|Imran Khan and the fallacies of logic
Daily: Daily Times
Date: 13. 08.14
On August 10, 2014, a press release issued by the office of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek
(PAT) used the words the “leader of the revolution” to describe Dr Tahirul Qadri. With that
the debate of who will lead the masses to construct a Tahrir Square at D-Chowk,
Islamabad, has ended. Earlier the Chaudhrys of Gujrat endeavoured to convince Dr Qadri
to join hands with them as equal partners to launch the revolution. Dr Qadri hurriedly left
that press conference without any such announcement (or a joint declaration) and thereby
left the Chaudhrys flabbergasted and mortified. The second attempt of the Chaudhrys to be
subservient to Dr Qadri has been successful. Who will be the leader in ousting the sitting
government was also a point of conflict between Imran Khan and Dr Qadri. In this case,
however, the point has been settled that both will be the leaders and reinforce each other’s
The credit for this ‘make’ must go to Sheikh Rasheed who worked ardently and ceaselessly
behind the scenes to strengthen the hands of Dr Qadri by getting political forces to either
submit to or buttress Dr Qadri’s revolution. This sort of political permutation is a case study
that reveals how politicians make compromises on democratic principles just for the sake of
getting their share in power. Secondly, the study lays bare the mindset of politicians as to
what extent they will go to destabilise the political system.
On August 8, Naseem Zehra, the host of talk show, Hum Sub, conducted an interview of
Khan. Khan’s replies to Ms Zehra’s questions exposed the state and quality of his
reasoning ability: Khan draws fallacious analogies and arrives at erroneous conclusions.
For instance, Khan quoted the example of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and equated Nawaz
Sharif with him. From the same premise, Khan drew the strength of his argument and
labelled Sharif’s rule as ‘kingship’. Ms Zehra did not ask him a question: whether your
problem is with the rigging of elections 2013 or the kingship of Sharif? In fact, Khan
deliberately mentioned the name of Mubarak to provide fodder for Dr Qadri’s fiery
speeches and thereby tried to implicitly justify his revolution.
Khan also said that the long march or the Azaadi (Independence) March (laden with a
political agenda) that his party intended to conduct on August 14 was justifiable because
Sharif (and his political party) had also conducted one such march to restore the higher
judiciary. Ms Zehra did not ask him a question: why did you not initiate a long march for the
restoration of the judiciary? At that time, the lawyers (many of whom are now members of
Khan’s party) had been agitating for the restoration of the judiciary for several months.
Khan and his party were also around but failed to stir the masses to initiate a long march.
On the other hand, Sharif was being blamed for his complacency by the same group of
lawyers who once met him en bloc. Sharif started the long march without any political
agenda and achieved his goal. In that long march, Khan remained a participatory follower
(who took refuge in a house in Islamabad) and not a participatory leader. Ms Zehra did not
ask him another question: do you consider your political stature a match for Sharif’s? In
fact, Sharif has a larger political following. The army has realised this reality and submitted
Khan also said that his party had a democratic right to launch a long march and stage a sit-
in in Islamabad. He quoted and derived the strength of his argument from the anti-Iraq war
protest that took place in London and was participated in by thousands of people. Ms Zehra
did not ask him a question: did the anti-war protesters start a sit-in in front of parliament or
Number 10, Downing Street? Did they give any ultimatum to the government about would
they do if their demands were not met? It is known that in London there are places (or
parks) where people are allowed to assemble, deliver speeches and disperse. Their
protests are recorded but it is not binding on the government to submit to their demands.
Ms Zehra should also have asked another question: when did the last sit-in take place in
London and what ultimatum did the protestors give to the government? Does his party also
intend to protest against any (war) policy of the sitting government of Pakistan? Ms Zehra
also did not ask him why the democratic right of protest against a sitting government should
be used in the place of choice of the protestors.
Khan is very fond of quoting the political principles prevailing in England. Last week, in a
speech delivered to the workers of his party and the Pakistani audience in general, Khan
said that he remained a student of political science in England and had been there playing
cricket for several years. On the basis of that experience, Khan claimed that he was more
aware of the kind of modern democracy prevailing in England. No one asked him a
question: did you participate in the political process and contest any elections in England?
What is your practical political experience in England?
In 2002, in the hope of becoming the prime minister, Khan joined the martial law regime of
General Pervez Musharraf. Khan could not realise his political objectives and afterwards
kept lamenting his decision and apologised for the decision to the public. In 2014, Khan has
made another political blunder by — implicitly — prompting and supporting Dr Qadri who
does not believe in the constitution and the democratic process. It is yet to be seen when
Khan regrets this decision too and apologises once again to the public at large.
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