GORDON DUFF: PAKISTAN’S IMRAN KHAN; LOOKING FOR “AMERICA” IN THE STRANGEST PLACES

 

Imran Khan

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Traveling around Pakistan is a challenge for an American nowadays.  It’s not the highways.  It isn’t even that our second vehicle was “armed to the teeth” as we weaved through traffic and up and down superhighways and dusty back roads.  The difficulty is the landscape itself, a land, at times, very American in appearance and yet strange and wondrous too.  It was the similarities that scared us.

We were there as Americans for a series of lectures and meetings to discuss economics and regional politics at universities and “think tanks.”   Pakistan, a country of poverty and wealth, a nation threatened like no other was much like looking in a mirror, perhaps a mirror into America’s future.

A couple of nights ago, author and economist Jeff Gates and I along with Editor Raja Mujtaba of Opinion Maker, the controversial open forum where academics, military leaders and political dissidents from that region fight it out daily on the internet, met with Pakistani political leader,  Imran Khan.

Meeting Khan was important to us because he is the only political figure in Pakistan that is widely respected in Afghanistan, a nation that could, potentially, bog American down for years in a bizarre and indefinable combination of “counter-terrorism” and traditional tribal warfare.  Only Khan is respected on both sides of the border, Khan and General Aslam Beg, former Army Chief of Staff in Pakistan.

LEAD VEHICLE

That there is suspicion between Pakistan and Afghanistan is an understatement.  Millions of Afghanis and Pakistanis are, not only ethnically identical, but members of the same tribes, even families.  Today, up to 4 million refugees from Afghanistan live in Pakistan’s tribal areas.  These refugees combined with elements of a Pakistani Taliban have created a drain on Pakistan’s resources, a breeding ground for religious extremism and provided safe havens for Taliban sects that are clearly extremist, terrorist and criminal in nature.

With as many as 50 million people considering themselves “Taliban,” most non-extremist, differentiating between good and bad “Taliban” has been difficult and, in the case of American efforts, something approached with questionable intent.

Not that many years ago, the United States and Pakistan trained and armed the Mujahedeen, both Afghan and foreign fighters to overthrow Soviet dominance in Afghanistan.  A generation later, our failure to demilitarize and rehabilitate these elements and the region has led to untold instability, world terrorism and a war against Pakistan supported by terrorist elements aided by massive funding and sophisticated weaponry and training whose origin can be traced with little difficulty to India and Israel.

Imran KhanMan or legend.

If a man describes “controversy” it is Imran Khan.  Few people define the hopes of Islamic moderates as does Khan.  This “Khan’s” empire, a “superstar” athlete of the cricket world, a sport unknown to most Americans, consists of that huge portion of the world our maps used to color pink, the regions we used to call the British Empire, a region covering 40% of the globe.  When the British conquered the world they took their most beloved sport with them, cricket.

What if an American baseball pitcher won 30 games a year with an ERA of 2.0 and batted .400?  Then surround him with controversy, a Muslim with a Jewish ex-wife, looks and charm and a reputed “way with the ladies” that keeps the tabloids stalking him and, oh, I forgot to mention this, make him the head of a political party.  You will now begin to understand the enigma of Imran Khan

It gets worse.

He is Pashtu, a Pashtun, one of the same ethnic group Americans know as the Taliban, a group well out of the mainstream in Pakistani politics.  In a country ruled by the “Europeanized” Punjabi and Sindh, a Pashtu political leader makes Barak Hussein Obama seem “mainstream.”

It gets worse still.

Khan is not only a controversial celebrity, but an outspoken reformer fighting government corruption.  Khan is a friend of Americans but strong enemy of American influence in Pakistan and very critical for the west for its mistrust of Islam.  He believes the west doesn’t know the difference between a Taliban extremist and a moderate Sufi cleric but can pick out a Methodist from a Lutheran in seconds.

Imagine an American sports hero who is an Oxford trained economist, sponsored the nation’s largest cancer center and is now building a university for those who would never otherwise see a higher education.

We had to meet this guy.

His political offices were moderate.  We had visited political parties in Pakistan that looked more like Ivy League campuses.  Khan’s party was used furniture, peeling paint and the sound of work, footsteps up and down stairs and a lot of noise.  It was an election night in Rawalpindi.  A seat in the national assembly was up for grabs and charges of election fraud had charged the air.

I almost felt I was back in America.  For the office of a man whose very mention that I planned to meet him had a flight attendant asking for my autograph, it was unexpected.  Khan wasn’t a dilettante or elitist, he is a fighter, capable of holding his own in any political arena.  The language was easy to understand.  He believed what he said and knew what he was talking about.

We weren’t used to that.

If you ignored the TV crews outside, you noticed a few things.  There were no lights, power had been cut, a result of terrorism’s costs to Pakistan.  Khan had a small rechargeable lantern on his desk; he turned it so we could find out way and had us sit down.  It was clear that we hadn’t entered the corridors of power.  This was something else entirely.

We had walked in on a crusade for political accountability and reform.  If this were America, it would have been that “third party” we all dream of but never get.

Not what we expected.

