Monday, July 18, 2005

An Evening with Imran Khan

Famed cricket hero, heart throb, hospital founder and politician, Imran Khan spoke in Santa Clara on Saturday night. It was quite a performance, given that he had just flown in from London and was held up for two hours by the Homeland Security folks.

Imran was the key note speaker at a Forum on Human Development in Pakistan. It was held at the Santa Clara Marriott, in the heart of Silicon Valley. About 800 people listened intently to him as he spoke.

Afterwards, there was a Q&A session. No one wanted to ask the first question so I asked: "Will Gen. Musharraf be in power after 2007." He said, the general will do his best to stay in power. He said that is the problem with dictators. They have no exit strategy and keep on inventing excuses for staying on. He said the general had destroyed all civilian institutions in the country.
When asked how could Pakistan get back on the road to success, he said by having an independent judiciary and an independent election commission.

He commented on the major changes he had seen in India between the time he first visited that country and now. He attributed it to the rise of a two-party system and an independent election commission.

Imran said that in Pakistan the military has equated national security with the number of F-16s and nuclear weapons in its inventory. He talked at length about the poverty of people in Pakistani villages and how much more needed to be done to bring the country up to international standards.

He was asked if he would like to become the next president of Pakistan. He said he would like to become a prime minister with executive powers, as envisaged in the constitution, and not like Shaukat Aziz, who has no powers and is a puppet of the khakis.

He cited a study by ex World Bank economist Shahid Hussain that found corrution was widespread in Pakistan. The local police and judiciary were at the top of the list. He said it was no surprise that there was no justice for the poor and underpriveledged in Pakistan.

When asked who was his role model in Pakistani politics, without any hesitation he said it was Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

He also got three questions about cricket, none of which he answered. For those questions, he invoked his jet lag.

At the end, as he came off the stage, he was mobbed furiously.%

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