news with death
TNS: Would you
support a court-backed military action against the civilian government to get
its (Supreme Court’s) decisions implemented?
Imran Khan: I would support
it because, first of all, the PPP government has sabotaged the Supreme Court
from day one. Asif Zardari only reinstated the chief justice after our Long
March. Then from the moment the NRO was annulled by the SC — which any SC
in the world would have done and we know it thanks to Condoleezza Rice who
states in her book that the Americans got Musharraf and Benazir together and
waived off criminal corruption cases of 8,000 people including Asif
Zardari’s amounting to over a trillion rupees — the government started
confronting it. They have tried to defame the court; the ministers have
passed defamatory remarks against the court and have defied judgments. So, if
today after two years, SC finally decides to ask the army [to come to its
rescue in implementing its decisions] people would be standing behind the SC.
TNS: You mean the sanctity
of court overrides any other consideration.
IK: Because, they are
destroying democracy. You can have early elections and strengthen democracy
but you destroy the Supreme Court and that is the end of democracy. You see
the whole third world has elections but, because they do not have an
independent justice system, they have elected criminals who are plundering
TNS: You are characterised
as army’s poster boy. How do you respond to this image-creation?
IK: I find it quite funny
(laughingly). But it is helpful, by the way, because in Punjab all the
politicians look towards where the army is looking. Nawaz Sharif is one
person who has been making a lot of propaganda along these lines and I told
him not to do so because this way you will not have a party soon; everyone
will come running to me (laughs again).
And Nawaz Sharif has no
moral authority to call me an army’s man, because one person who is totally
manufactured by the army is Nawaz Sharif. He was picked up from nowhere and
made the finance minster and then the chief minister. Then billions of rupees
were given to him to buy politicians. He started corruption in this country.
Then he has the audacity to call me an army guy.
TNS: Tell us about your
personal relationship with General Kayani and General Pasha?
IK: I hardly see them. I
have never met General Kayani except once and that was during the All Parties
Conference with other people, not alone. I just saw him long time ago in 2001
when he was General Musharraf’s staff officer. He used to be sitting in the
corner; I never spoke to him. I met Gen. Pasha last time one and a half year
ago, specifically on terrorism when I gave the statement that we would finish
terrorism in 90 days if we got out of this war. I issued the statement after
meeting with Gen. Pasha and discussing the situation with him. He agreed with
Look, if I want to reform
Pakistan it can only happen if I rely on people and have them on my side.
Otherwise I cannot take on the vested interests. If you don’t have
people’s power, you have no chance against them.
TNS: How can you finish
terrorism in 90 days when the first condition the Taliban propose for talks
is to impose Shariah in the country?
IK: I think the moment the
war [on terror] is over, you’ll see jihad will be over. What is most
destructive is suicide bombing and becoming martyrs. The moment jihad is
over, martyrdom is over. And then strengthening the people of tribal area is
TNS: Tell us what you think
about the war on terror and drone attacks.
IK: I actually don’t know
what the Americans are doing, what are they trying to achieve, and what
constitutes victory for them. Are they trying to eliminate the Taliban;
eliminating Taliban would mean eliminating the Pashtun nation because clearly
the Taliban now has become a national struggle. How can they take on those
140,000 military machines greatest in history if the whole population is not
TNS: You have said the PTI
government will have sensible relationship with the military. What does that
mean? Would Imran Khan-led government have total control over foreign
I will rephrase that — if I do not have total control I would not be
in government. I would never want to be in a position where I say look I
couldn’t; because the army is doing this. What is the whole memogate thing
about? Unless you have responsibility and authority together, you cannot do
TNS: It is believed that
you have different message for the people in Pakistan and for the West. What
does it mean when the American ambassador praises Imran Khan publicly?
IK: There is nothing that I
have said in public and not said in private. According to WikiLeaks, there is
only one person [me] who is telling them [the Americans] in private what he
was saying in public. I think by putting this question what you mean is
whether I am anti-America or anti-India. I don’t think you can be
anti-countries; you can only be anti-policies. For example, in Britain two
million people came out in anti-war rallies against their own government.
TNS: What do you think
about the blasphemy laws of Pakistan? Should these laws be reformed?