When Khan called President Musharraf “George Bush’s poodle” and threatened protests when Bush visited Pakistan in 2006, he was placed under house arrest.  When Musharraf declared a “national emergency” in 2007, Khan called for his immediate arrest and execution for treason.  Khan was jailed for this, went on a hunger strike and was released.

You can’t help but love a guy like that!

Khan wasn’t a tabloid playboy, though he looked the part, that and more, nor was he much like anything we have seen in America in many years.  Khan believed what he said and could more than hold his own on any subject from economics to foreign policy, depth, clarity and understanding, not only of economic theory but someone with solutions, not just “sound bites” but solid programs, economic reform, political justice.

All of this was steeped in a passion, a drive you could feel across the room.  It was electric.  Mostly, however, I could feel his frustration.  Reforming politics is impossible, certainly in America, at the best of times.  Pakistan is beset by enemies on all sides, terror attacks are daily across the country and the threats are far worse than debt and unemployment.  People are fighting for their lives.

Interview turned around.

Khan asked us about everything.  I was grilled about American veterans, how they were treated, how their families suffered during multiple deployments how much Americans sacrificed in a war he believes is being handled without adequate understanding of the factors involved and the solutions available.

Khan wanted to know everything about America, as we saw it, opinions on the war, 9/11 and why Americans believed what the press told them about Pakistan and moderate Islam.  His point, of course, is that extremism in Pakistan’s tribal areas was the result, as it  had been in Afghanistan, of lack of education.

The aftermath of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had forgotten to rebuild the battleground of that war, Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan where the millions of refugees had settled, areas now subject to poverty and extremism as the “war on terror” had virtually collapsed Pakistan’s economy and destroyed much of its infrastructure, more than any western nation had imagined or bothered to look into.

Few European or American schools have soldiers, armoured personnel carriers and “TSA level” security at their children’s schools.

What we saw.

Pakistan’s current president, Zardari, may actually be less popular than “W” after either Katrina or the infamous “Bush financial crash” when real estimates of approval entered the single digit range.  Being an “unsuccessful politician” in Pakistan and hated by “party line” newspapers is a clear sign of personal integrity.

Zardari actually passed a law making it a crime to tell jokes about him.   This must be hard on a lot of people.  Pakistan is a country of folks who know humor.  Sometimes it is all that keeps them alive.

Meeting an honest politician, one willing to tell Bush, Israel or anyone else exactly how he feels, to the point of doing jail time for it is a bit of a shock.  You could ask Khan something and he would simply tell you what he thinks, tell you the truth.  Combining this with being educated, devoutly religious and with an established history for charity work and paying the price for standing up for what is right, even at great personal cost, Imran Khan is an enigma.

How would Americans view Khan?

Jeff and I looked at each other the second we left the door.  Jeff remembering his years as Chief Counsel for Senate Finance hit on it immediately:  “We could get this guy elected President of the United States in a flat minute.”

Thinking back at the last 40 years, there was nobody  who could stand up to this guy, media, debate, programs, especially if women were voting.

What would Americans really do?

Khan would be crucified by the press.  He would demand an end to corruption, end foreign influence in Washington, Israel, China, India, Saudi Arabia, everyone.  The wars would end, we would begin addressing the root causes of terrorism, defense spending would plummet, and America would start working again.

He would be dead in a week.

Why think about a guy from Pakistan?

The information revolution has made the world small.  Imran Khan is “out there,” YouTube, the internet, not so much in America but people know him.  He isn’t perfect like some Americans, you know the ones we are talking about, all “goodness and light” on the outside and underneath it all, corruption, addiction, a life of failure reinvented by money, power and foreign lobbyists.

America is at war and Pakistan is the front lines.  When you talk terrorism, Pakistan is the victim, not the US.  They get it from every side, American papers, Islamic extremists along with India/Israel and games some of us can only imagine or talk of in whispers as “conspiracy theory.”  When a school is blown up in Pakistan, the list of potential suspects often has some names that would surprise many Americans.

With a world in the hands of folks like Bush or Obama, Gordon Brown or Tony Blair and the EU folks, Merkel and Sarrdoozie of France, anything with signs of human life and intelligence is always welcome.  Italy’s prime minister spends more money on lesbian prostitutes than an American senator can steal in a lifetime.  Imran Khan is a saint in comparison.



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77 Responses to "GORDON DUFF: PAKISTAN’S IMRAN KHAN; LOOKING FOR “AMERICA” IN THE STRANGEST PLACES"

  1. Mohammad Mansoor  March 12, 2010 at 6:58 am

    So your suggestion for Khan is to join the idiots Sharif and Zardari, to become a ‘big’ political player. Do you know anything about Imran Khan, or have understood anything written in the article?

  2. Abdullah  March 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I was growing up in the ’80/90’s during his playing career. It is difficult to compare him to a US athlete, as he was popular on the field, off the field, was admired by Men, was a favorite with the ladies as well, and every kid wanted to grow up to be him. You could say Micheal Jordan, but even he pales in comparison to IK’s popularity within Pakistan at that time.

