THE BLOG

Interview with Imran Khan, Part Two - (From His Sit-In in Islamabad)

02/12/2014 14:09 GMT | Updated 22/01/2015 10:59 GMT

NK: From the upper-middleclass, you have someone like Faisal Javed (PTI's Deputy Information Secretary) who has long worked for you but then I know of someone barely from the middleclass who similarly started working for Shaukat Khanum in his teens; successfully completed a PhD. from Cambridge; returned with great enthusiasm to join your university and left thoroughly disgruntled and, more unfortunately, totally against you after little more than a year.

Does it not concern you that some highly progressive, educated people dismiss you as emotional, headstrong and without a credible blueprint for bringing about sustainable change in the country?

IK: No one should expect that all the people are going to be behind you. In all my life I've had controversy. When I used to play cricket, I stood up for neutral umpires. Previously, teams used to have their own umpires so I started this movement that there should be third-country umpires and succeeded. I got a lot of flak for it. The English and the Australians were particularly harsh on me.

Whenever you stand up for something, you always have people for you and against you but the point is: are the people of the country - the majority - getting the message? The answer is yes and as long as they are accepting that PTI is the party for the future, you're winning.

What are the alternatives in Pakistan? These two parties (PPP and PML-N) for the last 26 years have been taking turns in governing and their leaders have billions lying abroad. They don't pay taxes, they don't declare the source of income and, as a result, they've impoverished society. People either have the choice to stick with them or try out a party which, for the first time, in Pakhtunkhwa has been in power for one and a half years. We've tried to address the main problems of the people: police stations; hospitals; education; corruption and, above all, dealing with the government. We proposed thirty legislations, all for people's right to services.

NK: I spoke to Shahnaz Wazir Ali (a former PPP minister) recently and she was largely sympathetic to your cause. While she gave you credit for Shaukat Khanum, the work you've done in KPK so far, transparency in your financial dealings and thought your lack of baggage a positive point for your prospects, she voiced a few credible concerns: anything such as a financial plan to bring about the kind of change that would allow the country to shirk its dependency on the west; the absence of a plan of action if Nawaz Sharif does not resign; the inability to work with and form partnerships with other parties; and to use a phrase to sum up what she said with regard to the people attending your rallies and taking part in the sit-ins: "a swallow does not a summer make". Show of support by thirty to forty thousand people in urban centres does not make your movement a national movement let alone a revolution.

IK: In Karachi, it was one of the biggest rallies. In Lahore, it was the biggest rally ever in Pakistan. So firstly, it's wrong of her to say it was 40,000 people. Secondly, these parties are handled by crooks. Why would I want to form partnerships with them? These mafias don't want corruption to be exposed. How do the heads of the two parties have billions of rupees lying outside? Where is the source of income? These are not declared assets. If they declare them, they'll be done for corruption and tax evasion.

We cannot stand on our feet unless we collect taxes and stop haemorrhaging from corruption and three things will get Pakistan out of this debt trap: fighting corruption; raising revenues and cutting cost - this extravagance of our rulers, making people aware about taxes and thirdly, creating conditions for investment which you can only do by good governance.

More to the point, Shahnaz should ask herself, if she's that clean why is she behind a leader who is called Mr ten percent?

NK: Do you think TV channels should be as openly partisan as ARY? I've been led to believe by a reliable source that a prominent presenter has amassed a little personal fortune of his own since he's been toeing your line. It appears that some of those who support you are making money out of the situation. It's as though the crisis Pakistan is facing is a win-win situation for the rich - much as it has always been.

IK: Number one, the man who used politics as business, invested money, bought people and then had all his business interests bringing in huge money is Nawaz Sharif. When he was out of power, he shifted most of his money abroad, so my point is: we have never had enough money to pay journalists. It's the first time that political donations are being collected by a party. This has never happened in Pakistan - only big businesses or interest groups with big money. We know exactly the journalist bought by Nawaz.

NK: I know that Jemima is very sympathetic to your cause. In the past, she was highly supportive of the work you did for Shaukat Khanum and she, of course, has campaigned for you. Through notable broadsheets such as The Independent and The Guardian, she's tried to prop up your case to the west. I'd like to know how your politics sits alongside Zac's in an entirely different context.

IK: Well, she is the mother of my sons and we have a very good relationship. When I married her I got into politics so she knows my motivation in politics and she supports me.

NK: What about Zac's politics?

IK: I think Zac is a future leader in Britain because he has a belief system. He's not taking politics as a career but a mission. I only think people should take politics as a mission. Once it becomes a career, you become like bureaucrats - you're no longer leaders, you just toe the line like Tony Blair.

NK: You speak of Nawaz Sharif's failure to deliver, which is one of the reasons you think he should resign. So if you become PM., what would be the tangible measure of your failure after one year? And if you do fail according to your own standards, will you honorably resign after one year?

IM: No, the main reason is the biggest fraud in Pakistan's electoral history. I tried all the legal ways to expose this through the election commission, electoral tribunals, parliament, supreme court. Once all the doors were closed, that's when I told them I'll come out onto the streets for my right to protest. So the main issue is Nawaz Sharif, the ex-chief justice, the election commission and the caretaker government, all four were involved in this rigging.