan’s definition of terrorism was taken at face value (highly unlikely under the British judicial system) then every Pakistani politician would qualify to be a terrorist and every Pakistani political party would have to be banned as a terrorist organisation.

    No guys, i am afraid this all boils down the the one conclusion that almost every Karachiite i have spoken to has come to. This has nothing do with terrorism. After all whilst Khan has been in London the Lal Masjid operation has been taking place and terrorists have been threatening the very soul of Pakistan as a viable state. Did Mr. Khan come out and utter one word of condemnation?? sadly not. No, Khan has yet again shown, as have all the other assorted failed politicians and political parties who are using Khan as their stooge, that they simply refuse the accept the mandate given to the MQM by the Urdu speaking people of urban Sindh. Thats what it boils down to guys. Had Altaf cut a deal with this failed lot and sold his constituents down the river, as all the other failed lot have so regularly done over the past 60 years of Pakistan’s existence, there would not be a problem. Altaf would have been invited as a VIP guest in that APC in London (what a comedy of errors that was guys!!), he would have no doubt sat right next to Mian Nawaz Sharif, made to sign that worthless, joke peice of paper that all the others so shamelessly signed and all would be well.

    Come on Khan, be honest for a change. You just hate the Urdu speakers (as do the other failed lot) and you want nothing better then to see their leader hung, draw and quartered and the Urdu speakers trampled upon just for their sin of not agreeing with your “lota

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