How Imran Khan is striking a chord with British Pakistanis

First published in World news by

A lack of interest led to Ayisha Ali failing to vote in recent local elections in her home city of Edinburgh.

However the 24 year old is adamant, she will not make the same mistake, in getting her voice heard for elections due to take in a country she has visited only once.

If Ali had her way - Imran Khan – who she recently met in Glasgow would win elections in Pakistan.

Speaking about the former cricketer turned politician she said: “I have never paid much attention to politics in Pakistan but he is the only one I can trust.

"The rest of them are only interested in filling their Swiss bank accounts.

"Only Imran can stand up to the US. The relationship with the Americans has brought the country to its knees. He also has made it clear that India’s Occupation has led to mass human rights abuses in Kashmir. In my opinion he will not abandon the Kashmiri people".

Khan’s trip to Scotland was his second in the space of three years.

It coincided with the visit to Britain by the current Pakistani PM Raza Gilani.

Khan has strongly maintained that he enjoys the support of many Western based Pakistanis, who are transfixed by a man whose famous ‘cornered tigers’ speech in the 1992 world cup final inspired Pakistan to success over England. However earlier this year he was reported to have said that many English speaking Pakistanis were “coconuts” who viewed Pakistan through a Western perspective.

However it appears such a comment has not reduced his popularity within the Pakistani diaspora.

A crowd of over a 1000 gathered at the Marriott Hotel, which was also the same venue in which former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf spoke a year ago but that is where the similarities ended. For the former army general it was strictly invite only amidst tight security.

In contrast for Khan it was standing room only. Tickets for an evening dinner were priced at £300 with a reported £150,000 raised for his party.

Not everyone though is impressed by Khan and the PTI, whose UK wing has suffered a damaging split.

According to his detractors Khan‘s statement that the war on terrorism can be stopped through dialogue in 90 days, shows his political naivety.

They also say he lacks substance and is playing on his past sporting success that will not necessarily translate into the political field.

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague said recently when visiting Pakistan that a “strong, stable, constitutional democracy is firmly in Pakistan’s interests and this will be welcomed by many of the country’s friends including the UK”.

A spokesman for the Pakistan High Commission said discussions had taken place to allow a possible mechanism that would allow UK Pakistanis to vote in the country’s elections.

Khan no doubt stands to gain the most if such a move did become reality. He has attracted the backing of second or third generations of overseas Pakistanis, who otherwise would have shown little interest in politics in the land of their parents.

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