  3. Sami Ullah  March 9, 2010 at 6:41 am

    WAT an Article!!… ABSOLUTE Ripper!! Imran Khan is AWESOME, anyway u put it.
    I only ask Allah for one thing. Make Imran Khan the leader of pakistan. Can’t wait.
    But the problem is, he’s is Not Corrupt like those majority of other politicians in pakistan, so it will be hard for him.
    In Pakistan currently Corruption rules, its a shame a person like Mr 10% aka Zardari is the President 🙁
    But we have HOPE…..even the strongest of Pharoah’s could last forever. Time will come.

    Pakistan Zindabad.

  4. Rehan A. Khan  March 6, 2010 at 8:45 am

    My apologies for starting this punjabi/pashtun debate, Lets accept the fact that Imran is Pakistani first before anything else. Lets hope for a better future of
    our beloved Pakistan.
    But I failed to understand your example of Punjabi custom officer demanding $400
    cutome duty and Pashtun guy, letting you pass without paying a dime? Are you
    suggesting that by not following the law of the land, the Pashtun guy was a better
    person than the Punjabi guy, who wanted to obey the rules? besides as for as I know there is no custom duty on personnel computer(if you are bringing just one).
    Unless the law has changed within passed couple of years, and if did, $400 duty on a computer? I doubt it. Being a dual nationality holder(Pak/US)I brought a number of items including a computer from US, and declared everything at Islamabad airport,never had any problem,although my last name is Khan.
    regards

  5. anon  March 6, 2010 at 1:21 am

    moreover, you’ ll give us a legend but not a legacy 🙁

  6. anon  March 6, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Few reasons why Imran Khan will never become a prime minister:

    1) He is sane.
    2) He is accomplished.
    3) He has not committed fraud and/or murder.
    4) He has potential, a vision and above all, an education.
    5) His being the leader will cut the need of a lot of bureaucratic positions within the government as he is presentable, has a mannerism of speech, and a drive to not plunder the country but to establish it as a nation where the word sovereignty can finally find some meaning.

    well there are other reasons too but above are few basic facts which are not common to the history of the leadership of our (potentially) great nation (excluding Jinnah). I feel remorse for you Imran, sympathy to some extent, but also regret about the way you played your cards: you will be remembered as a failed and quickly quickly forgotten revolutionary…for shame 🙁

  7. Umair  March 5, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Agreed,

    But the man is of no use to his people -for whom i assume is he struggling for the past 12 years -like this. He can only deliver-if at all -by taking control of the state apparatus which right now seems a far cry from. Only, if he would have joined PPP or God forbid PML-N (the two main political parties of Pakistan) and got a seat in assembly and a ministry, he could have stood a chance to prove his credentials and that i believe would have done bundles for his popularity among the masses.

    Another thing, majority of his party leadership is either drawn from Jamat-e-Islami(the most fundamentalist, hardliner party in Pakistan) or Muslim League (conservative rightists with little or no sympathy for labour and peasants’ concerns i.e. the concerns of the majority of Pakistanis), and most importantly, he only has gained pockets of support in urban areas of Punjab and in Pukhtunhwa (his party has zero presence in Sindh and Balochistan)….these are warning signals for someone trying to create space for himself in a democracy…

    Ok I guess I should wrap up lest i go on tangents, Imran could have done wonders for his people but the way he’s going about things he would neither do any good to the people nor to himself, as he’ll remain a small political player and never be given that much of weight and importance as those idiot Nawaz Sharif and Zardari

  8. Naeem  March 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Thats very good. I think Ali Seraj is also a true hope for Afghanistan. A great Pakistan will result from A truly independent, and free Afghanistan.

  9. Naeem  March 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Very Good point H Syed. Regardless of who he is and we can put that matter to rest but I didn’t think it was necessary to trampel on Gordon’s work and his research he put into this. I think the entire Pakistan claims Imran as their own and thats a testiment to his greatness in the country. As far as Pakpassion goes that was something he said to put out all the flames from MQM for calling him racist or whatever and prove that he is multicultural. At least in Pakistan we can make sure that racism is the least because foreign forces see them as one people and that more often than not, ONE REALLY BAD GROUP OF PEOPLE.

  10. Gordon Duff  March 5, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Just spent the last hour talking with Ali Seraj (Prince Ali) in Kabul. Don’t think I don’t get instructed constantly.

    g

  11. Naeem  March 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Gordon,

    I got one more point. I am glad you keep suggesting honor and dignity which defines a man’s characteristics. Imran has honor and dignity and he states that in his book very specifically that when he visited the North West Frontier Areas and met with people he found a sense of belonging. He found that defeat was not an option and honor and dignity was more valuable than money and power. His interview about a year ago with Charlie Rose, he said the same thing about honor and dignity.
    Regardless of who really Imran is, he is good for Pakistan. He is free of corruption and free of lies. The only probblem he may have is that he may have slept with many women, which is not a problem. Many of my friends from Pakistan who may have some sort of Pashtun ancestory in them keep suggesting it to girls hoping that it may add to their sexual charisma. So what is the harm that Imran has used his sexual charisma?

  12. Sulaiman Malik  March 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I will bring it up with him and his advisers but the bigger question is would the US ever risk bringing him in the negotiations instead of someone like Nawaz Sharif? I am assuming no one would take him seriously in the US because he will destroy corporate/imperial interests of America?

