By Fareeha Qayoom
he book caught my eye during a business trip –I was browsing the mall near my hotel. I didn’t buy it then though, (I thought the price was a bit overrated!) Later, I regretted it because I finished my current book earlier than expected and had nothing to read before bed time or on the return flight.
I looked for his book at the airport – however, the bookstore didn’t have it in stock…so I bought Branson’s book “Screw it, let’s do it!” instead. Not a bad read for US $9.00. Unfortunately, I was able to finish it during the three hour flight – I had considerable wait ahead of me (waiting for my connecting flight) – so when I landed back in Karachi, Pakistan, I looked for Khan’s book again – lo and behold – it was pricey here too – PKR 1095 but what the heck, I was bored and needed something interesting to read so I bought it…I started it in Karachi (Wednesday afternoon) but finished it during the weekend at home (Sunday evening) – its thick and long and you can’t finish it in one sitting.
So what do I think about the book?! – I think, it’s a sales pitch – it screams at you, “Vote for me – I am the only ‘honest’ candidate around for the next prime minister of Pakistan and I am ready to do this job now!”
His list of achievements/credentials for the job – leading Pakistan’s cricket team, winning the 1992 world cup, setting up Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and a university in Mianwali and his philanthropic work during the earthquake and floods…yes, it takes considerable leadership/management skills, not to mention, selflessness to achieve all that and I am not knocking it, however, running a country is a bit different from running a cricket team or fund raising for a hospital…so I am not sold on his credentials! I need more…besides, as a politician, he hasn’t achieved much except lots and lots of air time on cable television ripping PPP and N League to pieces.
He tells me nothing about his potential team of ministers in this book – so voting for him or voting for Sharif, Bhutto-Zardari and Musharraf would be no different; they’re all one-man show(s) – you know, it takes a skilled team of people (read ministers) to run a government – He also doesn’t talk about an effective economic policy…except he does tell you he would invest in education and health sector for the ordinary Joe (read Aslam) and he would try to free Pakistan from IMF. Good aspirations that, but hardly a concrete plan for achieving those lofty goals…he also gives you his solution for an exit strategy from Afghanistan…words to the effect, ‘pull out of the deal with USA, turn neutral and stop bombing our own people as we are making new enemies in our own backyard… and let’s not be another Cambodia.’
Khan rambles on a bit at times – you know sometimes, he jumps ahead and then goes back down a memory lane – so it’s a bit tough keeping the timeline together if you picked up this book to get the history of the country…yes, his view of Pakistan is interesting from inside out. However, his suddenly discovering Islam through Mian Bashir and boning up on Iqbal seems pretty superficial to me on the face of it, unfortunately, he doesn’t give you more details on his transformation/turning over a new leaf and leaving behind the life of superficial hedonistic pleasure – however, to me, it only seems like a change of clothes – besides, why change clothes anyway? Be yourself – after all, he is a Pakistani with considerable international exposure, with a foreign degree from Oxford, rich and successful in his own right and he does belong to Pakistan’s elite. Why try to hide the facts behind a shalwar Kameez suit? Jinnah never did.