IK: The blasphemy laws
should not be abused; this is the real issue. Because if you don’t have a
blasphemy law, you will have people killing each other and riots. Remember
this law was made by the British because communities lived together and if
anybody insulted someone sacred, there would be riots and many people would
be killed. So, at least you now have a law where someone has to go to a court
of law and prove it. If you abolish it, there would be problems. In my
opinion, false witnesses should be given a prison sentence.
TNS: What is your opinion
on the Asiya Bibi’s case? Should she be in jail?
IK: No, she should not be
in jail if she is innocent. Put it this way. In Pakistan today the society is
so polarised that issues that were non-issues before the war on terror have
become bigger. Today you have a serious problem of getting knocked off like
Salmaan Taseer. Javed Ghamdi, one of our most enlightened Islamic scholars
and a friend of mine, is now sitting in Malaysia for simply condemning
suicide bombing as being un-Islamic. It is not time to talk about if Asiya
Bibi should be in jail or not; the main issue is that law should not be
abused and no innocent person should be framed under it. The total number of
people affected by the blasphemy laws is 800 and none of them has been
awarded death penalty so far. But we look at the 140,000 prisoners in
Pakistani jail and according to jail authorities half of them are innocent.
TNS: So, you think
blasphemy law is being abused?
IK: Every law is abused. In
Pakistan what law is not abused?
TNS: Let’s talk about
elections; you want to have early elections.
IK: The moment the Election
Commission has finalised fresh electoral rolls, there should be elections. We
have a petition in the Supreme Court that these elections should be annulled
because out of the 80 million votes 37 million votes are bogus.
TNS: You would need a lot
of money to contest the elections. How do you aim to raise clean fund?
IK: It’s the first time
in Pakistan’s history that we have done political fund-raising. I actually
had dinners with people who contributed and we have done that in America; I
will raise more money this time than anyone has ever raised in Pakistan’s
history, all legal. I will announce a bank account and I will get everyone
come and donate — but closer to the elections, once the election fever
begins, and will have it audited. Remember I am the biggest fund-raiser in
Pakistan. I know all the donors. Suddenly, the donors are coming and giving
me money, saying Imran this is for hospital and this is for your politics. It
never happened like this before.
TNS: Is there any group
that you’ve decided you are not going to deal with, because your leadership
also attended the ‘Difa’a Pakistan Conference’ arranged by Hafiz Saeed?
IK: As a politician, I
believe you must talk to everyone, bring them to the mainstream. Because the
moment you come into politics, you have to move towards the centre.
Marginalization is dangerous. Talking to everyone does not mean you agree
with their views, but you have to talk to them. Eventually there would be
people who cannot be reconciled but I believe most of them you can. I would
turn jihad to fix Pakistan; motivate them that they have to save this country
rather than to marginalise them. And you have to change the thinking against
India. This is no way we can maintain the relationship and survive as a
nation because, if nothing else, the security cost alone will finish us.
TNS: You are talking about
talking to people like Hafiz Saeed. But a few days back you said you can go
for an alliance with anybody but Nawaz Sharif?
IK: This does not mean I
will not talk to Nawaz Sharif. In fact, he is playing such a big double game.
He deceived us twice; he destroyed APDM. We all announced boycotting the
elections together but he went on and contested them. Balochistan problem is
because of him. If he wants re-election, why does he not come out of
TNS: Why do you think does
IK: He is not doing so,
because the moment he gets out of the Punjab Assembly, he will not be able to
control his parliamentarians and they will join us. Because, he knows the
public is with us. He believes in the power of victimisation.
TNS: Any possibility of
alliance with the PPP?
IK: No alliance with any of
them; I will fight alone.
TNS: And the religious
IK: The only likely party
is Jamaat-e-Islami but the problem is that most of our people don’t want to
have alliance with it. We are now growing at such a rate that we don’t need
an alliance. They will become an impediment for us because we are the only
TNS: Do you think Musharraf
will return to Pakistan and is there a common cause with him?
IK: There is no common
cause with him because he is responsible for this mess. He is the one who got
the NRO and so there is no question of having an alliance with him.
I don’t think Musharraf
will come. People in his party have asked me to request him not to come
otherwise their lives will be in danger, simply because the people who will
go after him are not normal assassins; these people will blow themselves up
to kill him. And I am talking about the Lal Masjid where you know these
madrassa students were burnt alive which led to the rise in extremism.