    We are trying to see if he can manage to be in Washington DC on March 20th for the march against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and drone attacks on Pakistan. The march is organized by the Coaliton of Peace and Justice

  13. Naeem  March 5, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Gordon,

    I fail to understand what some of these people are trying to advocate as to who really Imran is. The guy said it himself that he is a pathan and not a punjabi in his book. As far as Niazi goes, same thing goes with African Americans in America. They have been present in America for hundreds of years but none of it washes their ethinicity. I am an American citizen and I consider myself an American. Many of my cousins are born and bred in America. They only speak two languegues and they are English and Pashto. I am a Pathan American just like many in my family. Imran’s PTI profile, Cricinfo profile, his book, his wikepedia page and many other sources says that he is of a Pashtun ancestory. He has never said he is a Punjabi. He acts according to the code of Pashtunwali (which I think Gordon should read a little about to get more information as to what I am talking about).

    Gordon has said that he is going through Swat in a few months and he himself is a greater testament than anyone else in this matter. After coming back, he can attest If he found more people in Punjab conducting like Imran or in the tiny district of Swat. He can also attest to the fact as who Imran more or less looks like, ie Punjabis or Pashtuns.

    As far as backward tribes is concerned as one of the guy suggested Pashtuns are, I would like to give you an example of when I was in Pakistan. On one occassion I landed in punjab and I had to pay 400 dollars to the punjabi guy just because I decided to bring a computer to my nephew. I did the same thing on a different occassion but landed in peshawar and I asked the Pashtun guy how much the taxes were and he looked at me and said you have worked hard for your money in America, why should I tax you in your own country.

    Imran has lived a life least comparable to those in Pakistan politics and 90% of them are not Pashtuns. Pakistani politicians shows bigotry, lies, distortion, corruption and Imran is none of that. At least the backward, non-educated Pathans has yet to contribute to the misery of Pakistan. At least the backward, non-educated Pathans have yet to turn away Internally displaced persons from a disaster area. At least the uneducated, backward pathans have yet to crawl back in our Mr. Brown complex and not been able to open our mouth in front of our Masters (The English). And finally, at least the Pathan land have yet been defeated which should be more than enough evidence that we are not backwards but progressive.

  14. Rehan A. Khan  March 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    “I think his politics is confused, He has nothing new to offer so the best way for him would have been to join a mainstream party and then channelize his visions n ideas,”
    Well said Umair, I rather see him as a good social worker or a Pakistan Cricket Board ofiicial than a political leaders.
    Regards

  15. Gordon Duff  March 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Umair,

    Can you be a man of passion and a good politician at the same time? You are right, of course. He isn’t just a good public speaker. I limit how much I can stick my nose into another country’s politics. If he were here, his programs would work. He understands people, economics and what is needed for human beings to live with honor and dignity.

    This is bad politics and people who want to win at politics aren’t going to be around someone who doesn’t follow the rules. Khan is a loner.

    g

  16. Umair  March 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Your effort and this man, Imran Khan, both are commendable but as the headline above the comment box says, I want to speak my mind about Imran as a politician. He’s maybe a good leader, a philanthropist, an ok public speaker but politician…naah
    Politics in Pakistan is a mysterious business, more than 170 million people who get their democratic right to vote only once in a while, thanks to our army men’s obsession with power, and then too their choices are affected by factors like ethnicity, castes, clans, religion etc ( in short everything that’s just ethereal and would have no bearing on their material conditions)….they never get a chance to think about THE REAL ISSUES.. Inflation, unemployment, land reforms…economic policies of parties….
    And here comes Imran Khan, striving to build his party for the last 12 years, and he ends up getting app 3400 votes in recent by-polls on NA-55(Rawalpindi) -1% of the total 300,000 votes…I think his politics is confused, He has nothing new to offer so the best way for him would have been to join a mainstream party and then channelize his visions n ideas, instead of trying to create a full-fledged party…which is next to impossible in a Pakistan’s current political setup….

  17. Gordon Duff  March 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I think we should agree, he is either Spanish or Italian and move on.

    g

  18. Gordon Duff  March 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Sulaiman,

    If he is willing, we have tribal groups in Afghanistan willing to get behind him, large tribal groups.

    g

  19. Gordon Duff  March 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

    H. Syed,

    Exactly.

    g

  20. Sulaiman Malik  March 5, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Gordon,

    Great work, brave article like a true American. You summed it up beautifully here, “Khan is what we hope Ron Paul was!” And I also agree with you that there are actual conspiracies that most people call conspiracy theories!

    Khan is a true revolutionary and thats why he will never succeed as a politician and I doubt he worries about that. He has been officially named as someone the Taliban are willing to negotiate with. The best you could make of the situation is to try to promote him as a sane voice that the US wants to listen to and talk to when it comes to plans of pulling out of Afghanistan. Once they start talking to this guy, its only a matter of time that sanity will start to prevail in the region.

