Historians want to know from where Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan gets his history lessons. Obviously, the WhatsApp-forward uncles are in a tizzy because their jobs are at risk.
What is it that makes Imran Khan the invincible founder of Pakistan’s own WhatsApp University? It is the knowledge of the non-existent or the ability to talk without a parchi? His tales rival The Chronicles of Narnia.
Earlier this week, while giving a speech at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, he said that the Soviet Union failed because the system of punishment and reward ended there. China, on the other hand, is leaving the rest of the world behind because the meritocracy there is zabardast.
Now, many would ask, why did the medical professionals need this nugget from WhatsApp history? That is not important.
If we buy our PM’s version then the Gulag, a system of forced labour camps established during Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship, didn’t exist in the USSR. The 18 million people incarcerated in these camps lived like modern-day Maharajas with no punishments and only rewards. Imran Khan should know that many factors led to the fall of the Soviet Union — including its economy, ethnic strife, and the suppressive Communist regime.
And on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s meritocracy, the less said the better.
Germany to Africa to Europe
Our re-education from parallel history continues in Naya Pakistan.
Last year, Imran Khan said Germany and Japan shared borders, on which both the countries set up joint industries post-World War II. Yes, the war in which both attacked each other.
Staying on Japan and WWII, which seems to be our PM’s favourite subject, he argued that when the Japanese launched kamikaze attacks, blowing themselves up on American ships, no one blamed ‘Japanese religion’ for it. Now, you could question what is ‘Japanese religion’ — but Imran Khan clearly didn’t.
Moving on, if you believe our PM’s version, then Jesus Christ has ‘no mention in history’.
Closer to home, during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s February visit, Khan gleefully said the Turks had ruled the Indian subcontinent for about 600 years. Now some didn’t agree with the veracity of the claim, while others said he got it right. Don’t know about other leaders, but our PM jumps with joy on the mention of occupying forces.
Moving continents, Africa is a country for PM Imran Khan. And back in 2012, he shared with us how Europe had ‘never heard of a welfare state and they had taken the concept from the Muslim world’. “They formed all the Scandinavian states based on this concept. They call it Omar’s law there. We need to bring our culture back to our own land,” Khan said. When a Swedish historian Dr Håkan Blomqvist was asked about Omar’s law he was as shocked as most Pakistanis with Khan revelations. He said: “This is all news to me.” It turned out that Omar’s law was unknown in Scandinavia.
Tagore’s poetry to Pakistan’s 12 seasons
Not just history, even citing non-existent books, tweets and poetry is Imran Khan’s forte. Sharing his 1960s nostalgia for Ayub Khan’s Pakistan, Khan cited Nobel Prize-winning economist Gunnar Myrdal’s book The Asian Miracle, in which Imran claimed that “Myrdal likened Pakistan’s development to California’s”. Must have been a touching ode, but Myrdal never wrote that book or made that claim.
History and literature are not the only subjects the PM has mastered, even geography, science, physics, weather and research of the unknown make Khan an ideal contender for the Nobel prizes.
His revelation that China is about to make trains that will run faster than “speed ki light” or ‘light of speed’ stumped even scientists. This is a concept no one has cracked yet. He also came up with the unique idea to convert rohaniyat or spirituality into a ‘super science’. Now how do you do that? We don’t know. Is it like a ‘super over’ in one-day cricket?
But we in Pakistan are truly blessed. PM Khan told us that there are 12 seasons in Pakistan — no other country can say that.
Truth can wait
Imran Khan, like a true nationalist leader, carries the message forward with conviction, doesn’t matter if it is a lie or far from reality. It is the illusion of truth that matters.
Since 2011, when he gained his ground as a third viable option in Pakistan politics, Khan’s public speeches, on and off the container trucks, have revolved around corruption and figures that don’t exist. The oft-quoted figures of Rs300 billion that was ‘looted’ by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, $200 billion that was stashed in Swiss banks and the $10 billion being laundered out of Pakistan are all exactly that — illusions. Just like much of Imran Khan’s promises in Naya Pakistan.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.