Secondly, in the Nawab Akbar Bugti’s case, his grandson has already put a
bounty on his head. In fact, he lives in a fool’s paradise and thinks that
a few hundred thousand facebook fans means he is very popular in Pakistan.
TNS: Your next rally is
going to be held in Quetta. Why have you chosen Quetta?
IK: Only because there is a
serious problem in Quetta. There is an insurgency going on in Balochistan; we
are trying our best to act as reconciliation force. The population of Quetta
is very small but we are trying our best to get as many people out as we can.
Basically, we want to get the Baloch and the Pashtun together. There are
security issues and that is why we have selected a stadium.
TNS: There is criticism of
the fact that you offer prayers at public rallies and also play music there.
IK: First of all it would
be hypocritical of me if I do not pray five times a day and I do not offer
prayers on stage. Secondly if I offer prayers, it means I respect the
sentiments of my people whom I represent. This is Pakistan where people live
by their religion. Why would I not respect them? Because I am
Oxford-educated? It does not mean following the public opinion; it means
respecting the tradition, culture and sensibilities of your people. People
here will not follow a mullah, but if Islam is threatened, they will die for
TNS: What is Imran Khan’s
IK: What was the original
Pakistan of Jinnah? A welfare state. It will not be an Islamic theocratic
state but an Islamic democratic state. How many times in the 1,400 years,
except for the Taliban and that semi-theocratic government in Iran, did we
have a theocratic government in the Islamic world? Never. There is no concept
of mullah in Islam. In Europe they had the pope ruling them; we don’t have
a concept of church. Islamic mean a humane and just state what Iqbal calls a
“spiritual democracy” as opposed to the neo-liberal one where the rich
get richer and the poor get poorer. It’s criminal what is going on in the
name of neo-liberal economics and capitalism. I really believe in welfare
TNS: Are you planning some
austerity campaigns to make Pakistan a welfare state?
IK: I will make sacrifices
like Jinnah, the one leader I look up to. Every penny that he took from the
public, he would think ten times before spending it. At the moment you got to
get rid of all these symbols — PM house, president house, governor houses,
CM houses. Would you believe Shahbaz Sharif has a discretionary fund of 30
billion rupees? Unaccounted, without audit. This is shameful. You need to
have massive austerity campaigns. Start with the government, have the moral
authority and then tell the army to cut down its cost.
I will have a cabinet of 20
ministers at the most; they will get out of these palaces. We will turn these
palaces symbolically into education institutions, libraries; so that people
don’t get attracted towards them and then abuse power like Mughal emperors.
TNS: So many old faces are
joining your party which we believe has started creating problem for the old
guard within the party. How are you planning to tackle this issue?
My experience is that of team-building. I captained Pakistan cricket
team for ten years. In the next ten years thirty captains changed. If I can
captain and make a team out of new and old players of Pakistan, it will not
be hard for me to deal with old and new leaders of PTI.
It is my considered
opinion that influential people often overrate their influence. Like the
country’s interior minister asking out of reach terrorists to lay down
their arms. Or the terrorists’ spokesman claiming to have killed someone in
the name of a religion. Or the chief judge telling the government, which in
turn tells the army, that all institutions must work within their limits. Or
the general telling the nation he supports democracy.
There’s this funny little
joke in Punjabi which I’m going to try translating here despite another of
my considered opinions that jokes and swear words in Punjabi lose their bite
in any other language, especially in English: It’s 1947 and there are two
separate processions on the streets of Delhi. Sweeping the road with a broom,
Elizabeth asks her husband, Joseph, what was the public commotion about?
‘It’s Hindus and Muslims. They want freedom’ he replied.
Will they get it?
Joseph rests his
wheelbarrow of rubbish to ponder before answering: ‘We might give it to
Those in the media are
particularly sensitive about their area of influence. They want to speak for
people, and they want to be authoritative and be liked at the same time. And
for the past couple of days they are all in complete agreement that the most
significant issues Pakistan faces today are: the memo saga, NRO case, and
Pak-US relations. Are they speaking for Pakistanis?
Let me first define the two
sets of Pakistanis who are as distinct as sun and moon but are often confused
with each other by the pundits. There are Pakistanis like the ex-colonel who
owns two houses in F-8 sector of Islamabad, and there are Pakistanis who work
as domestic servants in the home, and as assistants in the office of the
colonel-turned-businessman. The former set is small, well off and well
articulated. The latter makes up the vast majority of this country’s
population, but doesn’t have a face or a voice. It’s the latter set on
which I decided to test the issues identified by media pundits. And for my
enquiry I picked a dhaba at the edge of Jinnah Super, where lower income
workers and students come for lunch.