  21. H syed  March 5, 2010 at 8:30 am

    to put the matter at rest…he has Pashtun roots but culturally is probably very much punjabi or both….much like Americans with Italian background…they would call them Italian but culturally, they are probably very American…ofcourse here we are talking abt two countries, but just drawing an analogy and would probably apply to 2nd or 3rd generation Italians.
    Naeem bhai, Imran probably would claim both connections, he is a smart man and that would give him more approval in both places.Although i doubt Punjabis care too much about that, most leaders they have chosen are Non punjabis, maybe except Zia, which for all intents and purposes was not CHOSEN, and Nawaz Sharif by your logic is of Kashmiri decsent!

  22. H syed  March 5, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Naeem, even though this ETHNIC discussion is pointless and rather counter productive,Niazis have been based in Mianwali punjab for many centuries!ithink i read about it on wikipedia.Bhuttos are sindhi, shahnawaz bhutto (benazirs grandfather ) was an official for the Royal of Hyderabad state i believe, but they are based in Larkana. Also Zardari has Baloch roots…so what if they lived in Lahore for a while, it was the major city in Pakistan before karachi became an important port and grew bigger in the last century?Musharraf lived in Lahore, even Imran khan grew up in Lahore…

  23. H syed  March 5, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Imran is the best politician for a country that absolutely needs him, but isnt aware of it.Sadly, he does not have roots in the traditional/backward feudal culture where people of the same tribe, or land belonging to a certain landlord have to vote for a corrupt politician. Even in the urban areas, he has alot of following, but he has no funding and its hard to compete with the seasoned corrupt politicians.
    Theres another issue with brining him into the U.S. media as a viable option.Anyone the U.S. media would appreciate, even the moderate voters in Pakistan would look at that person with suspicion and he will be labelled by many as a U.S. agent!If this is done behind the doors, and ppl can convince private donors( of Pakistani origin) to donate to his political movement, that would probably help him much more.

  24. Rehan A. Khan  March 5, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Well Naeem, in that case Zufiqar Ali Bhutto and Benezir Bhutto were Punjabis not
    Sindhis since they were Lahori Araains before their forefathers moved to sindh, no
    sorry… they were Arabs, since Araains claims that their ancestors came with the great Mohammed Bin Qasim from Syria.
    and don’t forget the Niazis of Mianwalli, Eisa Khail & Daud Khail, all in Punjab.
    Ayub Khan was from a village named ‘Rehana’, which is in NWFP.

  25. Gordon Duff  March 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Naeem,
    Thanks for clearing this up. Wonder why someone would hold such a strange misconception?
    g

  26. Naeem  March 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Gordon,

    I want to correct Rehan. Imran is of a pashtun ethnicity. He may have been born in punjab but his last name is Niazi which is a tribe of the pashtuns. Even he claimed it in his book the Warrior Race. He is a pashtun like myself regardless of the language that he speaks. Much in the same mould as Ayub Khan the former president of Pakistan who also didn’t speak Pashtu and was a Hindku speaker. In order to be pashtun, you have to be from one of the main tribes of the Pashtuns and Imran is a Niazi. I don’t know of any tribes Niazi in punjab…
    thanks

  27. Rehan A. Khan  March 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Gordon,
    If my ancestors migrated from NWFP, but for generations, my family is living in the heart of Punjab, I was born and raised there and Punjabi is my mother tongue, I wouldn’t call myself a Pashtun, following is a
    link, where Imran is talking in Punjabi.
    http://www.pakpassion.net/ppforum/showthread.php?t=83985

    regards

  28. Gordon Duff  March 4, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Rehan,

    Alot of people seem to be misinformed on this and you are a holder of unique knowledge. If you are correct, the numbers in Paksitan and Afghanistan who believe the other way, government, news organizations and others is extremely high.

    Ah, controversy.

    g

  29. Rehan Ali Khan  March 4, 2010 at 4:49 am

    A correction!
    Imran Khan is not a pashtun as you have mentioned in your write up. His father was
    from Mianwali(North-west Punjab) where the native languages are punjabi and saraiki,
    his mother was from East Punjab. Imran was born and raised in Lahore. Not every body
    with the last name ‘Khan’ is Pashtun. Like myself, Imran Khan is a full blooded Punjabi.

    regards
    R.A Khan

  30. Shea Brown  March 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Gordon,, You never cease to amaze me. I didn’t see any new articles from you for a week and thought that someone had poisoned you! Bravo my friend,, bravo. You continue to prove what a purposeful and brave lad you really are. You set an incredible example for any writer or investigator who is seeking the real story out there. You have touched a lot of people out there who pray, and hope, and work for peace fervently everyday.
    It should be incredibly embarrassing to the major networks and the highly paid journalists here and around the world,, that one old damaged Marine vet got himself to the other side of the world,, and got the story they would have loved to have written.
    Amplus testis. Amplus testis!

  31. Naeem  March 3, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Gordon (in reply to S.Bash)
    I echo what S. Bash is saying here. It is very important that the same sentiment of no voilance against women with which America is fighting shouldn’t be put to practice. It is just immoral. It is your duty as a free journalist to cover Aafia’s story. At least she will get what she deserves but i feel that when shit is covered up, they come up eventually because they smell.
    thanks,

  32. S.Bash  March 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Great read! Makes me glad Imran is a Pakistani and not an American. I agree that his party is weak and needs more time to organize better. But that is to be expected since its the only party created without the help of the “establishment” and being created from the grass root level. But Imran is very tenacious and never gives up which is what will get him through.

