Our apologist athlete and his students

(Published on Pak Tea House on 1st July, 2011)

Last week in class, two of my students were to present the impact of the War on Terror on the Pakistan economy.

My young freshman students missed the point of the presentation, to focus on the economy, and economic policy in light of a war. Rather they delved into Pakistani politics and said that the War on Terror was Americas war, nothing to do with Pakistan and we should have stayed out of it (as if we had a choice or wanted to do that) and the only politician calling this spade a spade was Imran Khan.

They ended their presentation with this video clip, where repeatedly Khan says that the military was wrong to go into Wazistan… the military by attacking its own people had ‘created’ the Taliban said the apologist athlete. The presentation ended with the whole class clapping and nodding in agreement.

Fasi Zaka write for the Express Tribune (June 14, 2011), “Many Pakistanis clamour for an independent Pakistan free of corruption, yet they balk at the idea of supporting Imran Khan.” I find myself among the ‘balkers’ and agree with Mr Zaka. But why so? The man has established himself to be honest, generous and uncorrupt, which is more than we can say for the gahirat brigade or President Zardari. Recently Nadeem Piracha has also written about Imran being a creation of the establishment. And then Raza Habib Raza on PTH has commented that the youth’s love affair with Khan saying it’s all about a lack of other options. I think it runs deeper than that, students like his ‘blame rhetoric’, the idea that he’s the only politician that hasn’t mucked up yet.

After two years of teaching classes in political science and economics, to well near a thousand students in a private sector college, all but a handful actually have a critical understanding of politics. Our youth does not read papers; they read top rated blog posts and top tweeted news stories. They go to the news anchors for their information and none of them know their Islamic history from their political and cultural history. The general sentiments are pro-Imran Khan and either apologetic about terrorism and radicalization or pro-Taliban, views that are hard to change in one semester and that belong to both liberal and conservative students. These are dangerous ideas to adopt and give forces like the Taliban a semblance of legitimacy. For me much of my face-palm reaction at Imran Khan and his student supporters is because his simplistic rhetoric spells trouble in case he ever gets elected.

Fasi Zaka is spot on when he says that Khan is Jamaat-e-Islami 2.0, “Imran blamed the death of Salmaan Taseer on the war on terror. As if blasphemy related murders never happened before 9/11… he suggested a ceasefire, negotiations and compromise. That’s exactly what happened in 2009 in Swat and Malakand, with the government going further and giving the extremists legal cover”… gaping holes in his 2.0 ideology sprinkled with progressiveness.

But we will only know what Imran Khan can actually do if he has political success in elections. His competition has hardly handled the country well. Is there room for optimism that he can whip Pakistan into shape? Many fear he will blunder through foreign policy and make a fool of Pakistan.

Today as well, while debating corruption in class, a student asked what viable political option did we have? ‘Well Tehreek-e-Insaaf of course,’ replied another student. But what must the youth do? Blame the military, USA and the corrupt system of politics? “Yes why of course, Miss Gardezi”. But blame militant groups themselves for turning buildings into rubble and killing Ahmadis, Shias and anyone else who acts different… “Oh no Miss Gardezi, militants only blow up stuff because USA invaded Afghanistan and is now invading Pakistan.”

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14 thoughts on “Our apologist athlete and his students”

  1. A very interesting article. Somewhat depressing even when taking student immaturity into account. Politiical populism is also rapidly gaining ground here in Europe. I can well imagine that cricket is a sound platform for populistic politics.

    Your comments on reading and lack of deeper political awareness habits could describe the situation here.

    1. yes i think it can be said that youth across countries have the same affliction. I think its the barrage of non political/historical knowledge that fills their time like facebook or tv and then they are faced with limited knowledge and choices with politicians
      i try my best to create some awareness with the mostly anti-american, apologist and politically conservative youth i encounter but it is very difficult to change monolithic ideologies that often come for religion and emotion than from fact and logic.