Is the memo case important
for you? I asked a young man wearing a tie under a full-sleeve sweater.
‘The memo written by Zardari?’ he took a guess. ‘That’s for the court
to decide who had what role in the memo, but is it important for you?’ He
munched on the question for a while and then said ‘no’ with a sheepish
grin and turned his attention towards the roti in front of him. ‘How about
you?’ I asked the gentleman in shalwar qamees who seemed eager to join the
conversation. ‘The memo is just a turf war between the army and the
government. Both want more authority, and both want to be the best friend of
America. One will win, one will lose, what is it to me and you? Except, the
one with more authority will lord over us more ruthlessly’.
Is the NRO case important
for you? I asked a policeman with no pips on his shoulders. He just shrugged.
Do you think the cases against President Zardari and others have any
importance for you? I insisted. ‘What can I say … corruption is
everywhere. Everyone does it. No one can stop it, not even courts. They are
just playing politics, and I am not interested in it’. ‘Thieves. They are
all thieves,’ the bearded manager sitting at the cash register shouts
animatedly. I turn to him, ‘If politicians are thieves, do you favour
generals as your leaders?’ ‘They are thanedars. The choice we have is
between thieves and thanedars, and they are both out to loot this country’.
But surely US support is
important for Pakistan, isn’t it? I asked a group of three colleagues from
a telecom company. They smiled, one of them laughed out loud. ‘US money is
important for those who get that money. And that’s not us’.
But all TV pundits are
unanimous in their belief that these are the most important issues for
Pakistan, and therefore for Pakistanis. None of you seems to agree. What kind
of Pakistanis are you people? I tried to end on a lighter note, but the one
with the necktie, who’d finished eating, put in the last word: ‘The TV
wallahs don’t talk to me and I don’t listen to them. They obviously have
someone else in mind when they talk of Pakistanis and their problems’.
Syed Sikandar Shah,
Shah Mardan Shah the Second, crowned as Pir Pagara VII, a big feudal lord and
the spiritual leader of Hurs, breathed his last on January 10, 2012 at the
age of 83. With his demise, Pakistan lost a very influential politician who
was a cementing force between the federation and the Sindh province. His
colourful personality and his witty-cum-diplomatic small talk with the media
earned him popularity countrywide. In the national politics from 1970
onwards, acutely polarised between the pro-Bhutto and anti-Bhutto camps, Pir
Pagara symbolised the anti-Bhutto bloc.
He was born on November 22,
1928, in Pir Jo Goth village of Khairpur district and received his primary
education there. Following the hanging of his rebellious father Pir
Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi by the British rulers in 1943, Syed Sikandar Shah
and his younger brother Syed Nadir Shah were taken off from Sindh to Aligarh
University High School, aka Minto Circle, in Aligarh under the guardianship
of a British professor, Mr Turner. Dr Ziauddin, the vice-chancellor of the
university, also looked after their welfare. Squadron Leader (retd) Ausaf
Hussain, a class fellow of Syed Sikandar Shah at the school, remembers that
from 1943 to 1946, the two brothers studied at this school and stayed at Zia
Manzil. Ausaf Hussain used to go on hunting trips along with Pir Pagara. In
1946, the British rulers moved Pir Pagara and his younger brother to
Liverpool, England where they studied at a private school run by Major C.
Davis at a village near Harrow.
After Independence, some
Sindhi journalists launched a campaign for the rehabilitation of Sikandar
Shah and Nadir Shah and restoration of their spiritual seat (gaddi). Syed
Anwer Qidwai, who was among the few journalists close to Pir Pagara, writes
in his obituary in daily Jang that Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan met the
two brothers in London and assured their rehabilitation. In 1951, they
returned to Pakistan. In February 1952, their status as spiritual leader was
restored and thousands of acres of land impounded by the British were
reclaimed to them. Sikandar Shah was elected by caliphs of Hurs (his
followers) as Pir Pagara VII.
When Pir Pagara took
charge, his followers, known as Hurs, who were organised as a militia,
were in dismal condition with their lands seized by the British government
and many of them were on the run to escape murder charges. He worked hard to
restore their financial position and persuaded them to face cases in courts.
