Bilal Khan is a Lahore, Pakistan based entrepreneur, business consultant and a freelance writer. He can be contacted at bk[at]easternwanderer.com.
Dr. Shireen Mazari is a prominent geo-strategist and analyst based in Pakistan. She is the former head of the Institute of Strategic Studies based in Islamabad, a government think tank. She has also been associated with leading periodicals of the country such as The News and The Nation newspapers. She was also responsible for breaking this news to the Pakistani audience that Blackwater (now known as Xe) was present in the country. She is a well-known critic of Pakistani foreign policy, as well as widely seen as a fiercely anti-American activist in Pakistan. She has been criticizing US drone invasions in Pakistan, and US military and military-contractor presence within the country. She remains as an outspoken foreign affairs analyst of the country who continues to strongly oppose the current dynamics of US-Pakistan relations.
Shireen Mazari joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Imran Khan‘s personal invitation in November 2008. There were reports of her discomfort with the party’s leadership especially with Imran Khan’s policies since Imran Khan’s mammoth procession in Lahore on October 30th, 2011. She represented the silent faction of the party’s old members who were feeling very uneasy with the joining of numerous so-called “successful”, dynastic and professional, politicians ever since Imran Khan’s rise as a political force. This faction within the party had concerns over the real motives and intentions of the people who joined the party. Imran Khan reasoned that the party was a political one and anyone who wishes to join the party can join it. However, as people within, and outside, the party clearly witnessed that Imran Khan was fast adopting a “change”, but not the change he so fondly talk of in his political speeches. He was increasingly being surrounded by opportunistic people, the man would now travel in a bullet proof cruiser, and use a private helicopter borrowed from a feudal lord and politician who joined the party abandoning Pakistan Muslim League-Q.
The rank and file of the party now saw Imran Khan beyond their access, and that the new and “experienced” party members have the ears of Imran Khan. They also saw with concern Imran Khan’s growing softness and silence over the atrocities of a political party based in Karachi, and controlled from London. The party’s Balochistan office and its members also faced restlessness because of Khan’s continued negligence of the province already aggrieved by rest of the ruling class of the country. Party followers saw with grave concern that Imran Khan was developing a discreet affection for the super power, and its presence in the region until it came down to the point that Cameron Munter, the former US ambassador in Islamabad, said in his outgoing statement to the media that Imran Khan, and Nawaz Sharif, two prominent opposition party leaders of the country are actually pro-American and not anti-American as they would want their fellow countrymen to believe.
In a country rife with anti-Americanism, showing public displays of opposition to the super power is perhaps the only politically correct discourse but perhaps it is not pragmatic to really oppose the United States when it is arguably the most important power broker in the country.
Some say that Imran Khan has announced Waziristan Peace March, expected to travel to South Waziristan from Islamabad on October 6, 2012, to counter the influence of the statement by Cameron Munter from the minds of the populace. However, Imran Khan’s acceptance of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s invitation to his rally in Rawalpindi really disappointed many of Khan’s followers. Many within the party asked him not to accept the invitation, however, Khan did accept and went to the procession.
Many people argue that Shireen Mazari actually wanted a prominent party position, and assurance of party nomination in the upcoming elections. But most likely, the fact of the matter is that Shireen Mazari’s tussle with traditional politicians within the party especially Jahangir Tareen and her open criticism of Imran Khan’s policies resulted in her resignation. Shireen Mazari is not just one, but perhaps the most important, party member that has left the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in recent weeks rather this is an ongoing trend. When asked about people leaving his party, Khan would often say that these are opportunistic people who are disappointed by our decline of providing them assurance of party position and election nomination. However, surely Imran Khan cannot say this about Shireen Mazari, but who knows, Imran Khan has been retracting on his statements one after another. Imran Khan once said in a television show that Shireen Mazari was not an opportunist.
The problem with Imran Khan is not that he makes mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, the problem with him is that he does not accept his mistakes. A true leader considers himself a human first, not beyond making mistakes and is always open to criticism. A true leader also turns his mistakes, threats and weaknesses into opportunities. How much he will be able to turn his blunders into opportunities remains to be seen. The type of stubborn and dictator within he is known to be, it is hardly worth hoping for. Imran Khan has largely thrived on the success and persona of his yester years as a cricketing heart throb, but his followers should remain on guard on to whom they plan to pass on the mantle of governing the country.
For many people, who do not follow Imran Khan blindly and who are not deluded by his former playboy and heart throb persona, it was his voicing of people’s sentiments that made him a viable political option. For them, it were people like Javed Hashmi, Shireen Mazari and Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed that brought reason and likability to the party. Imran Khan might still be successful in elections, but without people like Shireen Mazari and Justice Wajihuddin, he may never truly represent the people of Pakistan.