Cover Story

Legacy of Hope

The corrupt opposition got the better of an honest Imran Khan.

By Justice M. Shaiq Usmani | May 2022

When Imran Khan, after winning the World Cup in 1992, came back to Pakistan, the country was being governed by Imran Khan’s latter day nemesis, Nawaz Sharif. He governed Pakistan as his fiefdom and there appeared to be no prospects for change. Imran then launched his Shaukat Khanam Cancer Hospital project because of the goodwill that he had been able to generate amongst the people and the credibility that he had earned and the money just poured in. At the same time, the social media that had just started blossoming became abuzz with Imran Khan’s exploits and his statements about him wanting to do something for the country.

It took some time before he launched his party, appropriately named as Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice). Initially, he attracted a number of people to his party who were looking for someone with charisma and a reputation for incorruptibility, who could set things right in the country. Those that he attracted in the initial years were mostly retired government servants, senior armed forces officers, lawyers and intellectuals. Their general impression was that even though Imran, while being at Oxford may have spent more time on the playing field than in the library and thus lacked intellect, he was still a good man and a doer. These stalwarts who joined Imran initially ignored his penchant for projecting himself and for being convinced that he was the best, even though these traits of his were by now well known because of his famous remark upon wining the World Cup viz. “I won the Cup”. These stalwarts wanted to give him the benefit of doubt and thus took these remarks to be a mere aberration.

Launching of the party did not make much impact on the political scene and the event went unnoticed. Consequently, when he contested the first General Election in 2002, he won only one seat, that too, his own. One of the reasons why he did not succeed as per his expectations was that he had no money. But then his expatriate friends abroad, mostly in the UK and USA, came to his assistance and managed to use their expertise in the management of finances to transfer a great deal of funds. Then, to his good fortune, Jehangir Tarin with his vast resources and a private aeroplane to boot, fell under his spell and Imran was launched literally as his ability to travel within the country was greatly enhanced due to availability of a private plane.

It is at this time that the Panama Leaks took the third world countries by storm. The matter of money laundering and accumulation of foreign funds by the Sharif family was brought to the forefront. With the instinct of a hound Imran went for the jugular of the Sharif empire and was on a container, for days on end. His speeches from the container, though often abrasive and even iconoclastic in so far as political hierarchy was concerned, were nevertheless inspiring to the younger population in the middle and lower middle-class bracket.

However, in spite of all his eloquence, these speeches were not sufficient for him to be put in the driving seat. Then, suddenly, he was noticed by the Establishment because of his clean record and lack of any previous connection with the political families of Pakistan and also because in him they saw the opportunity to counter the pusillanimous approach of Nawaz Sharif towards India. This was obviously for the reason that being a businessman Sharif thought it was good for business to be at peace with India and to lower the temperature on the border, including that of Kashmir.

Having thus been noticed, the Establishment lent their full support to Imran from behind the scenes and ignored the reigning Sharifs. It is in this scenario that the 2018 General Elections were held when the electables were brought to the round-table of Imran, who gleefully grabbed the opportunity but, in doing that, he lost the support of earlier stalwarts who were his genuine, sincere and capable supporters but now felt ignored. It is thus that Imran was launched on the political scene of Pakistan.

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