Hurs were absolved in these politically-motivated cases and got back the
ownership of their lands.
Pir Pagara saw to it that
Hurs, who were branded as a terrorist organisation, became peaceful and
law-abiding citizens and encouraged modern and religious education among his
followers whether males or females. Later, he established a seminary in his
ancestral village that came to be known as Jamia Rashidia along with a
library packed with thousands of books. Today, eight branches of this
religious school are spread over in different parts of Sindh. Hurs celebrate
Pagara’s philanthropy and assistance to the poor students. In the wars of
1965 and 1971, Hurs played a crucial role in defending Pakistan’s frontiers
along the Sindh border.
Late Azhar Sohail, a
journalist who also had access to Pir Pagara and did a long autobiographical
interview of him for his book titled, “Pir Pagara Ki Kahani, Kuch Un Ki,
Kuch Meri Zubani,” writes that Pir Pagara patronised Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
when he returned from abroad as a young lawyer and was not in good shape. Pir
Pagara helped Bhutto by engaging him as a counsel for his followers’ cases.
Pir Pagara, through his brother-in-law, Hasan Mehmood, also helped Bhutto to
become a member of a Pakistani delegation that was sent to the United Nations
by President Iskandar Mirza. Thus, he facilitated Bhutto’s entry into the
corridor of powers. But when Bhutto became a blue-eyed boy of President Gen
Ayub Khan, the two feudal lords of Sindh fell out. Pir Pagara was on the side
of Gen Ayub Khan’s opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League led by Ms Fatima
Pir Pagara’s active
politics started in the 1970s when Bhutto was at his peak and the opposition
was very weak. Pagara cobbled together the United Democratic Front (UDF) and
led the anti-Bhutto forces through his tenure. Bhutto instituted a treason
case against Pir Pagara. In the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), Pagara was
the head of the alliance’s parliamentary board. During the 1977’s
agitation, he was briefly arrested but immediately released when his
followers violently reacted to the arrest in Sindh. Afterwards, when most
political people were appealing to Gen Ziaul Haq for pardoning Bhutto’s
death sentence in the Kasuri murder case, Pir Pagara took no mercy on him and
said: “It would be cruel to the sheep to pardon a wolf,” writes Azhar
Sindh was up in arms
against Gen Ziaul Haq in the early 1980s, but Pir Pagara collaborated with
the military ruler and tried to get a way-out through persuasion and
manoeuvering. In the days of strict censorship of media and blackout of
political statements, Pir Pagara had the privilege to get headlines in the
press. It goes to his credit that he created space for political activities
even in those days when the military regime was in no mood to brook any
opposition. During this period, he also earned reputation for making
political predictions, many of which came to be true thanks to his
connections with the military establishment. Through his witty political
comments, he used to throw feelers, wage psychological war against his
opponents and keep his supporters in high spirits. In the late 1980s, when
Benazir Bhutto’s popularity was in full swing, he would say Benazir’s
son, Bilawal, would be a member of his party.
He is also said to be one
who persuaded Gen Zia to hold non-party elections in 1985 and got his
follower, Mohammad Khan Junejo, elected as prime minister. Subsequently,
tensions emerged between Gen Zia and Junejo, and Pir Pagara backed the
civilian government till it was dismissed in 1988. His intelligent
realpolitik throughout the 1980s could be termed the climax of his politics.
During the Junejo days, he also strongly and successfully opposed the
Jamaat-e-Islami’s efforts to get a Shariat Bill passed through the
parliament, saying it was an attempt to enforce Wahabi Islam in the country
and would divide the people on sectarian lines.
Pir Pagara had tried to get
his brother-in-law Hasan Mehmood, a big landlord from Rahim Yar Khan, elected
as Chief Minister of Punjab after the 1985 polls, but failed and Nawaz Sharif
won the seat, thanks to Gen Ziaul Haq’s patronage. Later, he patronised
Chaudhry Pervez Elahi to lead a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League against
Nawaz Sharif. His differences with Nawaz Sharif lasted till his last day; his
effort in 2010 to unite different factions of the Muslim League was turned
down by Sharif.
