Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Imran Khan - Ever the Lone Ranger

Interesting interview with Imran Khan in the Sunday Observer. The piece captures Imran's essential persona; fiercely independent, consistently principled and completely committed but a little self-righteous and indeed somewhat politically naive.

It has to be said that, despite his muddle-headed 'spirituality' that sometimes brings him close to despicable elements like the Jamaat-e-Islami, his ideas for Pakistan's political system are fundamentally sound. He is most insistent on an independent judiciary, election commission and accountability bureau; all institutions whose strengthening is critical for Pakistan's democratic advancement. Despite his early support for Musharraf, he is now vehemently opposed to military's role in government. In Pakistan, there is almost no disagreement in thinking circles now that as long as military remains the dominant force on the Pakistani political scene, democracy has little chance of taking root.

Imran's instincts in the arena of foreign policy are reflexively anti-western and many times flawed. Of course, there is plenty wrong with Musharraf's self-preserving genuflection to the West and a harder Pakistani line toward the west if it is in its national interest (such as free trade agreements, opposition to the roughshod execution of the 'war on terror' etc.) is entirely appropriate. However, Imran's public utterances extolling local virtues and criticisms of 'kala sahibs' seem to me a raw reflection of his personal evolution from a playboy to a politician and not any well thought out views about the virtuous life or a hard-headed understanding of foreign policy goals and objectives.

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