    Most people seem to think the masses dont realize what a gem they have in their midst. I assure you they do! They just need an independent election commission and free and fair elections.

    Gordon, I want to bring your attention to another very serious matter about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. She might have come up in your conversation with IK since he is very actively involved in that case. This case greatly effects Pakistan-American relations and if left unresolved, will greatly contribute to anti-American sentiments in the people of Pakistan and give rise to more hatred in Pakistan

    Dr. Aafia is a Pakistani woman, an MIT graduate who was abducted in Karachi in 2003 WITH HER 3 CHILDREN, THE YOUNGEST BEING 6 MONTHS and kept in Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan for 5 years! She was tortured there so much so that the other prisoners were haunted by her and actually went on a hunger strike for her.
    Imran Khan held a press conference in 2008 with a British journalist Yvonne Ridley about Aafia. Two weeks after that, Aafia suddenly rose from the ashes; the US authorities fabricated a farse story about her, she was taken to NYC, a joke of a trial was held and she was recently convicted by the jury. She is awaiting her sentence now.

    I bring this issue to your attention as the US media has refused to cover this story (maybe not Fox but we all know what version they would go with). Maybe with your help and the blogging community, the American people will know her story. This much I can assure you…if the American people know the real story about what happened to this woman and her 3 children (2 of whom are still missing), it would create an uproar and would have the people out on the streets.

    IK and Yvonne held another press conference only last week highlighting this issue again. Imran said in an interview that he had asked an acquaintance to write an article for a US magazine but the magazine had refused to print it. This proves that the US media is not willing.

    I implore you to please take up this case. As I understand, a lot of rumours are going about Aafia having links with Al-Qaeda and what not. Even so, even if she did have links, she is innocent until proven guilty (isnt it convenient that she wasnt tried for her Al-Qaeda links in NYC?). And what about her 3 children? (2 of whom are, as I understand, US citizens) Her eldest son was returned to Aafia’s family last year. He is deeply tormented and mentally unstable (no kidding). According to Aafia’s sister, her daughter is in NY and is being used by the authorities to torture Aafia. They got her to sign away all her rights and what not. The youngest child, only 6 months when abducted in 2003 is probably dead.

    I am a mother of a beautiful baby girl and it pains me to imagine what this poor woman must have gone through. I know that I cant do much so I’m relying on you to please take this up. I know American people are good people. They need to know. Aafia deserves justice.

    Thank you

  33. Adam  March 2, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Gordon,

    Nice to know that they have a good leader. Do you know how popular he was as a sportman? What US athelete would you compare him with in term of popularity?

    Thanks,
    Adam

  34. Gordon Duff  March 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Naeem,

    I will be heading thru Swat on vacation, I hear it is lovely this time of the year. (ok, maybe in 6 weeks)
    g

  35. Naeem  March 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Hi Gordon,
    Amazing work in a country where most others are reluctant to visit. What you have said about Imran is correct. I remember shaking hands with him when 1997 when he visisted my village. That was a great experience because I have always dreamed of becoming a cricketer but not to be because I moved to America as a teenager. I am originally from a very small village in Swat Valley and moved to America just before 9/11. I don’t claim to know much but I believe that Imran although not experienced can shape Pakistan very well through his immense integrity and charisma. I am a strict believer of charisma. Just like Obama has won the election with the help of extraordinary oratory skills coupled with desire to lead and shape the country, Imran will do the same one day. I am just glad that people like you are covering him. The mainstream American needs to know more about him.

    thanks,

    Naeem

  36. Farrukh Hayat Khan  March 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Dear Sir:

    Worth going through this article…I’m very delighted to actually read this spoonful of honesty and truthfulness by someone belonging to United States of America, your work is much appreciated back in Pakistan and we would love to read your articles in future as well. We hope that the trend of blame game and bashing one another in Pakistan will end soon and Imran Khan will eventually rise as a President of Pakistan, as he really is cradle for sane leadership.

    Finally, your article could very well prove to be an eye-opener to the people of Pakistan and to the international world and for that it richly deserves appreciation and applaud.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Farrukh Hayat Khan
    khi,Pakistan

  37. Gordon Duff  March 2, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Your Highness,

    I appreciate your support.

    gordon

  38. Ali Rahmatullah  March 2, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Mr. Duff,

    Great article, very well written and greatly needed as well. This man’s popularity with the youth can be seen with the response to your article all over facebook. Pakistan is a country with plenty of motivated youth we need Imran Khan to lead us and with more articles portraying his views and lifestyle, Pakistanis will begin to see the difference because the future is made up of the youth. The older generation will leave someday but the youth will always stay.

    Finally an article which shows Pakistan or at least a Pakistani in a positive light!

    Thanks,
    Ali

  39. Gordon Duff  March 2, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Bash

    Khan’s political party is weak. I also don’t feel free to talk about the election commission there…but you know what I mean. I sat thru an election…….

