I have wondered about Imran Khan. In that post, I quipped that he flirted with mullahs for five seconds. Since that post, Khan has garnered a lot of attention for his "role" in the Newsweek-Qur'an story [aside: I must admit that I was amiss in my reading of the protests in that post. I failed to note that the Qur'an story was just a late fuel on an otherwise burning fire. The increasing hostilities in Afghanistan and their tensions with Pakistan point to that.] and accusations that his "flirting" is more than that and that he is a new strain of militant Islam. Newsweek, and others, pointed that it was Imran Khan who lit the spark leading to riots etc. and that he did so for his own political purposes.
Since then, the international media has decided to take a closer look at Imran Khan. In a WaPo piece, John Lancaster describes the evolution of the playboy cricketer into a political player. In the piece Khan credits a Lahori mystic for his awakening to the public cause. To the critique of opportunism in his alliance with MMA, he responds that it is all to keep the heat on The General. The Daily Times lashed out pretty harshly against the story - branding him a man crazed by mystics and used by mullahs.
In a recent interview with AFP's Danny Kemp, Imran Khan responded to the accusation that it was his role in the Newsweek story that caused violence:
I must admit that I am still ambivalent about him. If he has spirituality or a sufi guide, that does not make him a toady for Fazlur Rahman. In fact, Rahman would frown mightily upon such mystical guidance. The key graf is later in the same story:
Imran Khan may or may not be an opportunist. If he is, he is really bad at it. His spirituality is also his business. He remains, on the balance, a marginal figure. What does matter is that he is someone who continues to get headlines for criticizing The General. That puts him in my good book. Maybe my judgment is clouded because I am sympathetic to his social causes as well. Perhaps his calls against The General are self-serving and whatnot. I don't care. My contention is for the lack of democracy in Pakistan - not for uniquely honest politicians.
C'mon - are you really ambivalent about a man who voted for "Maulana" Fazlur Rehman for PM?
Zia: From the WaPo piece: "It wasn't a vote for Fazlur Rehman," Khan said of his support for the cleric. "It was a vote against Musharraf." I re-draw your attention to my concluding paragraph.
Regardless. A vote for Amin Fahim would have been a vote against Musharraf too.
Related opinion piece in the Daily Times.
In fact the PPPP candidate for PM was the very eloquent Shah Mehmood Qureshi... But I agree, a vote for him would've been a vote against Musharraf too...
Zia & Umar: I concede your point.
I was stuck in Nathiagali one weekend, while he had a flaming argument with the PPP's Sherry Rehman. It was...an experience. He's unarguably eloquent by the way, surprisingly so. The problem is that he doesn't really generate enough of a personality option for one to take him seriously. Maybe that was just me though, since cricket does nothing for me whatsoever.
I think the PPP is one of his pet peeves... in fact the pet peeve... he finds no problem in flirting with military dictators (Zia and Musharraf) and parties on the right of the political spectrum (The various PML factions and the MMA), but there's something about the PPP that he finds hard to swallow...
Sepoy, I dont believe the last few lines starting "... What does matter...." are yours.