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Why a foreign-born scholar joined Team Tsunami Khan?

The News report

LONDON: A foreign-born scholar of Pakistani descent, Dr Azeem Ibrahim, a PhD from Cambridge University, a former Research Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a World Fellow at Yale, world’s top three seats of learning, has joined Imran Khan and has been named his Strategic Policy Development Advisor.


In a special article for The News, Dr Azeem said it was time the country achieved its “second independence” and threw off the denigrating suggestions that it is a failed state, a client state or a country on the brink of disaster.

He writes: “When Pakistan became independent in 1947, its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisaged a democratic country embodying the essential principles of Islam, rather than being a theocratic state. “Sixty five years later, his vision of a democratic state has yet to be fully realized. Pakistan is still awaiting true independence – freedom from being a client state, freedom from fear of its neighbour India and freedom from economic disasters, military adventurism and political instability.


“To achieve these freedoms, Pakistan must look to new leadership – strong, informed and visionary yet pragmatic leadership. This is why I joined the team of Imran Khan, chairman of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party and likely the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. As a foreign-born Pakistani and independent academic, I look at Pakistan with pride in my heritage and great hopes for its political and economic future.


Pakistan has lurched from one unfulfilled democratic government to military rule and back again – each change bringing false hopes for meaningful change. Without respect for a strong constitution, Pakistan’s leaders so far have been unable to rise above the enormity of Pakistan’s problems and all in their different ways have failed to bring real democracy to the country.


The corruption and nepotism which has marred Pakistan’s politics continues to offset the power struggles between mosque, military and political parties. Some of the most refreshing revelations came recently with the release of thousands of classified US State Department cables through WikiLeaks.


The published cables revealed that Pakistan saw the drone attacks as so effective that they wanted some of their own. President Asif Ali Zardari “made repeated pleas for drones to be put in Pakistan’s hands, so that Pakistan would own the issue and drone attacks (including collateral damage) would not provoke anti-Americanism”, one of the cables said. Another Pakistani leader is quoted as saying about the drone attacks,” I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”


Also revealed was the duplicity of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders who had informed the Americans that, in spite of the party’s demands to have the chief justice reinstated, they did not really care for Iftikhar Chaudhry and hoped to remove him once they had scored the requisite political points. Denials were immediately forthcoming but the many disclosures from WikiLeaks – often in less than diplomatic language – prove the duplicity and corruption of politics endemic in Pakistan today.


After a careful reading of the WikiLeaks cables relating to Pakistan, I established that Imran Khan was the only person who said the same thing in private that he said in public and I am convinced that this was a man and a movement I could be associated with as an independent academic and policy expert.


After meeting with Imran Khan on several occasions, I was even more convinced that he is the leader Pakistan needs to move the country forward, finally realizing the destiny that Jinnah had envisioned. Our long and detailed sessions discussing his plans for a new Pakistan, reveal a man with an unusual ability to absorb complex information and to ask the right questions. His recognition that there are no simplistic solutions is a necessary starting point – it is not the economy, the military budget, the lack of spending on education, jobs and healthcare – it is a combination of all of these within the global environment of diminishing resources that needs addressing. The changing nature of the European Community and the shifting economies of China and the United States all must be factored in to Pakistan’s future and I believe that Imran Khan has the capacity as statesman, not just politician, to understand these complexities as well as to deal with national issues.


I feel privileged to be invited to be a part of the planning process, and to be considered a strategic policy adviser to the Khan campaign as it transitions from an opposition party to a government in waiting. I believe that Imran Khan is not only the best hope for Pakistan right now, but he is the only hope and his success in the next election- whenever that will be – will be an embodiment of the hopes and dreams identified by Jinnah for Pakistan those sixty- five momentous years ago.

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