Published on Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Imran Khan, the legendary cricket player and founder of Tehreek-e-Insaf party in Pakistan, has written a book entitled "Pakistan: a personal history". In the book he describes his personal life from early child hood to 2011 in the backdrop of political situation of Pakistan. Imran is honest when he tells that his religious conviction was very superficial in childhood. From the background of a well-to-do Pakistani extended Muslim family, he shockingly felt the difference between Pakistani and Western society and culture when he went to England for study as a youth.

In spite of his early Western look and outlook, Imran gradually finds Islam and Pakistan nearest to heart and changes to a practicing Muslim over the years. He finds spiritual solace in Islam. The honest self exploration and gradual change from a playboy image cricketer to a Muslim political leader of Pakistan is fascinating. The Management Gurus may think that 'leadership' is situational; but Imran is determined to show that a leader of cricket can be a leader of politics also. He is very frank when he tells that his political commitments in Pakistan could not allow him much time for family life and led to divorce without any acrimony.

Imran's political journey begins very slowly with initial uncertainty. He feels that the plundering done by the Westernized elite ruling class of Pakistan in past six decades has made the life miserable for the common people. He strongly argues that the elite ruling class has deprived the common people from the fruits of Islamic society for which Pakistan was borne and made the country a slave of US. As per Imran, the blame for the current Islamist, sectarian and terrorist activities in Pakistan falls on the shoulders of this Westernized, greedy and corrupt ruling class of the country.

Imran is a dreamer. He inculcates the philosophy of Allama Iqbal and thinks that Iqbal's vision of Islamic state in Pakistan should be put into practice. He also refers to the famous speech of Mr. Jinnah in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Here the book takes an interesting turn. The main political proposals of Imran for Pakistan are: separation of religion from the state, introduction of Ijtihad (for fresh interpretations of Qur'an in light of current situation to bring socio-economic development and justice for all) and equal rights for religious minorities. No doubt such proposals stem from the writings of Iqbal and vision of Mr. Jinnah, but these are all most impossible to put into practice in any Islamic country because of the following reasons:

  1. Iqbal, during his own time, was ridiculed by Ulema for his revolutionary outlook about Islam. The situation is no better even today.
  2. Religion and politics are two sides of Islam from the very beginning and no Islamic country could effectively separate these two or rather tried to do so.
  3. Pakistan alone cannot introduce Ijtehad and Ulema all over the world will fight against such move by Pakistan.
  4. For religious minorities; concept, principle and practice of "Dhimmitude", "Jizia" and restrictions on religious practices are the markers of Islam's superiority over other religions and no Alim will be considerate towards the religious minorities of Pakistan on that count.

But I salute Imran Khan for putting his views so boldly and unambiguously. Even showing of compassion for religious minority, which constitutes only 2% of Pakistan's population, is a great thing. He may be a dreamer. But only a dreamer has the chance to realize his dream.

We are waiting for such a political leader in Bangladesh as well.

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