    Khan has powerful enemies.

    g

  40. BASH  March 2, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Hi Gordon,
    Good to read that u talked real hard facts and instead of malingning another pakistani, u portrayed the right picture of an upright fighter of Pakistan.
    But can u figure out that y a common man is still not voting for him. Like the elections in NA-55 of Rawalpindi, his candidate fetched fewer votes than he had got last time fighting as a independant candidate. Being a foreigner, if u can find out that he is THE MAN, then why the real sufferers from pakistan can make out their mind about supporting the real guy???

  41. Gordon Duff  March 2, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Fouzia

    Time for Americans go learn who their real friends are.
    g

  42. Gordon Duff  March 2, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Much more work to do. Getting work done and keeping alive is a challenge. Most of what was done was organized by Raja at opinion-maker.
    He worked for months. We accomplished more than anyone can imagine. We had 100% access everywhere.

    g

  43. Gordon Duff  March 2, 2010 at 5:37 am

    thanks,
    g

  44. Farhan N.  March 2, 2010 at 4:39 am

    Beautifully written. I appreciate your hard work Mr.Duff
    Now interested and will be reading more stuff from you 🙂

    Peace.
    Farhan

  45. Soap Box  March 2, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Welcome back Sir Duff.

    Thank you for building bridges & working for humanity.

  46. Bente Petersen  March 2, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Thank you Gordon Duff
    ml Bente

  47. Fouzia rashid  March 2, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Hi Gordon,

    Thanks for the wonderful articel. You made my day Gordon Duff ! Long live Imran Khan and long live Pakistan and may God bless you for writing this articel.

  48. Tom Dillman  March 2, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Good comment Khalil! The peace and prosperity process will take a while, but this is a good start.

    Tom Houston Vet

  49. Tom Dillman  March 2, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Good job Duff. I look forward to your Pixs. Onward and upward to a secure and sovereign Pakistan. The key to their future, as Khan acknowledged, is “education, education, education”. That is not an overnight job, but one that must be undertaken with patience and perseverance. Say hi to Jeff for me.

    Tom Dillman, Houston Vet

  50. Gazoo Martian  March 2, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Thank you for a wonderful opportunity to read on our hero Imran Khan. May Allah give you health and power in your pen to write more like this article.
    I saw your, Jeff and Gordon, on Pak tv. You were great and at least to me, you didnt show any signs that you were speaking on behalf of the State Dept.

    If possible, please send me your new articles to my above emails.
    Thank you again and have a great health and proseperity.

    Gazoo Martian
    Canada

    p.s. I am currently between contracts and have been working in the US since 1994. So I do know american folks a lot now that I did 35 years ago before I came to Canada.

  51. AKBER BADSHAH  March 2, 2010 at 1:03 am

    HI Gordon Duff ,
    wonderfully written.imran khan is the only hope for pakistan. I hope the masses will stop voting for the corrupt politicians and will rise along with Imran Khan.pakistan zindaabad.Amerca zindaabad

  52. Naveed  March 2, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Great work Gordon. Thanks. Loved it and agree 110%. He is an idealist so in my opinion it will take longer for people to realize, hopefully it won’t be too late by then. But if we know anything thing about him is that he is a fighter and will not give in……. beautifully written

  53. Zain  March 1, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    you brought tears in my eyes, wonderfully written.

    He is THE MAN! The day he gives up, will be the day I give up and leave pakistan!

  54. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Saff,

    Khan is not alone. Pakistan is not alone either.
    g

  55. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Moazzam,

    Khan gets out more than any other politican in Pakistan…and into more trouble too. A gang of us, mostly Pakistanis as American friends are not politically “kosher” in Pakistan are getting him some organizing help.

    He can make a real difference.

    g

  56. Farrukh  March 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Great work uncovering the truth !
    As a Pakistani I hope the masses will stop voting for
    the corrupt politicians and will rise along with Imran Khan to put an
    end to the corruption and injustice and to promote peace !

    Farrukh
    Los Angeles, CA

  57. QB  March 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Gordon,

    Great article. I hope Pakistanis don’t ignore Khan as Americans ignored Ron Paul. What do you think why ordinary people are still not voting for him?

    QB

  58. Saff  March 1, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I hope I.Khan realizes he’s not the lone warrior against the Pakistani corrupt, but then there are so many. Not the warriors, but the corrupt ones, it becomes disheartening, especially for ones like me, sitting at my keyboard, thousands of miles away from home, and directed to strengthen my ties to this place-a collection of immigrants-looking back……….

  59. sami  March 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hi

    Thanks for writing about the good side of Pakistan, without the cynicism and snide double-entendres that usually accompany articles by the so-called mainstream media

    Sami (from Pakistan)

  60. DUFFSTER:
    Like the “X-Files” – the truth is out there for those who risk government retribution, jail time, espionage charges and possible death when it comes to AfPak.
    Kudos for your bravery in getting into the thick of things and learning first hand
    from one man who CAN and hopefully WILL make a difference in that region.