After Nawaz Sharif’s rise
as head of anti-Bhutto politics in Punjab during the 1990s, Pir Pagara’s
role in politics started to shrink. In 1988, he lost elections to the
Pakistan People’s Party even in his home constituency. It was a common
refrain among the Hurs that they are followers of Pir Pagara in spiritual
matters, but politically they are with Bhutto. During the last two decades,
also because of his old age, he was mainly limited to Sindh where he had
strong connections with influential Syed families and to southern district
Rahim Yar Khan of Punjab where his in-laws’ family held the sway.
He was a Sindhi feudal
lord, but distinct from others of his ilk. He was a photographer, a star
gazer and fond of English music, horseracing and hunting. He lived a life of
luxury with a style that was unique to him. His departure wrapped up a
historical chapter that was marked with moderation, wit and a politics based
on civil-military partnership. For him politics was the art of possible and
in that he excelled.
“We left our
native village in Mohmand tribal region and shifted to Shabqadar area of
Charsadda district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, believing that we will be safe
here. But the militants chased us even in this comparatively safer place and
shot dead my younger brother,” Haji Yaqoob Khan, elder brother of slain
tribal journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif, tells TNS.
Mukarram Khan Aatif, 47,
was associated with Voice of America’s Pashto language Deewa Radio and a
local television channel, Dunya News. He was offering Maghrib prayers in the
village mosque when two men armed with AK-47 assault rifles entered and
sprayed bullets at the journalist. Mukarram Khan was shifted to the Lady
Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar where he succumbed to injuries on Jan 17.
He is the 38th Pakistani
journalist and 24th tribal reporter killed since 2002, and the first to be
killed in 2012. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), headed by Hakimullah Mahsud,
claimed responsibility for the killing. “We killed the journalist because
VOA’s Deewa Radio had refused to give us coverage and used bad words for
Taliban militants. He was on our hit list,” the TTP spokesman Ihsanullah
Ihsan tells TNS on telephone from an undisclosed location.
The militant spokesman even
named some journalists who are on their hit list. “The journalists have
become a party against us, therefore we have decided to kill them one by
Brother of the slain
journalist and his colleagues, however, say that Mukarram was an independent
and impartial journalist and had done nothing for which he could be killed.
“Though he was a
journalist, well-known to everybody and a very sensible person, to me he was
still a child, a younger brother. I was always worried about his security but
could not save his life,” Mukarram’s brother Yaqub laments.
Mukarram Khan had no
children. “He was honest and hospitable. I remember how he would buy
chocolates from the village shop and distribute among the village
children,” his brother recalls.
Hameedullah Khan, a
journalist and colleague of Mukarram Khan Aatif, says he was a thorough
professional and was never short of story ideas. “Mukarram always used to
file unique stories. He used to find a news report in everything,”
Hameedullah says, adding Mukarram was intimate with friends, always stealing
social gatherings, with his witty remarks and jokes. “His friends will
always miss him.”
His colleagues in Deewa
Radio says that Mukarram Khan always tried to file balanced reports not only
on militancy, terrorist attacks, military operations, but on civic issues
such as education and health. “He was a regular contributor on the problems
of displaced people from various regions and especially from different areas
of Mohmand agency,” says Hameedullah.
Mukarram had narrowly
escaped the twin suicide blasts in Ghallanai area of the Taliban-controlled
Mohmand tribal region two years ago, where two other journalists had lost
their lives. “Mukarram used to recall the horror of the day when he watched
the blast from a hundred yards distance, that killed so many people around
him,” Hameedullah says.
Safdar Hayat Dawar,
president of Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), recalls the slain journalist
as “hard-working and thoroughly professional”, saying the tribal
journalists have been continuously facing life threats. “How can these
journalists work in the tribal areas where they are suspected as spies
working for the US and Pakistan armed forces. Twelve journalists have been
gunned down in the tribal areas since 2005 and we do not know what will
He says he had personally
approached Mukarram Khan when the Pakistani Taliban objected to his work and
gave him life threats, and advised him to be careful while dealing with
issues related to the militants.
In mid 201I,
UK-based Transworld Publishers — an imprint of Random House — published a
book in English language written by Imran Khan ‘Pakistan: A personal
History’. In spite of the map controversy, the book was well received not
only in Pakistan and India, but also in the West.
Its Urdu translation has
been recently published by an Urdu Bazar publisher. In the blurb written on
the flap, Dr Khurshid Rizvi, a rare scholar of Arabic studies in Pakistan,
has praised Haroon-ur-Rashid for an excellent translation. The Urdu
translation has some amendments, additions and omissions, and there is no
explanation in the book why these additions and omissions are made.
