I came across this op-ed by Pervez Hoodbhoy in the Dawn titled Pakistan’s Donald Trump -II. When I started reading it there was a reference to the first article he had written in 2015.So I read both articles. I found the comparison between Imran Khan and Donald Trump fascinating. Given below are excerpts from both articles.
Pakistan’s Donald Trump (2015)
….An American political commentator, John Dean (of Watergate fame), describes Trump as “a near perfect authoritarian leader” with a personality type that is “intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, dishonest, cheat to win, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, militant, nationalistic, tell others what they want to hear, take advantage of ‘suckers’, specialise in creating false images to sell self, may or may not be religious.”
Take away the “faintly” and this neatly fits Trump’s Pakistani counterpart, cricketer Imran Khan, who burst upon Pakistan’s political scene with his mammoth Lahore jalsa of 2011. With a lavish lifestyle and his playboy past neatly tucked away in some closet the reformed Khan promised the moon as he cavorted on the stage, loudly praying towards Makkah for success.
Khan’s support base is diverse: college-educated “burger bachas”, brigades of bejewelled begums, hysterical semi-educated youth, and wild-eyed TTP supporters. Delighting them all, he unleashes from time to time a steady stream of abuse upon his political rivals who threaten to sue him but are ultimately deterred by Pakistan’s labyrinthine court system.
Made of the same stuff but packaged differently, the Trump-Khan duo has thrilled racial and religious extremists. The former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, declared that of all presidential candidates, Trump is “the best of the lot”. Khan received still greater appreciation. He was nominated by the TTP as their representative to last year’s (cancelled) peace talks, the reward for leading massive “peace” marches protesting American drones. Resolutely refusing to condemn any Taliban atrocity, Khan would seek to shift the blame on the US….
….Khan’s ideas make even Trump’s hare-brained schemes look tame. Once I’m in power, Khan declared, I will end corruption in 19 days and terrorism in 90 days. The 19 was subsequently changed to 90; the need for an additional 71 days remained unexplained. But let’s put that aside. It’s now 887 days since Khan’s PTI took over the reins of the KP province. The end of corruption and terrorism should be nigh, right? But don’t hold your breath.
Pakistan’s Donald Trump — II (2022)
….Seven years is an eternity in the world of politics. What has Naya Pakistan come to mean? Since 2015, much has happened: Trump narrowly won the presidency but failed at re-election. Since then, he has not stopped trying to claw his way back to power. Khan was the winner in the controlled elections of 2018 and has had nearly four years for selling Naya Pakistan. His fate presently rests upon the no-confidence motion before parliament.
…Then, as now, the political toolkits of both men include abundant use of abusive language for firing up supportive mobs. So is making promises which, even if unfulfillable, help generate fantasies in their followers.
…The first time around these tools, together with practised theatrics, worked well. Once installed in power, the orange-skinned president cultivated an ecosystem of sycophants, sellers of snake oil and white extremists. In a blizzard of disinformation, his political opponents were blamed for all failures of governance and economic mismanagement….But Americans soon realised that although Trump was brilliant before the cameras, on governance he was clueless. The economy, race matters and foreign relations headed south. Relations with European allies plummeted even as the Putin-Trump personal rapport grew stronger. When voters rejected Trump for a second term, this was incomprehensible to a man who adored himself beyond limit…While places, times, and people are obviously different for Pakistan, many similarities are startlingly close — and growing closer. Khan is already concocting an explanation for his possible ouster: he is being punished by the West for his independent foreign policy and jihad against Islamophobia. He threatens to unleash hell upon turncoat members of his own party and, of course, the opposition.
….In Pakistan, what lies ahead may or may not end with Khan’s ouster. But what will be his legacy when he does finally go?
On democracy: depriving parliamentarians of their right to vote is a slap in the face to democracy and decency. That this violates the Constitution is clear as day. But, to be honest, worse has happened before. Four martial laws have trampled the Constitution under the boot. And, even without overt constitutional violations, crooked politicians and generals have stuffed their pockets for decades and parked their assets in unreachable places.
On the economy: today’s galloping inflation, repeated returns to the IMF, more whitewashing of black money, dramatic fall of the rupee, and performance levels well below that of India and Bangladesh, are significant negatives. But don’t blame PTI alone. Pakistan’s systemic economic weaknesses stem from overspending on defence, elite capture of national wealth, and a hopelessly under-skilled workforce. That’s why CPEC’s new infrastructure led to insignificant industrialisation. The same would have happened in a PML-N or PPP government.
On foreign relations: the world noticed PM Khan hailing Osama bin Laden a martyr; calling the Taliban liberators; shaking hands with Putin just before the Ukraine war; wantonly spiting the EU although it is one of Pakistan’s economic props; and sending relations with Saudi Arabia crashing down. Still, these are reversible. A new prime minister can set things right.
On education: Khan’s toxic legacy will be nearly irreversible. While madressahs do exactly today what they have done for decades and centuries, Punjab’s regular schools now function more as madressahs and less as schools. Even the super-rich are only partly exempted. The kind of mixed-up, confused and ignorant generations that the so-called Single National Curriculum will produce is absolutely terrifying. On the higher education front, Khan has disembowelled the HEC and made it a hotbed of intrigue.
When Khan proclaimed Naya Pakistan would be Riyasat-i-Madina, most people thought it was a metaphor for a cleaner, more equitable Pakistan. Our friend from Washington can be forgiven for thinking this as neither “nasty nor nefarious”. Almost everyone failed to see the hidden text: the head of any religious state must claim divine sanction in some form. With near-daily fiery pontifications on his ideas of moral behaviour and proper dress, Khan’s ‘high vision’ is fully before us. And, just in case you are unsure whether Naya Pakistan’s head should stay or go, please remember that “only animals can be neutral”.
I will be very sorry to see Imran Taliban Khan go out of power. As an Indian I started liking him. He was the best thing to happen to India. He has single handedly destroyed Pakistan beyond my wildest imagination. Of course it is arguable that if there was a different PM from a different party would Pakistan have been different? Doubtful. However Imran U Turn Kahan made a difference. He took Pakistan to the precipe effortlessly. His statements and utterances made the world realise that they were dealing with a radical state which sponsors terror as a tool of its existential policy.
Thank you Imran KhanTrump Saheb for all you have done for India. You have ensured that the gulf between Pakistan and India has widened to such an extent of irrelevance that we in India have started look beyond to take on the world as you keep taking on your bosom friends, the Taliban’s of all kind of hues. Your last photo op with Mr Putin puts you in a celestial frame which every westerner will remember and every Pakistani will cringe when he looks at it. We are glad that in your tenure as the PM , the Pakistani passport became the second worst passport to hold.
If there is anything I can do for you to win the No Confidence vote kindly let me know. I will mobilise a 100 billion Indians to come to your aid.
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