Imran & Pakistan!

Editor’s note: Imran Khan’s rally in Karachi on 24th December showed that the success of his not too old Lahore rally success was not a flash in the pan. But is Imran the future of Pakistan’s politics? Is he the one who can undertake the herculean task and turn Pakistan around? Read also : “Is Imran Khan the New Deal for Punjab?” in Op-EdNews:


By: Brig. F. B Ali(R)

The large crowds drawn by Imran Khan in his recent public meetings, especially the ones in Lahore and Karachi, have led to much commentary in the media, mostly focussed on the political implications of this development. But the real significance of this has little to do with the political future of Imran Khan or his party. What makes it meaningful and exciting is the fact that it shows that large numbers of Pakistanis, especially the young and educated strata, have not given up on the country, and still have hope that it can be rescued from the desperate state it is in. They flock to Imran’s meetings because he offers them a focus for their hopes and efforts.

However, if these enthusiastic and idealistic rescuers are to succeed in the difficult task ahead of them, they must get the first step right. And that is to be crystal clear in their thinking as to what Pakistan is, and what it is not. Much confusion exists, often deliberately created, on this crucial question. Pakistan is not a territory defined by certain borders, it is not a government in Islamabad, it is not some idea or ideology, nor is it a pillar or bastion of Islam (as many would like to portray it). This country is its people. Pakistan is the people who live in it.

This fallacy, that a country is something other than its people, is a deadly one, for it will destroy a country. This fatal fallacy is not peculiar to Pakistan; it is, and has been, endemic in human polities. The results are always the same: the people ‘opt out’ of the country, they transfer their allegiance to other things, the country and state are hollowed out. For a while they can be maintained by trickery, bribery or repression, but their foundations are so weakened that ultimately they will fall, due either to internal or external pressures.

This is the inevitable outcome, whether the object replacing the people is a person or group (as in Bourbon France (L’etat, c’est moi!), Czarist Russia, Mubarak’s Egypt or Qaddafi’s Libya), or an ideology (the Soviet Union’s perverted Communism), or something else. Marginalized, the people had no stake in their countries and effectively opted out; without the commitment of the people to the country, the states could not survive. The graveyard of history is dotted with the ruins of fallen empires and failed states that fell prey to this fallacy.

Paradoxically, we see this process occurring today even in countries that claim to be democracies. Democracy, after all, is the system that evolved in order to ensure that country and state were equated with the people. However, in many Western democracies, unrestrained capitalism has enabled big corporations and the very wealthy to capture the state. Their people no longer feel that their countries belong to them or that the state works for them, and are becoming increasingly alienated.

Pakistan was not created by Muhammad Ali Jinnah as just another country in a newly demarcated piece of land. He carved out a territory from the subcontinent so that the people who lived in it could lead better lives than they would be able to in an undivided India. These people were mostly Muslims, but his vision encompassed all who lived or chose to live in this new country, whatever their religion or ethnicity. All of us who joined this great struggle under his leadership were quite clear that this is what we were fighting for. The religious parties and groups that now claim that Pakistan was created to be an Islamic state bitterly opposed its creation, because they knew then that this was not what it was meant to be.

Pakistan’s greatest tragedy was that Jinnah did not live long enough to set his new country on the path that he envisioned for it. Instead of the real democracy that he wanted, which would have aligned the country with its people, his successors instituted a fake one in which feudal landlords ruled, treating the people as landless serfs to be exploited. Intermissions of rule by military dictators made no difference, for they were as self-serving as the politicians. Pakistan’s history is a sad tale of its ruling class plundering the country while its people survived as best they could.

It is not surprising that more and more of the people of Pakistan have, over the years, opted out of the country. The great majority, who live at the bottom of the economic and social structure, have switched their allegiance from Pakistan to concentrate on self-preservation; their allegiance is now to self, family and clan. The well-off send their children abroad to study and, if possible, find jobs there; they also strive for foreign citizenship for themselves and their families. The rich move their money abroad, and maintain homes there; they stay in Pakistan only so long as they can continue to squeeze more loot out of the country.

Many Pakistanis, feeling abandoned by their country, have done what Muslims tend to do when in dire straits ─ seek solace in their religion. Unfortunately, since the 1970s, an extremist version of Islam has been propagated in the country, to which many Pakistanis have switched their allegiance. From this stance, it is but a short step to move into militancy, thus creating the Islamist insurgency that is wracking Pakistan nowadays.