    1. Ofcourse, a rational, logical presentation of their arguments will definitely allow them to gather more support from our extremely educated general population. I hate the way he stood alongside all his supporters during the April 23rd Naraan Chowk sitting against the NATO Supply. Let’s vote for the tried and failed political parties, because the numbers at pakistanbodycount.org are just numbers.
      #sarcasm

  2. AOA, Madam it was eventually unfortunately me who gave you the presentation you are referring to. I’m happy and proud that you could extract a whole article out of it. I just wanted to show some factual figures of losses that were incurred post 9/11. Plus the presentation did consist of a part of solution where I had to raise some questions, and discuss the proposed political doctrine behind that. Anyone is allowed to disagree, though.
    may b i m too immature to argue but as far as i knw he ix nt the creation of establishment in this country.. the rulers who are ruling at the moment whether in province or in federal are the creation of establishment… may b he supported musharraf but den afterwards he realized his mistake and apologized the whole nation and rejected the offer of primeministership. 2nd point the war on terror.. i jus want to ask afew questions
    1- how many suicide attacks were dea b4 2004..?? and
    2- how many pakistani talibans were dea b4 2004..??? and
    3- if military was only the solution of this war den y the graph of terrorism ix not declining.. y its going up day by day..???
    4- how many insergencies in the world have been resolved through military attacks??? wt ix the justification of collateral damage???

    obama himself said that dea ix no military solution and now seeking safe exit from afghanistan.. blaming ISI for all the terrorism.. as far as swat negotiations are concerned i agree that they did broke the agreement.. but
    5- wt abt in waziristan wen our government try to negotiate and there comes the drone attack..
    6- wen the creadibility of our government ix zero, who will do agreements wid us… plus drone attacks are the violation of all the humanitarion laws.. plus the parliament pass the joint resolution of no more drone attacks but on the same night dere was a drone attack.. so cant v conclude that it ix a dummy parliament???
    dat if bomb knows that wea ix a terrorist and wea r innocent mothers and babies.. our tribal people are also pakistanis they also have a rite to live… plus no one knows who ix been killed in drone attacks because there ix no DNA of bodies and saying that who eva ix been killed ix a terrorist… v shuld b ashamed of this behavior..

    1. My counter argument is that the Pakistani led counter-insurgency after 9/11 was due to a situation where we had no choice. In 2001 we had to choose between US as and ally, or to go it alone and become a terrorist state. Under US foreign police, any state that harbors terrorists is a terrorist itself. Thus our situation would have been really unstable and insecure. The military in exchange for being forced into the warm made some concessions on economic aid and development which allowed for public opinion not to go against Musharraf. In my opinion, Imran Kahn would have probably taken a similar stance. Refusing USA was just not practical then.
      Just because I said the military was the only solution, does not make it a good solution. India had an option of a better solution, it just gave aid and humanitarian assistance. That option was not available to us because of the previous afghan war and the spread of terrorist networks into Pakistan.
      And if you say Imran apologized for his actions the same logic can be applied to Zardari who gave up a lot of power with the 18th amendment and restored CJ Chaudhry and now just got us a big supply of electricity (even thug it will soon run out). If Zardari has mansions here and there, remember that Khan also has a mansion in Margalla, and bank accounts in England. He also has an illegitimate daughter and even in his cricketing years was caught for ball tampering. Imran blames the military and USA for everything, and thus even our own problems of intolerance and lack of respect for minorities are argued to have external causes. We need to stop exporting the blame, and criticize ourselves for once. This element or Imrans rhetoric is what I find dangerous, and it continues to support conservative rightwing fundamentalist views. But on one is perfect, I hope Imran Khan surprises me with a miracle that save Pakistan. But do you really think that if Khan come to power the parliament will be less of a dummy. Even if TI wins, it wont be a majority in the parliament, and will have to form a coalition. What then?
      Remember that the current government was not in power when the war started. Neither was Obama. We inherit the problems of history. So will Khan. His mindset to be honest is not very different from most other politicians, and he has been known to change his opinions and actions as he has politically evolved. The youth needs to think critically about these things. I have always said in class that there is no right answer, and your opinions are right for you so long as you build them on actual facts and critically think about the options available to you as a voter.

      1. Unfortunately, our politicians are not perfectly clean, but that is nothing new. As I understand, your students may be immature, they may read mainstream tweets and blog posts, but they do have one point. When it comes down to the ballot, the only rational choice is Imran Khan. He may have bank accounts in England (although i haven’t heard of it), he may have a bastard child, he may have been accused of ball tampering in his youth, and he may not have the political influence to make it to the top, but is he worse than the others?
        .
        You can either vote for the rest and ensure more corruption, throw a tantrum and refuse to vote, or take a chance.. It’s just logical.

