16 April 2012

Pakistan - A Personal history: Overview

Date: 16th April 2012

“Pakistan – A personal History” is the autobiography of Imran Khan, in which he has told his story along with the story of Pakistan. He has written 5 books earlier but this one attracted more spotlight due to his sudden political rise. This book was launched in last months of 2011. An Urdu version of the book was launched this year a couple of months ago. This book not only provides an insight in the life on Imran Khan but also works as a window to look in his political philosophy and agenda.

Imran Khan was born in Lahore in 1952. He belongs from Niazi tribe of district Mianwali, which is located on border of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw. He studied in prestigious Aitcheson College Lahore. In 1971, through his family connections, He managed to make his test cricket debut against England in England at the age of 19. This match proved to be a failure for him. He joined Oxford University for further studies. After completion of his studies he joined Pakistan cricket team on merit. He became captain of the team in 1983 and led the team till 1992. Pakistan won the cricket world cup of 1992 under his captaincy. After retirement he successfully carried out a fund raising campaign and in 1994 he established Pakistan’s first cancer hospital. In 1996 he formed his political Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), since then He has been actively involved in politics.

He did not enjoy as much success in politics as much he had in cricket and hospital fund raising. However after his party’s historical gathering of 30th October 2011 in Lahore, political landscape of Pakistan changed entirely and he emerged as a genuine popular leader. His political career was at his peak at the Karachi Gathering on 25th December 2011. Many political leaders entered his party including PPP and PML-N stalwarts, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Javed Hashmi respectively. This book is very significant and everyone was waiting for it because Imran Kahn has suddenly become one of the top political leaders of the country. He has become the so-called third force after PPP and PML-N.

This book has 10 chapters in total. It’s written for the readers living abroad of Pakistan. It’s written in a way that it addresses foreign readers. Certain terms and things which are commonly known in Pakistan have been elaborated for foreign readers who are unfamiliar with them. Imran Kahn’s target readers are people of UK and USA in particular, due to his long time spent in UK and the current war on terror is led by USA. This book projects Imran Kahn as a strong person who has managed to successfully face the odds each and every time in his illustrious life.

In initial chapters of the book, Imran khan describes his childhood life in graphic detail. He explains his way of living in his family home of Zaman park, Lahore. He also tells the readers about his adventures of partridge hunting in Kalar Kahar and tours of northern areas with his family. Other children can only dream of a life that He has lived in his Childhood. Readers are fully absorbed by the description of Imran khan’s childhood and they are compelled to fantasize Imran Khan’s picnic trips and other moments of enjoyment.

Next, He tells the story of his teenage. He recalls his life in prestigious Aitcheson College and the way he was taught and trained for later stages of his life. Imran has also discussed the hard times faced during Indo-Pak war of 1965. Starting form Quaid-e-Azam, He has also thrown light on every leader, according to his understanding and point of view. He has criticized the military dictators but his views echo with that of establishment.

He has devoted couple of chapters exclusively for his personal life. He has explained how his mother’s death due to cancer brought the idea in his mind to build a cancer hospital. How the cancer hospital was built and what hardships were faced during its construction are also discussed. The way he raised funds for the hospital is most adorable thing in the book. First he asked people to bring donations to him, then he himself went to rich people for donations, after that he started fund raising campaigns on roads, streets and in schools, everywhere in Pakistan. Due to years of successful fund raising he successfully managed to establish a cancer hospital in the name of his mother at a total cost of 22 million dollars. This was one of the biggest achievements for any citizen of Pakistan. This book has been excellently used to portray an image of Imran khan as a person fully devoted and passionate about social welfare and charity work. This can prove very useful in his re-born political career. 

Imran Khan’s marriage with Jemima Goldsmith gained a lot of attention from International media. This colorful marriage of Imran khan has a complete chapter in the book. Imran’s life story will be incomplete without mention of his marriage. Imran khan has discussed the difficulties faced by his ex-wife in settling in Pakistan and the problems created by his political opponents for his wife. Imran khan has also told the reason for his divorce with Jemima in 2004 which were based on cultural differences and Jemima’s inability to completely settle in Pakistan.

Imran khan’s relationship with General Pervez Musharraf and his views on war on terror are the center stage of the book. He has explained why he initially supported the General and why their ways parted in 2002. Imran khan has written that Musharraf brought Coalition of the crooked (PML-Q) in power, that’s why he left the General Musharraf. Interestingly, now Imran is allowing the same members of PML-Q to join his party. He was a bitter critic of Musharraf regime and regularly criticized the general and his cronies. Now he feels no remorse in accepting ex-cronies of Musharraf in his party, PTI. This is yet another example that there are no principles and morals in politics.

Second last chapter of the book is dedicated to the tribal areas. He has told a brief history of the tribal areas and how the ongoing conflict started when army entered there in 2002. He goes on to explain the tribal culture and their code of honor. He elaborates his point with account of his personal visits to Waziristan. He has strongly argued against the use of force in FATA and denounced all ongoing and previous military operations. He has termed Swat operation of 2009 “Operation Rah-e-Raast” as an act to persuade America to give more aid to Pakistan government. He has convincingly explained his case that America’s presence in the region is responsible for all the trouble in FATA. He has also given his solution that all military operations should be halted and every dispute should be resolved with negotiations as tribal people of FATA can never be conquered as proven by history. This is one of the most useful chapters of entire book.

Overall the book is very interesting. Last chapter about Allama Iqbal’s philosophy is also worth reading. There is much to learn and know about Imran Khan and Pakistan from this book. However the book has certain shortcomings as well. Imran has written a complete chapter about FATA and only one paragraph about Balochistan. Both Balochistan and FATA are very much alike for their culture and armed conflicts. This reflects Imran Khan’s level of knowledge and understanding about Balochistan, which is very low. From the perspective of people of Balochistan he is no different from previous rulers. He has also not criticized current establishment for the blunders committed by it. This book somehow reflects that Imran Khan has a soft corner for military establishment, which is not very encouraging from the point of view of an aware citizen of Pakistan. Establishment is responsible for most of the problems in Pakistan.

Imran khan has been a successful cricketer, a social worker, Philanthropist and a playboy. Everyone can only dream about living a life that Imran Khan has lived but can he be a successful politician? This book has not been able to answer this question completely. In fact, it has cast shadows on Imran khan’s capability as a leader. If Imran has to be different from previous Politicians then He to has change his thinking about Military establishment and has to gain more knowledge about neglected areas of Pakistan. Only then he can be savior of Pakistan, otherwise He would be remembered as on ordinary political leader.

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