I like and admire Imran Khan. He seems to be a decent man trying to do something different in Pakistani politics, to win on the strength of his arguments. But yesterday’s attack on his house in Bani Gala by his own supporters is troubling for a number of reasons:
- if he is to have any chance of turning his movement into a coherent political party then he has to be a strong enough leader to keep dissidents in line – or at least stop them attacking his house
- was it entirely wise to have Shireen Mazari firing out angry statements drawing attention to a matter which might have been best dealt with quietly? The police after all say they haven’t received a complaint
- is this a foretaste of what might happen if his PTI party fails to win a tsunami at the elections?
If I was an adviser to Imran Khan I would begin by suggesting he dial down the rhetoric and lower expectations a little. Start to be realistic about the number of seats within his party’s reach (and in the campaign, focus resource there rather than across the nation). And perhaps try to keep some of the stories of splits and disputes out of the papers. Oh, and sack Shireen Mazari.
Imran is on to something. He could reshape Pakistani politics – for the better. I suspect this election is still one too early for him. The anger within his party at the internal elections – particularly from his relatives furious at not getting senior positions – tells me he is doing the right thing but that he might be doing the right thing a bit too close to the elections.