Imran Khan is making waves in Pakistan these days. Once written off as a man of no consequence in Pakistan’s political arena, hamstrung by what Anatol Lieven describes as an inability to distribute largesse, Khan has managed to draw over 100,000 people to an anti-corruption rally in Karachi
Khan had achieved a similar feat in Lahore in October 2011 and the repeat performance has confirmed that Khan has arrived on the political scene.
Recently I had read Khan’s book “Pakistan: A Personal History” where Khan mentions an anecdote which describes his personality well. Apparently when Khan was four years old, his cousins took him to a swimming pool at the Aitchison College in Lahore. Khan was seeing people swim for the first time and ‘could see that people seemed to be moving around near the surface of the water so I decided it must be quite shallow and promptly threw off my clothes and jumped straight in. I immediately sank to the bottom. After swallowing a lot of water, I was taught by my cousins to swim within a few days.’ Based on this experience, Khan says that, ‘Politics was a similar experience, though the learning process was much longer. I had nobody to teach me, no mentors and made many mistakes.’
Has Khan learnt to play politics just as he learnt to swim? We’ll find out when the next general elections are held in 2013. However, it cannot be denied that currently Imran Khan’s political views – negotiating with the Taliban and ending drone strikes – coincides with the views of Pakistan’s all powerful army.