One of the most damaging aspects of this fallacy for the country has been the brainwashing of the military by its leaders (and the rulers) into believing that Pakistan is just a territory marked by its borders, and this is what they are charged to defend. While the military was defending the land of Pakistan, the real Pakistan ─ the people of the country ─ was being invaded and pillaged from within its borders. It was this fallacious belief that led to the loss of half the country in 1971. Even today, it is sad to see that the most patriotic, cohesive and powerful group in Pakistan ─ the younger officers of the military, and the men they command ─ continue to stand guard over the land, sacrificing life and limb in this endeavour, while their country is being lost from within.

If Pakistan is to be saved, whoever would embark on this Herculean task must remember that what they have to save and succour are the people, for they are the real Pakistan. This must be the foundation of whatever enterprise is launched to rescue the country. It must be the goal of everyone who participates in this mission.

Pakistan is its people!

NOTE: Following the 1971 war, Brigadier Furrukh B. Ali was retired by Bhutto in 1972 and spent five
years in prison after the Attock conspiracy trial. He moved to Canada in 1979 and worked in the
civil service there. Married with two children, F.B. Ali now leads a retired life in Toronto.

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  • Shahbaz  On December 26, 2011 at 9:54 am

    good analysis by brig FB ali

    Muhammad Shahbaz Thuthaal

  • Shahid  On December 26, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Presently,Imran is our hope.Untainted so far.he has done commendable welfare and people-oriented work.I am pleased to see that he he is separating the good and clean guys from the corrupt party leaders.Actually he has an advantage,that is,there is no conflict-of-interests in his working to become a political leader,as he is neither a feudal nor a industrialist or businessman.His interest will be the people,and that should carry the day for him.

  • GRK  On December 26, 2011 at 10:18 am

    in my opinion,imran khan ultimate victory in the election is still a big question. however what his gathering has done is that it has brought a fresh wind of optimism in the country where there is the crises of leadership. people are fed up with the old faces who have failed to solve any problem. in this major parties PPP and PML N are in the front of un popularity.grk

  • Brig Latif  On December 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    A very well thought out and well written article, which highlights and addresses the most crucial and the most neglected aspect of our national life today. People are a more important component of any nation than its geographical boundary. If people are lost, or if people lose heart and hope, nothing can save a nation from disaster.
    We lost East Pakistan because we lost the people of that province. If the people of East Pakistan had stood with Pakistan, no power in the world could have broken it.
    In whatever is left of Pakistan the process of ‘losing the people’ started during Zia regime and doesn’t seem to be stopping anywhere. We are today a nation divided and splintered on every account. There is hardly any aspect of our national life which reflects unity. That is the reason people in this country are either busy looting it (make hay while the sun shines) or running away from it (make way before it is too late).
    The biggest challenge for any national and patriotic Pakistani leader today is to ‘rescue’ the people of Pakistan. He has to think and devise ways and means to pick up pieces and shape them back into a nation. He has to be honest, bold and ruthless in curbing all the centrifugal tendencies, failing which there is no hope.

  • Anwar Ahmed  On December 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    A very clear thought provoking piece. from a clearheaded person. It needs a broader circulation

  • Saeed A. Malik  On December 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    This is the best piece on the subject of the reality of Pakistan that I have read so far. I hope someone can take it to Imran and ensure that he reads it. Imran is the one leader to have given back something to Pakistan, while most of the others have stolen from it. That makes him unique. But he must be conscious of the fact that the present wave was not his creation. He was the last man standing when he met the wave, and is thus riding it. If he thinks that he created it, he will be overwhelmed by it. If he has the humility to see it as it is, he will be served by it, and will continue being uplifted by it. The people of Pakistan seem finally to have realised that corruption in high places is their real bane, and will spell their doom. Imran is the only leader who has been pointing this out for years. As this realisation came to our people, so they have gravitated to him. Massive support is very heady wine. If Imran is conscious of this, he will go far, and take us with him. If not, it will turn out to be yet another false promise. But my joy for the present is, that at least we are seeing the dawn of the promise, when all seemed to have been lost.
    Saeed A. Malik.

  • TMH  On December 27, 2011 at 2:23 am

    NS and his cohorts are licking dirt, they deserve that, he missed the train, now he can do one thing
    he should join his brother in law AAZ’s gang.


    • Hasan Chand  On December 30, 2011 at 4:50 am

      Signs have been there for long that there is a Mukmuka between the political parties to continue to rule the common people for ever either by being in coalition with the rulers or even in the opposition and make hay because of their covert agreements & related influences.

      May ALLAH save us from their intrigues & plots.

