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Double click: Politician or populist?

November 04, 2012

Last weekend, Pakistan again headlined the media in Canada.

Imran Khan’s turbulent 24-hour visit to Toronto — where he gave a Press conference, appeared at a fundraiser and sat for several interviews — was covered extensively by journalists who of course maximised the occasion to bring up Pakistan’s veiled love of Talibanisation.

In the bargain, they got even more reason to pontificate when Imran was escorted off an American Airlines flight to the US by border officials who allegedly questioned him about ‘his views on the US administration’s use of drone warfare.’ He was allowed to board the plane after two-hours when the State Department acknowledged Imran Khan’s detention by a brief statement that said, “The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States." But he had missed his flight by then and subsequently, the fundraiser in New York. However a little controversy never hurts anyone in gaining momentum for their cause, so it probably worked out well for him.

Analysing his politics, reporters and columnists from The Toronto Star, CBC, the Globe and Mail among others added the supposition that he could well be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. Frankly, so much focus on Imran Khan was a bit astonishing.

Surprisingly though, the Toronto visit has been somewhat of a revelation, where his political idealism has made him look like Pakistan’s last hope.

In The Star, reporter Michelle Shephard wrote, “He is definitely one of the country’s most intriguing (man)… he carries an impressive list of conflicting nicknames wherever he goes: ‘Lion of Lahore’ or ‘Taliban Khan’; playboy or hardline Islamist; ‘Im the Dim’ or brilliant populist; politically naïve or Pakistan’s next prime minister.”

On the CBC TV interview however, it was tough talk.

Inflammatory questions were hurled in rapid succession by interviewer Evan Solomon on his Jihad views; the legitimising and justifying of Taliban actions and his bloodthirsty desire of shooting down the US drones if ever he would be Prime Minister. At first the replies came fumbling, somewhat jerky and jumbled. But after according him a few minutes’ patient hearing, I realised that it was not all fluff as I had expected. Underneath the undiplomatic rhetoric, there does lie some form of strategy for Pakistan’s future.