One Khan on the other

Imran’s bizarre take on A Q (Or, it’s all India’s fault, really!)

The second part of William Langewiesche’s detailed feature on A Q Khan has been published in the Jan/Feb issue of The Atlantic (subscription required). Here’s an excerpt.

Still, the idolization was excessive. I went to see another famous Pakistani who had received much of the same… Imran Khan, now fifty-three, is a tall and handsome man whose reputation for integrity—already strong—has been enhanced by his public denunciations of political corruption and by his founding of a large cancer hospital for the poor in Lahore. But that was not the point of my visit. Instead I wanted to talk to him about A. Q. Khan, and more generally about the nature of fame in Pakistan. I said, “It seems so extreme. I understand how important the atomic bomb is to Pakistan. It is important to any country that acquires it. But I’m still wondering what it is about Pakistan that such a cult could be made around one man.”

He said, “You have to understand the psyche of the Subcontinent, and not just Pakistan. If you go to India, there is more idol worship there—the worshipping of ‘stars’—than you will find anywhere else in the world. I was a Pakistani playing in India, but I’ve never had such adulation. I mean, in India everything is worshipped. They have idols for everything. Hinduism, you know.”


“You will find Indian film stars—all of them—behaving like A. Q. Khan. It’s not just the size of the crowds; it’s their attitude. Their film stars are like demigods, literally. Any celebrity. Their number-one batsman, for instance: the way he is treated in India is just incredible.”

“People want to touch him?”

“More! He would need security. The first time we toured India, even to cross the lobby of the hotel from the lift to the coffee shop we needed security guards. It was that sort of thing. The hotel was surrounded by thousands of people. We had never seen such a spectacle in our lives. And that culture is also in Pakistan—not to the same extent, because Islam challenges it, but don’t forget that most people here were converts from Hinduism, and they have retained a lot of these qualities.” [The Atlantic Online]

Idolisation of celebrities is neither peculiarly subcontinental nor exclusive to any one religion. For instance, these folks were hardly ever subcontinental Hindus.

18 thoughts on “One Khan on the other”

  1. Not surpsied at all. Imran Khan suffers more from the foot-in-the-mouth disease than dear old Natwar Singh. Natwar at least sticks only to the things he “knows” – Foreign Policy. This chap mouths off on everything under the sun. Distinguishes himself by being more “radical” than the MMA. or rather more “islamic”. reminds one of the proverbial convert being more “orthodox” than the natural practitioner.

  2. Nitin:

    Imran Khan must have been hit in the head by one too many cricket balls in his playing days. I suppose it must be the fault of Hindoooism that Pakistanis idolize their Army, allowing it to subvert their democratic (loosely speaking) institutions. Just like the land of the Hindooos: Oh, wait, India is a functioning democracy 🙂


  3. Nitin,

    Imran Khan epitomizes the inability of Pakistan to understand the other – in this instance, India. He misses the entire picture in his over simplification. I had assumed that he had matured and toned down since he had taken his divorce quite well. But he still retains that earlier neanderthal instinct as witnessed in the interview with Atlantic Magazine.

  4. Amusing ofcourse,

    And yet !

    Isn’t the same explaination (i.e Hinduism)given this side of border also ?

    For example Indian economy stagnated not because of Socialist policies but because Indians were Hindus (hence the term “Hindu Rate Of Growth”).
    I think Post Liberalization Hindus must have converted and become Libertarians en bloc


  5. Beats everything that I’ve read ever about being stupid. It truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Its too dumb to be even dumb, say the least.

    I certainly can’t envy the kind of leaders that Pakistan has had, but I guess they’ve been lucky enough to have kept him out of power…for now

  6. Isn’t it a common feature of Pakistani establishment including most of its media?

    I remember reading a news report few years ago when US congressman Jessie Helms, as the chairman of International Relations committee, introduced the then PM Benazir Bhutto as prime minister of India in US Congress. The poor guy was confused. While the congressman was properly briefed, Ms. Benazir had spent their hour meeting talking about India!

  7. The most Amusing post of Acorn. Thanks! I never knew Imran can be soo entertaining…He is my new idol.

    YET lets give him the benefit of doubt, he can’t be THAT dumb?

  8. Not meant to hijack Nitin’s post, but the spread the Photochor link far and wide folks. It is the most under-reported story of all times – especially the Uncle Jiang’s “We proliferate while you wait!” take out part.

    best regards,

  9. Behind the facade of a men educated abroad and his integrity blah blah blah, make no mistake, this failed and frustrated politician is a hypocritc and fundamentalist Pakistani Elite.

    He has often made condescending remarks about India and Indian culture.Seems, the chap is still smarting from the Humiliation that his clan had to suffer as a distant relative Niazi general had signed the Surrender document in 1971.

  10. Amusing and dangerous. “Hinduism, you know!”

    And the ‘Muhajir’ attitude still prevails. Now towards the converts. How do you become real Muslim then?

  11. Rejoice! the Indianisation of Pakistan is very near.

    “We will opt for further action after the meeting with all stakeholders, including the PBA. We will ask them to help us negotiate the ban with Islamabad,” Arain said. Cable operators said they would wait for at least two more weeks to see if the issue was settled. They say they have suffered losses due to the ban as a majority of their clientele is addicted to the Indian channels and have withdrawn their subscriptions. “In just a little over three weeks since the ban was imposed our revenues have dropped 50 percent because of disconnections,” Arain said.

    For more read this

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