  61. Moazzam Niaz  March 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Mr Duff,
    I am very glad to read ur article about my home country. As a pakistani american, i was quite disappointed about the situation in pakistan. But having read ur article, i m again hopeful that situation there will change for better. Thanx for a wonderful piece of information. And i have one suggestion for Imran Khan. That he should travel and meet common pakistanis( 65% of Pakistani population lives in villages with no access of media ie Cable, Newspapers, Internet etc.) as once Mr Gandhi did in India and it took 4 years for Mr Gandhi.He should organise his party on local level. Mere repeating good questions on TV is not good enough!
    Again thanx for a good article!
    Regards
    Moazzam Niaz
    NYC, USA.

  62. K. Khan  March 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    All I can say “WOW” Mr. Duff my salute to you for bringing the other side of Pakistan which we hardly hear. God Bless America and Pakistan

  63. Rex Carlson  March 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I was beginning to worry myself.

  64. Kamran  March 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Gordon

    I agree with you.I always have good words for all the American i have ever met.However, the message we get from TV is totally different than what you find from ordinary Americans. Media influence the masses. I hope those phony journalist will portray the truth for the sake and benefit of all of us. Good luck and keep working for truth as a duty.

  65. jonathan mark  March 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Gordon, it is special to have real ambassadors for the USA. I am touched too by the unity of those with good hearts and intentions, bringing out what is best about each of our nations and world community.. as well as exposing the elitists for their control, fear, and manifestation of war for terror.

    Please note that Chris Story of World Reports re-posted the special article by Paul Craig Roberts about September 11, 2001.

    http://worldreports.org/news/272_paul_craig_roberts_sticks_it_to_the_911_criminals

  66. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Bob

    They will find out. I met with EVERYONE they meet. I expect a bit of snitching to go on.

    g

  67. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Kamran,

    It is time more people in Pakistan got to meet real Americans, not our military contractors, phony journalists and payoff artists.

    g

  68. btaylor  March 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Gordon
    Glad you got back safely..a very good article, we need more enlightenment.
    How has your work been received on this side of the Atlantic by
    our “leaders”? or is the mind set, just that..SET?

  69. Kamran  March 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Gordon!!! I got emotional the way you put this legend of the Pakistan’s history in your words. I hope people of Pakistan among them most of them are not educated and come from rural areas will know about this guy more than a cricketing hero. Our current political elite will send their own kids to study in foreign universities but this elite will never provide facilities or encourage people in their own constituencies to get education. The reason is clear if people would get education, they will know the difference between right and wrong and this may end the political career of our current corrupt and incapable leadership which is all standing on hallow lies. I always believe, Khan is not among the right people.People doesn’t know what they are ignoring who might change a developing country to well developed and well respected country in this world.

    I hope you will present a clear and clean message to USA government. As a Pakistani, i second every single word Khan says about US and Pakistan relationship. We love American people and respect their freedom of speech but they have to understand we can not live like a servant. Otherwise why we would have got independence from Great Britain. We want to be friend but we condemn their interference in Pakistani matters, especially war on terror. I hope people like you bring the real truth in front of every person in USA and we all can live in a peace.

  70. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Khalil,

    I had two of our staff with me in Pakistan the last few days. I was not allowed into Kabul for our meeting because of some minor issues with folks wanting to kill us. Will get back there quickly. Will arrange a meeting or some kind of discussion with Khan. What was meant to be a handshake and “hello” turned into mayhem….getting some real work done. Khan was brilliant.

    g

  71. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 9:21 am

    URM
    The heart of our meeting was lectures on monetary policy.

    g

  72. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Tahir,

    Clearly problems with the team. These are great people, we met with them just after a meet with one of the major parties. Khan is the “real deal”….
    I think we need to run him here. He is what Americans wish Ron Paul really was.

    g

  73. Gordon Duff  March 1, 2010 at 9:19 am

    George,

    More than you can ever guess…will put up some photos.

    g

  74. Lovenguth  March 1, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Welcome back G. Figured you were doing a recon somewhere.

  75. tahir  March 1, 2010 at 8:39 am

    It really was nice read.Imran is great in all aspects but he needs to concentrate on forming a good team so that he can do more for pakistan.

  76. ulysees r emortil  March 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Glad to see you back in the saddle Gord…. i didn’t know that you were off and began to wonder if..??? you know the old conspiracy theory thing… can’t help it.

    There are many fine peop;e out there and with the collapse of the monetary system
    there will be less and less mediocrity.. cheers for evolution…

  77. Khalil Nouri  March 1, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Lets start with a few qoutes from the Imran dude:

    “And when the pressure was on us, the team handled it very well. One has to learn to play well under pressure.”

    “At the moment we have a ruling class that has one law and the people the other.”

    “During my 21 years of playing cricket, I have never been approached by anyone or offered a bribe.”

    “If your house is burning, wouldn’t you try and put out the fire?”

    “I want to ask, does Pakistan have sovereignty at all? They are cooperating with America in the war against terrorism, but can they not distinguish between cooperation and slavery?”

    Based on the above qoutes from him, there is no doubt that he can make a profound leader in Pakistan. We would be very happy to see the same in Afghanistan.
    I believe we will see the fire of war and terror to be out.

    Thank you Gordon for your wonderful article ,, I am very impressed with your hard work to bring peace and stability in the region.

    Khalil Nouri

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