      HC in Karachi

  • Brig Larif  On December 27, 2011 at 2:24 am

    A very well thought out and well written article, which highlights and addresses the most crucial and the most neglected aspect of our national life today. People are a more important component of any nation than its geographical boundary. If people are lost, or if people lose heart and hope, nothing can save a nation from disaster.
    We lost East Pakistan because we lost the people of that province. If the people of East Pakistan had stood with Pakistan, no power in the world could have broken it.
    In whatever is left of Pakistan the process of ‘losing the people’ started during Zia regime and doesn’t seem to be stopping anywhere. We are today a nation divided and splintered on every account. There is hardly any aspect of our national life which reflects unity. That is the reason people in this country are either busy looting it (make hay while the sun shines) or running away from it (make way before it is too late).
    The biggest challenge for any national and patriotic Pakistani leader today is to ‘rescue’ the people of Pakistan. He has to think and devise ways and means to pick up pieces and shape them back into a nation. He has to be honest, bold and ruthless in curbing all the centrifugal tendencies, failing which there is no hope.

  • Zubair  On December 27, 2011 at 2:25 am

    A fair assessment indeed. What the rulers have always neglected is the Pakistanis whom they used as voters only. People have never mattered. What Imran is ding right is connecting the people. However, t be able to get to power, he has to convert this asset into votes—-THAT in our politics is a completely different ball game. One reason why the PPP is not worried about Imran’s massive support is the fact that getting votes is the job of expert mafia specially when you are in power. Taht is why Zardrai’s servants repeatedly say,” pata tau chalay ga jab voting hogi”. I my opinion. if all those who attended his rallies and millions who were glued to heir TV sets in sincere support of his cause “cast” their votes, he will, insha Allah, have an opportunity to change the shape of things in Pakistan.

  • muradali shaikh  On December 27, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Imran Khan is a good worker for Pakistan and a leader, but his organization has not many skilled and qualified team to manage the whole country. Imran Khan’s party should have form government with another party whose credentials are excellent in providing relief to the flood and earth quake victims and majority of the population supports them. Read about their rallies and programmes —

  • Faisal Imam  On December 27, 2011 at 3:31 am

    thank u for this article;Brigadier sahib.
    Great to see the voice of the people coming from Canada.
    Request is to make the locals in uniform understand these hometruths.

  • Pakistan Foundation  On December 27, 2011 at 3:34 am

    We have given the reason of analysis before levelling allegations and it is
    shown in red this time for your easy reference.

    ( Imran Khan was the staunch opponent of MQM and Altaf last year
    but today he didn’t utter a single word about their much talked
    terrorism ).

    Even after that MQM / Altaf which were not letting imran to touch Karachi airport
    are welcoming him with open arms and Imran has also taken his hands off from the file
    which was all about the crimes of MQM and Altaf. Do you think these things are
    happening just by chance or by mistake or are well calculated or planned?

    Just ponder.

    Pakistan Foundation

  • Munir Varraich  On December 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Brigadier F.B.Ali has used the words “Pakistanis” as the “people” inhabiting this geographical entity which got named after 1947 as “Pakistan”.

    What happened on 30th October in Lahore and again on 25th December in Karachi is a phenomenon which is unique. For the first time in the history of this state the people gathered under the banner of “Pakistanis”.

    In 1947 Jinnah addressed the Musalmans of the British India who had collectively created a “unique” nation state – Pakistan. They were on the road to becoming Pakistanis.

    1956 the people were told that the “state” is “Pakistan” but the people must become “Muslims” first and then Pakistanis.

    1971 the people were told that the “state” is “New Pakistan” but the people are Sindhi, Punjabis, Baluchis, and Pathans, first and then “Pakistanis”.

    1977-1988: The people were told that they are only “Islamists” and “Jihadis” fight against the infidel.

    2001 – 2008: The people were told that they are NOT to be JIhadists nor Muslims and neither socialists, just individuals. As for the “state” the slogan remained “Pakistan First”, no mention of the people.

    2008-2011 : The people were told to remain busy with “worshipping” the dead, be it political leaders or other saints. Thus many died both physically and spiritually every day,

    Comes 30th October 2011, exaxctly 23 days after the date 7th October 2011, when collective prayers and a weekly fast (roza) started all over the world for the “people of Pakistan”.

    For the first time the people of the “state” of “Pakistan” gathered as “Pakistanis” in body and spirit. – no Islamists, no Sindhis, no Baluchis, no Pathans.

