Being a student of history, Imran Khan reminds me of another youthful, handsome, charismatic, foreign educated, anti-american, extremely popular among youth, opportunistic lawyer named Zulfiqar Ali who rose to take the reins of power in 1970s. We all know that story ended in tears. At least he had a new ideology to offer and a much better know-how of governance owing to his stint in the foreign office. The resemblance can't be more pronounced as both of them started their political careers courtesy men in uniform.
2. Policy Matters
Imran Khan recently presented his plan for the first 100 days after PTI form a government. Ending the support of war on terror and fighting corruption, are top of the list. These tasks are easier said than done. War on terror is not just due to presence of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan and the drone attacks; it is much bigger than that. It is the war of ideology between proponents of democratic principles and followers of a particular brand of Islam who want to impose their writ across the world. Asking US to stop the drones and getting out of Afghanistan will do more harm than good. Corruption, as Imran Khan recently pointed out is much more at the top levels of organizations than the other way around and it should definitely be dealt with an iron fist. He wants to create a separate accountability setup to keep check on government employees. It is indeed the need of the hour and a laudable scheme.
3. Team work
Party politics in a parliamentary democracy is team work. Unfortunately, in Pakistan every major political party is in essence a cult. Be it cult of Bhuttos, Sharifs, Maududi, Altaf Husain, Wali khan or Mufti Mahmood.Imran khan and PTI are no exceptions. I heard a PTI worker from Karachi say on a radio show that if something happens to Imran Khan, PTI will be finished. Recently Marvi Memon joined PTI and apart from her and Shireen Mazari, hardly any well known politician is part of the party. Imran Khan cannot contest election on 342 National Assembly seats and if he ever wishes to win an election, he needs a better team than what he has got today. He should learn from mistakes of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who committed the same mistake of not cultivating any other leaders.
It is not easy stifling seasoned politicians without equally astute party members. He needs team members around him who are experienced and have worked in areas of Political Economy, Structural Reform, Fiscal Policy making, Defense, Education, Health, Human Resource Management, Transport Management.
4. Personal life
A lot of dirt has been splashed on Imran Khan due to his colorful past. He still spends his free time in US or UK while criticizing the same states while in Pakistan. In an ideal world, His personal life should be of no concern to us but THIS is Pakistan. He will be reminded day and night about every single adventure he committed before he entered politics. He needs to come clean on his past and try to stay clear from further controversies.
It is no secret that when Imran Khan joined politics, he was backed by powerful people in the establishment. He is openly pro-right wing and despite the thrashing he received at the hands of IJT activists, he has been too close to
Jamaat e Islami while forming opinions on important issues.
He needs to steer clear of the establishment goons and the Mullah brigade in order to be trusted by an ordinary voter. Recent reports in media indicate that establishment is working to change the status quo and Imran Khan will be given a chance to became part of government. Imran Khan should know there is no shortcut to success and that establishment is nobody's friend.
Despite being an eloquent, charismatic speaker, Imran Khan is clearly not a statesman. He need not look further than MA Jinnah or Bhutto to find excellent examples of statesmanship. He should learn when to speak and what to speak.
The likely voters for Imran Khan are males and females aged between 18 and 30, belonging to middle and upper middle class, spending most of their time in front of computer screens, hailing from urban areas (Zohair Toru is the stereotypical PTI supporter). Youth consists of 46% of population of Pakistan, by one estimate. If every single one of them votes for PTI, they can only win half the seats in National Assembly and a big chunk in the provincial assemblies. Imran Khan and PTI need to improve their image, to be taken seriously, for standing any chance of forming a government. They have to mobilize existing workers and recruit new ones. Relying heavily on social media won't be successful in our tribe-based political system.
Dissenting voices are signs of a healthy democracy. Imran Khan is known to think of himself above criticism. Such self righteousness is indicative of autocratic behavior and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto suffered due to similar attitude. You can't always be right and it is wise to accept this fact.
9. Road map
The biggest problems faced by Pakistan right now are not terrorism or corruption rather they are population explosion, too many jobless people, annual growth rate below 5% and cyclic debt leading to load shedding that has crippled our economy. Education and health systems also need emergency treatment. We still have polio in our country, we have only 2-4% of our population who have passed matriculation exam. How exactly does Imran Khan and PTI plan to tackle these monsters is subject to conjecture as they (or for that matter, any other political party) do not have a concrete road map to present us.
10. Plan B(or lack of it)
What If PTI fails to put up a nice show in the next general elections? Imran Khan would just become the next Asghar Khan or as Nusrat Javed said “the next Allama Mashriqi”. He has proven his brilliance on the cricket field and in philanthropy for many years. Maybe Politics is not his thing. He can work for improvement to the Cricket Structure in Pakistan(as he has been criticizing the Domestic Structure over the years) or for development of state of the art projects like Shaukat Khanum Hospital. He can be a mentor and not the protagonist. Till now, there is no Plan B.