At last, Imran Khan is being noticed. The Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader and former cricket superstar has been trying to tell an uncaring world that he is not in a league any less than the Bhuttos and Musharrafs of this world in his importance on the Pakistani stage. He would have us believe that the Pervezian drama had as much to do with muzzling his voice for democracy as it had with keeping old Mush in the saddle. But, alas, no one was listening to the dashing cricketer till his estranged wife Jemima Goldsmith, mother of his two sons, from the safe confines of her many Western estates spoke of her former husband’s efforts to lead the underground movement in Pakistan. Silly us, we didn’t even see much of an overground movement.
Now Mr Khan has, for some inexplicable reason, been seized by hardline Jamaat-I-Islami students and handed over to the police, who have thrown him in the clink. And, to add a dramatic turn to the script, have accused him of spreading hatred and inciting civil disobedience. Now Mr Khan, more famous for his T-shirt bearing the legend ‘Big boys play at night’ from his cricketing days, will be able to cast himself in the role of a noble and sacrificing Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi, an anti-establishmentarian who has risked life and limb for liberty and democracy. And we won’t mention that the poor dear’s party hasn’t exactly set the hustings on fire, even in Pakistan’s somewhat feeble attempts at holding elections.
But you have to give it to him. While the seasoned politicians like Nawaz Sharif find themselves in the cold, Mr Khan has managed to transform himself from soap model (yes, he featured in a soap ad thanks to the good offices of Parmeshwar Godrej) into revolutionary hero. General Musharraf must be quaking in his jackboots.