    PTI should remain a party of “Pakistanis Only”. The Pakistan which PTI wants to make must also rise from this soil and the history of this land- no yanks, no Arab jubbas, and no bagpipes.


  • khan saheb  On December 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Its a well-penned article but I doubt whether Brig Ali is taking Imran Khan seriously. Imran’s reference to the context does not go beyond the first paragraph, which makes me wonder about the very purpose of the article. Is this more of the same?

    Imran may not be our ideal man but he seems to be the only hope in present hopeless situation ina face democracy and whether they are genuine or not, if other politicians are now rallying behind Imran too, then that is probably a good sign.

  • Rashid Latif  On December 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Dear Yasmeen,

    It is one of the most sensible articles that I have come across.

    I hope that you will remember my assertion that it is not an ideology or some religious bond that will keep the remaining Pakistan together. It is the welfare of the people living within the region now called Pakistan that will ensure the survival of this society.

    It is somewhat surprising that a highly accurate analysis and a pragmatic solution has been penned by an ex army officer, some one coming out of an institution that has been responsible for most of the ills of Pakistan right from the founding father of the military dynasty, the much trumpeted Ayub Khan.


    Rashid Latif Ansari

    • Munir Varraich  On December 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Dear Rashid Latif Ansari Sb.

      Do not under estimate your soldiers whether they are serving or retired. Brig F.B.Ali is one of the many. And just because they are in uniform, does not mean that they do not learn the art of “state craft” and “nation buidling”.

      As for “military dynasty”, I think that became the only solution after the 1950s “musical chairs” by the “political dynasties” when they used “religion” to remain in power.


      Munir Varraich

  • MAB  On December 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    More precisely Pakistan, after the separation of Bengal, is people living in Indus Valley.

    Their will to live together is embodied in the Constitution of !973.

    Its ideology is what was enunciated by Sir Syed, Iqbal and Jinnah.

    It is as simple as that. The Rest is just “Confusion”.


  • Rashid Latif  On December 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Dear Siraj,

    You are absolutely correct in your observation. F B Ali did not caption his article appropriately. He wanted to draw the attention of his readers to the ‘Imran phenomenon’ and wanted to drive his point home that no drastic change will take place in Pakistan, so long as the basic thinking does not change that the survival of Pakistan hinges on the economic betterment of its people and not on some politico-religious ideology.

    Like F B Ali, I also doubt whether Imran will be able to do anything different from his predecessors, so long as his popularity caravan is being steered by the ‘Establishment’.

    I have seen many faces that the establishment propped up from time to time to divert public frustrations. Some of those sincerely tried to make some changes, but their efforts were thwarted by the establishment, as soon as they sensed that such changes could affect their power and pelf. Karachi jalsa and Altaf’s congratulations on holding that jalsa clearly indicates, who is organising such events.

    It seems that Imran Khan would also be used as a tool of the establishment and will be thrown in the dustbin of history, after the establishment overcomes the present tide of unrest among Pakistanis.


    Rashid Latif

  • Imtiaz Hussain  On December 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    I have no objection of uprising of Imran khan alonwith old dogs now voing to become lions…. this concept is not new to us .. in the era of Prophet PBUH, he prayed for Hazrat Omar bin khatab and abu jehl to embrace Islam in order give Islam strenght to survive… resultantly Hazrat Omar embraced Islam and we know the circumstances how he accepted islam, not befor making her sister and brother in law bleed profusely,,, but once he accepted Islam no one ever referred to what he did in his period of ignorance. We must learn today also that people like Jahangir tareen, Shah Mehmood Quereshi or Javed Hashmi may be part of sins of previous or present rulers, if have agreed to be part of revival of Pakistan they must be welcome.. They are not the issue .. the real issue is Imran Khan.
    We all in Pakistan know so well that army is the real destroyer of Pakistan.. Since the days of Quaid, commander in cheif of army pakistani or engraiz have been dfying the writ of political power of Pakistan. and than since 1958, army actually opened up a sanctury in the name of national and provincial assemblies, to manufacture politiicians of their own design. The army still now when apparently not in power is the actual ruler of Pakistan. The civilian and military beaucracy is interlinked with each other thru detachments of ISI / MI situated in the heart of every district goernment hub and this network was established in particular in the days of traitor musharraf and through this network politicians are purchased and favoured to serve the interest of real masters of government of Pakistan. From ZA bhutto to Nawaz sharif all politicinas are manufactured in the military sanctury of Pakistan. the real fear is if Imran Khan is also a new addition to that long list..
    The real issue is that if Imran khan is the new addition to long list of manufactured politicians who have always though that by using estysablishment once they will reach to top would make the change, than nothing will going to happen and balkanization of Pakistan would be the end result of this latest tragedy….. if Imran Khan is not what I am suspecting him to be than the power of public is too less for him to change this system …. He may believe that all corrupt and incompetant at lower level will change once the top strata becomes corruption less … who will going to elect him not those fe millions in the city ,, the entire rural area is reigned by corrupt and in competant influential waderas and choudaries…..
    What must be done than !
    I dare to give the following suggestion to face this dire situation so Imran khan is not wasted like all other politicians

