Understanding Imran Khan’s ‘austerity’ politics through Allama Iqbal’s poetry

Pakistan’s new premier Imran Khan has announced his arrival by sending out a loud message to his ‘fixed’ opponents with the ‘austerity’ stroke. But as the captain looks determined on the crease like never before, many of his well-meaning fans expect him to play a game-changer as per the Poet of the East’s rulebook.

When Pakistan’s founder Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah nominated Allama Iqbal as the Paigambhar-e-Aaeen [prophet of the constitution of Pakistan], it was the acknowledgement of the Poet of the East’s glorious vision. Among other things, Jinnah’s faith was based on austerity measures proposed and advocated by the poet.

It was this uncomplicated nation-building roadmap, which helped the new nation born out of the bloody chaos of 1947 to sustain, and thrive.

The Qaid’s belief in Allama’s beauty of thought was a tacit approval of his philosophy of the heart in motion. It also relates to us on a higher level of how a simple Muslim can reach the stage of a Moomin or a Mohsin.

In a country where a premier was sacked for not being Amin and Sadiq, Allama’s vision does dictate the pulse of life.

But before his advent as the new premier, the charismatic captain who lifted 1992 World Cup for Pakistan had slogged all his way for the last 22 years. Even at his supreme form, he had to cool his heels in a dugout, mulling over the newer strategies to play his political innings.

His crusade on corruption apart, his speeches often gave away his mindset. He sought the statecraft based on Allama’s Khudi and Shaheen concepts. Although the man had to face brickbats for his ideal-termed-loose approach, his political conduct on Allama’s beauty of thought swelled his fan-base.

That thought today exists in Khan’s Pakistan that sees Kashmir as the birthplace of a beautiful mind like Iqbal. The very thought also acknowledges the ground realities in the conflict-battered valley.

In fact, Allama’s Pakistan is being perceived today as the torch-bearer of a morality — the same morality which was once shown by somebody like Hazrat Umar Al Khattab [RA].

He ruled a colossal empire from Morocco to Xin-Jiang in China, and yet lived in a small mud hut and owned just one set of cloth which had patches stitched all over it. Is there a better example of a powerful man who ruled an empire spanning on such a vast territory and yet lived by the moral code as taught to him by none other than the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) ?

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The answer might be negative, but it’s believed that Imran Khan’s Pakistan in its pursuit to seek and implement the austerity measures might, in a long run, attain the Hazrat Umar’s shades of governance.

But it’s not going to be a piece of cake for the Pathan Prime Minister.

Although a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor, Khan’s immediate challenge is to face Pakistan grappling with a multi-front offensive. In order to tackle that, he has to realize that Pakistan (given the sacrifices in its foundation) does hold a moral promise and an authority to uphold the “Riyasat-e-medina” based on the Sunnah.

For that, Khan needs to base his resolve on the fountainhead of Pakistan, Allama Iqbal’s message.

Started as a young idealist with the song ‘Saare Jahaan Say Accha…’, Allama had to become a realist in the later part of his life.

After sifting through the various schisms of India, he realized that an idealist has to be a patient realist too—and therefore, must start from somewhere.

This is where Khan has to be mindful. He has, so far, lived a life as per his own terms. While being idealist in the times of the great injustices is must, one has to have a realistic mindset to strike chords around as well.

The Taqwa of building a moral nation according to the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) creation of Riyasat-e-Medina won’t be easy. It’ll never be smooth, but it’s worth cannot be underestimated for any petty material immoral interest.

Khan has inherited Pakistan which continues its journey through the murky maze of materialism that humanity continues to find more attractive than the moral dominion of God. And therefore a moral individual will always appreciate Iqbal’s thought called Pakistan.

Khan’s time and test has just begun.


Ejaz Gosani is a Kashmiri doctor practicing in America.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir.


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