Pakistanís man of destiny
Reviewed by Harbans Singh

Pakistan: A Personal History
By Imran Khan. Bantom Press. Pages 390. Rs 599

Pakistan: A Personal History is essentially the political manifesto of Imran Khanís Tehereek-i-Insaf party though it also contains a brief history of Pakistan as well as his personal life. He is no stranger to India having participated in many bruising battles on the cricket field. Indian fans have suffered his cockiness and have discovered that admiration for India and anything Indian comes but grudgingly from him. This book needs to be read by all those who keep an eye on Pakistan, not the least because there is a strong possibility of his forming the next government in Islamabad. He has been working very hard for this over a period of time and his late mystic guide Mian Bashir had thus predicted before his death!

The best and least debatable part of the book is the one that deals with Imran Khanís personal life and cricketing career. Both give a glimpse of the self belief that permeates his being and his ability to overcome all odds. This section also gives an insight into his spiritual growth though the rationalist might be a shade disappointed. But considering the fact that he was deeply attached to his mother, who was devoted to a Sufi version of a female guru, it should not surprise anyone that finally Imran too began to lean on the mystic powers of mortal beings.

The positive aspect of his personality too emerges in this section and one cannot fail but notice that he does not use harsh words even against those who did their utmost to damage his cricket and reputation. Of greater significance, though, are the other two aspects of the book. It soon becomes obvious that the book has been written for the western readers and the Indian readers are likely to be left wondering about the history of the subcontinent. Understandably, Jinnah is depicted as the great hero as is the great poet Mohammad Iqbal. We are aware of the fact that Iqbal became the spiritual father of Pakistan yet most of us are at a loss to comprehend the transformation of a person who wrote "Sare Jahaan Se Achcha `85." into believing that Muslims of the subcontinent needed a separate homeland. The author too does not waste his time on the Indian riddle and moves on to find scapegoats for not only the break up of his homeland in 1971 but all that went wrong with Pakistan.

Imran Khan dwells at considerable length over the ideological contribution of Iqbal and the subsequent deviation from his philosophy. Whatever reasons Iqbal might have had for abandoning the idea of a composite India he was aware of the reasons for the decline of Islam and had, among other reasons, attributed it to the shutting of doors to ijtihad, the scholarly debate, by the clerics. However, the author himself is guilty of having a very cloistered view of history. If at all he is aware of the cultural and material riches of pre-Islamic India, it is only in the passing and that too when he needs to bring any heroic trait of the people now living in Pakistan.

Indian readers will also be disappointed with his views about Kashmir. He believes that this issue along with Palestine, Iraq etc. is the cause of anger in the Muslim world. In his zeal to establish his credentials, he badly slips when he mentions on page 297 that the tribal Pashtuns sent their lashkars to fight in Kashmir in 1948. Inadvertently, he has confessed to the Pakistani aggression in the valley for the Indian Army had landed there after the tribal mayhem had taken place in Baramula!

Sadly, if Indian readers hope to find some clue to his friendly policy towards India, they are in for disappointment. The book nevertheless gives an insight into the mind of the person who might soon lead Pakistan in the international arena.