    Tehreek e Insaf must be joined by as many as possible
    Those who must join must be vocal about the role of army in Pakistan politics and at every moment the upper strata of PTI must be made clear and association with army must not be accepted no matterwhat outcome PTI may face in next elections
    The people in particular in rural areas must be mobilized against those waderas who hold them.. This is a very hard task indeed because the people still want things to move the way it is now because it is easy for them to manipulate power hub through wadera and bribe than through justice ….. but if Imran khan is truth than any effort such will be exteded will bear fruit.
    The workers of PTI must not adopt an apologitic apprach towards its Chairman. Imran Khan must be addressed head on and he must be made aware that if it is proven that he has any links with army or america the workers will not leave PTI, rather imran khan will be thrown out and new chairman will be elected…
    The workers must realize that PTI is now no more only of Imran Khan’s but it belongs to workers of PTI who were with Imran Khan when no one was with him.. ( I am definitely not one of those because even right now I am not formal memeber of PTI)
    Keep an eye on Imran Khan and I join PTI today to do that
    we just cannot be complacent now sit back in our drawing rooms sip tea and wait for imran khan to bring the miracle ….. we must realize that as he he move ahead we must watch his back so no one steal him from us

    long live Pakistan

  • Nasim Hassan  On December 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Imran Khan alone cannot change Pakistan. He will require thousands of top notch competent people and millions of dedicated people to change the destiny of a country where rich people remain greedy for money.

    We should not look for a savior but stand up for what is right. If the honest people of all parties do not join hands and stand up for justice nothing will happen.

    First thing that PTI must do is to collect revenues from all sources. Then start with the justice and police. Once there is a rule of law there would be tons of new investment coming in Pakistan.

    Once there is money and rule of law, the education of masses should be given priority.

    Since I have been living outside Pakistan, my question is:

    Are there competent and honest people available in Pakistan to take up the challenge?

    Nasim Hassan

  • FB Ali  On December 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    The title I gave this piece of mine was: What is Pakistan? The editor chose to give it the one seen here.

    My article is not about Imran Khan, it is about Pakistan.

    I am grateful to all those who have appreciated my article for their kind words.

    FB Ali

  • Mahmud Ansari  On December 28, 2011 at 7:16 am

    As usual, a well written article on the concept of statehood by Brig. F. B. Ali. State is not a land mass. It is a mass of people living in a particular land mass. Therefore, the only reason a State exists is for the welfare of the people. There is no second reason.

    I am reading Imran Khan’s Book these days. He seems to be clear about this concept. He knows that in order for Pakistan to do well, people of Pakistan must do well. Last night there was a talk show on a Pak TV channel. While reps of major political parties waffled about how hard they had struggled for democracy, and I am sure the audience must be turning livid hearing such nonsence, a rather unknown face representing PTI hit the nail on the head when he said that while the major parties looked after democracy, and whatever else they looked after, they forgot about the people of Pakistan, whose interests they were elected to defend.

    That was pretty close to what Brig. F. B. Ali has opined in his article.

    Mahmud Ansari

  • Tanja Fisher  On December 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Gute Post. I unterrichtet werden etwas schwieriger auf ganz andere Blogs Alltag. Es wird immer anregend, Inhalte Material von verschiedenen Autoren lesen und beachten Sie leicht etwas von ihrem Gesch?ft. Ich würde es vorziehen, einige mit dem Inhalt Material auf meinem Blog, ob es Ihnen nichts ausmacht zu verwenden. Natually Ich werde dich mit einem Hyperlink auf Ihrer Internet-Blog geben. Dank für das Teilen.

  • Quader Saeed  On June 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Will the Editor give me his telephone number or email address? I need to discuss something very important and confidential.


  • By What is Pakistan? « Area 14/8 on December 27, 2011 at 6:33 am

    […] in the civil service there. Married with two children,F.B. Ali now leads a retired life in Toronto.PAKPOTPOURRI EXCLUSIVE Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin Share with […]

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