      2. Thats just it. “Is he worse than the others?”- my point is that the youth has to be critical of the choices they have. Vote for Khan by all means, but dont make him out to be a saint and expect that there wont be corruption in his government. I dont know why saying this offends right-winged TIP fanboys. Im going to vote, maybe even for TiP, maybe not. Buy Khans ideology leaves much to be desired. Jitna sarcastic hona hai ho lo (read your comment to samar).

      3. Good to see you finally understand my stance. About the sarcasm, i couldn’t help it. Khan isn’t the only populist. And he is definitely not the worst.

  3. first of all lets come to the point that same logic can b applied to zardari… first of all same cant b applied to zardari.. everyone knows how he restored judiciary under immense public pressure in shape of long march.. 18th ammendment reminds me of that thing. “1st ix our turn and 2nd is urx..” passing the law that prime minister can b elected for third time and every one knows who will be benefitd from it.. secondly i bet khan has no bank accounts in England.. he has everything in pakistan plus even he has no british passport.. he has played 21 years of international cricket cant u expect that he can have a mansion in margalla?? politics is on issues not on personal matters.. so called allegation of having illegimate daughter is his personal matter we shoud not drive it into politics… and let me tell you our other politicians are not angels too.. now come on zardari.. a person who is a president of pakistan but has everything outside the country, bank balances, property and stuff.. a person who is a president of a country but dont give taxes and havent declared his assets.. a person who has loads of cases in court against fraud, corruption.. a person who is called as MR.10%.. when NRO person and a person who dont himself give taxes is your president then how can you expect that he will collect taxes from his nation..?? how can he trial his cabinet?? these all are status co parties who are just there to eat eat and eat..

    3rdly if khan will get majority i m sure that parliament will not b dummy because when your leader is a lion then your rest of team also becomes lion.. khan is not afraid of usa. he talks to foreigners.. he is not corrupt. you cant find single corruption in shaukat khanam.. he has his assets declared and he give all the taxes how can u expect that he will not collect taxes from his nation when he gives all the taxes.. you always become example and roll model for your nation by starting trial from yourself.. plus he has made it very clear that he will not do any sort of alliance with people who dont declare their assets and dont give taxes..

    at last i will like to conclude what we have got by drawing ourself in this war???? 35000 people have been killed.. 68 billion dollars have been lost to the economy.. 1 wise man said that if u want to destroy your army send it to your civil areas….. ………….. the situation we are facing now is more insecure then ever.. they are going to declare us a terrorist state blaming ISI for terrorism.. so v can conclude that becoming their ally and after giving so many sacrifises v still have a danger that v will b called a terrorist state..
    for this purpose we became their front line ally in war against terrorism…??????????

    1. Mainay kab kaha angels hain. Im saying koi bhee angel naheen hai. But good response in the first paragraph.
      “when your leader is a lion then your rest of team also becomes lion”- but thats not how the parliament works. Politics is not a cricket match. A PTI majority cant simply overcome opposition by being lion-like. Crazy se deal making karni parhti hai to survive.
      You keep coming back to the war on terror. I agree keh kuch naheem mila us se, but as I said, we really didnt have a choice. Well we did, it as USA declaring war against Pakistan and Afghanistan. Imran criticizes it but there is very little a weak state can change with regards to foreign policy. Until USA cools down, which it seemed it has, Pakistan taking anoutehr u turn would have been disastrous for International relation.
      And please do not feel offended, and do not feel that I am criticizing you. It is debate like this and acceptance of other peoples opinions that creates better communication and tolerance- something lacking in Pakistan today. An if you remember, even though I did not agree with your views, and your presentation was political rather than economic, I gave you a good grade.
      Best, Saadia

  4. absolutely no maa’m.. no offence and no feeling of criticism..:) ofcourse this is democracy to listen and accept other people views and ideas and we shuld tolerate..:) yea i agree that my presentation went more of political rather then economic but yea i rememba u gave me 7.5..:) i planned it in a way that first i will give some intro about the war then my partner will talk about its impact on economy and at last i will conclude with remedy..:) more then anything u r my teacher and i have more respect for u then anything.. it was amazing to have that course with u..:) v really enjoyed.. u have your own views and i have my own and surely everyone has rite to disagree…:) jus wanted to prove my stance on it.. thats it..:)
    but lets give piece a chance lets have a change this time.. bohat azma liya in logo ko 3 3 baar lets try imran khan this time..:)

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