In the preface,
Haroon-ur-Rashid says that Ghulam Mohyuddin had done the translation while he
had given it final touches. He also says that he had reservations regarding
what Imran wrote in English in Chapter 2 and 10. Among those who rechecked
the final version included Urdu columnist Aamir Hashim Khakwani, Rana Mahboob
Akhtar and Mian Khalid Hussain.
On page 226, Imran Khan
talks about his first gambling experience. On page 228 in Urdu, there is an
additional six-line explanation from the author — Imran Khan criticising
media persons for using his confessional statement negatively.
On page 370, there is
another addition where Khan is talking about his Lahore public meeting of
October 30, 2011, which he did after publication of the English version. If
these additions were so important, they could be printed in footnotes rather
than in regular text.
In the English version on
page 296/7, there are some sentences about Syed Ahmad Shaheed Barelvi. These
are “Even in nineteenth century during the twilight days of India’s
Mughal Empire, when Syed Ahmad Barelvi founded a revolutionary Islamic
movement it failed to take hold. Barelvi preached jihad against non-Muslim
influences and tried to rally the Pashtun tribes to his cause but they
disliked his rigid brand of Islam and abandoned him, leaving him to be slain
by the Sikhs who had at that time conquered the settled Pashtun areas.” In
Urdu translation on page 303, translation of the sentence “leaving him to
be slain by the Sikhs” is missing.
On the same page, there is
another example of omission in the Urdu text. “There is a strong Sufi
influences in Pakistan, which will always be at odds with the strict literal
Islam of Wahhabi ideology that influences many militant groups. This tension
is represented by the two main schools of thought for Sunni Muslims in
Pakistan. Barelvis typically lean towards South Asia’s traditional brand of
Sufi Islam with its saints and shrines and message of tolerance. Deobandis,
on the other hand, are more ideologically aligned with the Wahhabis and are
therefore more sympathetic to the Taliban’s version of Islam (Page 297).”
In Urdu text on page 303, the omitted phrases are; ‘strict literal Islam of
Wahhabi ideology’ and ‘aligned with the Wahhabis’.
In the English version on
page 75, Imran Khan writes about the forced exile of Mian Nawaz Sharif after
October 1999, while in Urdu on Page 70 it is not there.
In the English version on
page 79, Imran Khan writes about the early days of Islam as “Hereditary
kingship replaced the budding democracy of the Medina State and only in the
twentieth century did it make reappearance in the Muslim world”. The
translator did not feel necessary to translate it in Urdu.
On page 67 in the English
version, Khan writes “at stake were Western puppet regimes in oil-producing
countries like Saudi Arabia….” In Urdu translation on page 62/3, the
translator missed the name of Saudi Arabia.
On page 68, Imran Khan
writes “Zia, keen to legitimise his unconstitutional takeover of
Pakistan,….” Yet the translator finds it unnecessary to mention the words
“unconstitutional takeover” on page 63.
On page 66, Imran Khan
criticises the US and CIA-backed coup to overthrow Mossadegh, yet CIA is
missing in Urdu on page 61. The sentence which is missing on the same page
also shows preferences of translators. Just read it “Mossadegh had had the
temerity to stand up for the rights of the Iranian people and seize the
country’s oil production, which had hitherto been controlled by the British
Government’s Anglo-Iranian oil Company”.
In English on page 69,
Imran Khan writes “Zia’s Islamisation and Musharraf’s enlightened
moderation failed”, while in Urdu on page 64, the translation of
Islamisation is mazhabiat and enlightened moderation is secularism.
There is a consistent
pattern of omissions in the Urdu version as mentioned above with a few
examples. It is neither called a separate book nor translation as mentioned
in the blurb and in the first article of the book. At the back title, the
publisher has used pieces of book reviews of the English version. Yet on the
credit page, the name of the English-version publisher is absent. Why was the
team of translators not satisfied with Imran Khan’s version as represented
in English is an interesting question?
Famous historian Patrick
French in his book Partition of India; Liberty or Death called Jawahar Lal
Nehru the western face of Gandhi. So is the English version of Pakistan: A
Personal History a western face of Imran Khan.
Aamir Riaz is a
Lahore-based editor and researcher