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Kaptaan Was Different: My Journey From Being A PTI Fan To A Critic

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Ahmed Naveed writes about how Imran Khan has taken positions that are opposed to the vision he had portrayed before the elections of 2018.

In May 2013, I was a freshman at LUMS pursuing my Bachelor’s degree. Like most other students, I was a PTI fan. When the elections were near, I used to walk to T-block in Lahore every night with my friends holding a PTI flag and chanting slogans like ‘dekho dekho kon aya sher ka shikari aya’.

The entire Lalik Chowk area used to be flooded with PML-N and PTI supporters holding banners, flags and posters. On one spot, you could see a bunch of young PTI and PML-N supporters arguing with each other and engaging in their typical Lahori juggatbaazi, all in fun. In another spot, you could see people dancing to loud music. The sight was amazing, especially for someone like me who had never seen such a fun and peaceful form of campaigning in Karachi, where I hail from. I cannot even imagine hundreds of PPP and MQM supporters campaigning face to face on the streets of Karachi without resorting to any kind of violence.

That was the time when I believed Imran Khan was our savior. He was no less than a messiah who had finally arrived to rid Pakistan of all its problems. We as a nation had questions and he had answers. Everything that he said was spot-on.

When Zardari or Nawaz Sharif said something at public gatherings I hardly cared, but whenever Kaptaan spoke I used to listen carefully. He knew exactly what was wrong with Pakistan and how to fix it. He was the force against the status quo. He gave us hope and this is exactly where the problem with Imran Khan begins. He gave us ‘too much’ hope.

One might argue that every leader does that. Giving hope and making promises is exactly what a leader is supposed to do. But Imran Khan was different. He was not just another typical politician. His name is Khan and he is not a Zardari or Sharif. He promised us a ‘Naya Pakistan’. When he said something, we believed in it, at least I did. Probably Khan himself did not realize that he is taking the expectations of this nation to a whole another level and things might change when he actually comes into power.

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But how long is one supposed to justify Khan? At exactly what point do we start saying that Khan might not be the messiah we believe he is? I did not support Khan because he was a star cricketer who brought the trophy home but because I liked his ideas about politics and governance. His U-turn on more or less every issue has almost completely changed his political ideology.

Khan roasted Shahbaz Sharif for spending too much on development projects instead of education and health. What about the state of health and the ghost schools in KPK or BRT Peshawar?

Khan has time and again explicitly stated that the army and intelligence agencies have been active in politics and have proved to be detrimental to our democracy. Where are his similar statements now when the militabilishment is still deeply involved in our politics? Why is a former spymaster his interior minister?

Khan presented Asad Umar as the answer to all the financial woes of Pakistan. Why did he remove him then? Khan said that Pakistan should focus on science and technology. What makes Fawad Chaudary the right choice as the minister for Science and Technology? Khan said that not a single corrupt person would be a part of his team. Why is JKT invited to the cabinet meetings? He assured an end to political interference in bureaucracy. Why have so many changes been made in Punjab’s bureaucracy in the past twelve months?

The prime minister also stated that anyone who misused their authority would be punished. Why is Azam Swati his new minister for parliamentary affairs? He said that power lied with the people of Pakistan. Why is he increasingly replacing elected ministers with selected advisors and special assistants?

Moreover, Khan spent a lot of time on containers during his protests, making the entire capital hostage. Why did his interior minister threaten the opposition with a ‘chitrol’ If they did something similar? He demanded Saad Rafique to resign as the railways minister over a train accident. What did he not make a similar demand to Sheikh Rasheed? Why is the filthy mouthed bigot Fayyaz Chauhan back in the Punjab cabinet? Why did he endorse Modi when he himself criticized Nawaz Sharif to be ‘Modi ka Yaar’? Why did he blast the previous government over Dawn leaks when he himself says similar things and gets away with it? Why the media censorship? The list is never ending.

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Recently, there was a debate about introducing a presidential form of government as ‘the current parliamentary form of government is not workable in Pakistan’. I hate to break it to all die-hard Imran Khan supporters that the problem is not the parliamentary system. The problem lies with the attitude and arrogance of our prime minister who thinks even meeting opposition leaders is an insult to a man of his status and stature.

Advocates of a presidential form of government want to see Imran Khan become the supreme leader who will solve all the problems. But Khan is not immortal. What if the next person who takes over the government is Bilawal Bhutto or Mariam Nawaz or Hamza Shahbaz. Will the PTI still support presidential form of government?

It is high time that Khan realizes that he is now the prime minister of this country and no longer in opposition. People love him but they also have great expectations from him and their patience is running out. I do not expect him to solve our problems in a few months as it is a mess that has accumulated over decades by the actions of our previous rulers but the time for political gimmicks and statements is over.

Mr Khan, you made a lot of promises before coming into power. At least show us that you are still the same Kaptaan I cheered for. I know you said ‘ghabraana nahin hai’. But honestly, Mr Khan, ab ghabranay ka time hai.

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