By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza
In this article, I will attempt to examine Imran Khan’s mindset and try to explain the deeply rooted political psychology of his so-called anti-colonial rhetoric.
Khan’s policy represents the general crisis of Pakistan’s failing economy and chaotic politics. They mark the birth of the preconditions necessary to bring about a fundamental change in the social order of a given society. This situation can very easily escalate into a bloody conflict between the state and its people.
Generally, such a change is a precursor to a revolution or counter-revolution depending on the subjective consciousness of the general public.
In Pakistan, the wider public consciousness is dominated by right-wing religious/Islamic/Jihadist narratives. Indeed, over the past 40 years the mindset of the general public has been shaped in some way through a vast network of Islamic madrassas (seminaries), weekly sermons delivered every Friday from the pulpit of the mosque, TV dramas and talk shows. , newspaper columns and the medium of cinema.
There was no room for the Marxist tradition to take root as a political counter-discourse in Pakistan since the outlawing of the Communist Party in the 1950s. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, all relics of left-wing intellectual debate have diminished further.
In a recently released video of the former prime minister, he said the West never accepted him because he was Pakistani. He went on to explain that if you paint white stripes on a donkey, it will not turn into a zebra.
This assertion recalls that of the great Franco-Algerian psychiatrist Francis Fanon, who, stationed in Algeria with the French legion during the Algerian war of independence of the 1960s, had the opportunity to observe the dialectical relationship between the mode of struggle of the colonial subject and the oppressor.
He noted that initially the oppressed attempt to assimilate into the culture and society of the oppressor, but then as the oppressed realizes that they are not treated as an equal , the oppressed regresses and ends up facing the colonial master in a bloody fight. .
Khan’s confession, which he tried to assimilate but failed, must be considered in the light of Fanon’s observations in Algeria. According to Fanon, “to assimilate … the colonized subject must pawn some of his own intellectual assets”.
Early in his political career, Khan was all about Western values woven around a fair justice system that treated all citizens equally. He praised the social security system and gave examples of British MPs and Prime Ministers being fined even for trivial offences, unlike in Pakistan where power remains power and the petty thief is thrown behind the bars.
As a youth, Khan went to Aitchison College in Lahore which still followed the etiquettes of the English Raj. He also played cricket’s ‘Gentleman Game’. He went to Oxford for higher education. Khan even eventually married high-society socialite Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of a Jewish businessman living in the UK.
Nothing worked out for Khan and according to him he felt that although he “pledged some of his own intellectual possession” through accepted Western values and mingled with higher circles, he was still not accepted as an “equal”. Once this realization was established, Khan regressed.
He divorced his wife and married a seemingly devout Muslim woman and began replacing his rhetoric about the Western justice system with the Islamic justice system.
In Fanon’s terms, this stage is the second stage of a colonial subject which can only be revealed after having exhausted all attempts at assimilation into the “higher” culture of the oppressor. It is here that the underdog reverts to what Edward Said calls “the native begins to decolonise the past”. The native then creates an imaginative appeal to the wider audience based on an imaginary past that is both glorious and righteous.
This is why Khan now speaks of an imaginary exemplar of Riyassat-e-Medina (the State of Medina) created by the Prophet Muhammad around 1,500 years ago. Once the general public is awakened to the realization that to gain respect, justice and once the chief demagogue succeeds in energizing the general public, comes the final stage which Fanon calls the fight stage when when the oppressed turn to violence against the oppressor.
Khan developed a false narrative based on the theory that the US government conspired, through Pakistan’s opposition parties, to oust him from power. Therefore, Imran.