NationalVolume 13 Issue # 13

Imran’s hurdles

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has won a legal battle for his survival in the Supreme Court and hopes to win the general election. However, he still faces some hiccups which will continue to trouble him before and after the polls, even if he wins. The media and women, funded by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will come up with new reports and allegations to malign his image in Pakistan and abroad.


The intention of some media houses is already clear. They twist and distort his words and interviews to create a bad impression about him. If he says he has reformed the police, hospitals and schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where his party rules, but it is still not enough and according to international standards, the media blares out, “Imran accepts his failure in KP.” It attempts to highlight issues in KP to prove that nothing has changed in the province where the party with a slogan of change is ruling. Two women, sponsored by the PML-N, are already out to defame him, his former wife Reham Khan and estranged PTI MNA Ayesha Gulalai. Reham believes he should be disqualified by the Supreme Court for “hiding their marriage from the public for two months.” Reportedly, she is also writing a book to defame him, which will be released weeks before the election. Gulalai has accused him of sending her “indecent” messages, but she has not provided proof of her claim at any forum. It is said few more women will come up against him with similar allegations ahead of elections.


Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan after Imran Khan forced it to hear the Panama case following protests for months. The former prime minister and his party will seek revenge and employ all possible resources to defame and stop him from winning the next election. Some media houses, sponsored by the ruling party, are on the forefront against him. They twist and spin reports to portray that he is a sympathizer of the Taliban and unfit to lead the country. Few days ago, to a question by a journalist he said he was dangerous. It became a headline of all news bulletins for the whole day and flashed by newspapers the next day. The gist of the report was that he had himself admitted that he was a bad guy.


Another report accused him of using helicopters of the KP government illegally. It said the provincial government had spent millions of rupees on the use of its two helicopters. “The PTI chief used the KP government’s helicopters free of charge for a total of 74 hours to travel approximately 18,000 kilometres. The provincial government recorded in its books a total expense of Rs2.1 million at approximately Rs28,865 per hour for his 40 trips on two helicopters — an Mi-171 and an Ecureuil. Similar trips using a private helicopter would have cost the PTI chief tens of millions of rupees,” it added. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took notice of the report and ordered an inquiry against him and the chief minister. However, the provincial government clarified that he had never used any official helicopter for his private and personal use. “Imran Khan never used the helicopters alone and he was always accompanied by ministers and advisers on their official tours,” it said in a statement.


Then, Imran was accused of awarding tickets to billionaires for the Senate elections. A report said he had awarded tickets to Azam Swati, Khiyal Zaman Orakzai, Ayub Afridi, Faisal Javed Rana, Fida Hussain, Abdul Latif Yousufzai and Dr. Meher Taj Roghani, who were billionaires. His interview to a British newspaper was twisted and moulded by the Pakistani media to create an impression that he had no strategy for the development of Pakistan and only the Taliban and the establishment wanted to see him as the next prime minister of the country. He talked about a wide-range of issues but only negative aspects of his interview were highlighted.


Last month, the media launched a smear campaign against him over his third marriage, which has not happened yet. He was accused of causing a split between his spiritual guide and her husband to pave the way for his marriage with her. His morality was also questioned for “eying” his spiritual leader during his visits to her residence. However, Imran Khan broke his silence about his possible third marriage after speculation and said he had only proposed to her through a common friend after her divorce and she had sought time to consult her family, especially her children, before making any decision.


Later, there was a series of interviews of his former wife Reham Khan on news channels. She told a channel that she had left Pakistan after “receiving threats.” She alleged that she had been receiving threatening phone calls since September last year. She also shared with a news channel an audio recording of a person, who allegedly made intimidating statements to her coordinator, warning him against working with her. In another interview, she wondered how the Supreme Court could declare him honest when he had hid his marriage with her for over two months. “The Supreme Court’s observation that he is kind-hearted does not match his character. What can I say and what can I do if the highest court of law tags him as a friendly and trustworthy person. I can only tell you based on my experience. I don’t know what measures or what rules they have applied,” she observed. Ayesha Gulalai also appeared on many news channels but failed to provide evidence of her claims. She has been exposed, like Reham Khan. People will not believe them after they failed to bring substantial proof against him.


There is also a possibility that more women will level charges against Imran as the election nears. More reports and details will emerge about his personal life. Besides Reham’s book, there are also reports of some people making documentaries to malign him. However, it appears no propaganda can work against him because his young and educated followers have blind faith in him. They will not believe even if he kills somebody, considering it propaganda of the ruling party.