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Pervez Saleem


Imran makes cover of Time, but supporters not happy

Courtesy: Dawn News

WASHINGTON: The renowned Time magazine on Tuesday published a cover story on former prime minister Imran Khan in its latest edition, putting his picture on the title page with the caption: ‘The Astonishing Saga of Imran Khan’.

The article caught the attention of PTI leaders as well, and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry immediately put it on his Twitter account, along with a picture of the title page.

Ch Fawad Hussain@fawadchaudhry
International Time Cover Story… “

It’s an article like most articles in Western magazines are; containing some praise and some criticism, analysing the current political situation in Pakistan and projecting the future, both for Pakistan and Mr Khan.

The magazine also did a Zoom interview with Mr Khan, but instead of a Q&A format, it used quotes from the interview throughout the article, some to highlight his achievements and some to back claims of his failures.

Some quotes were also used to back their projections, both positive and negative for Pakistan and Mr Khan.

But Mr Khan’s supporters did not like this approach and, as they often do with Pakistani publications, unl­eashed their wrath on the magazine and the author, Charles Campbell.

Time’s commentary “does not (go) beyond the West’s binary, myopic and fallacious view of the Muslim world,” wrote a PTI supporter, Maaz Ud Din, on his Twitter account. “This article is a perfect example of pathetic Orientalism.”

Maaz Ud Din/ معاذالدین@syed_maazuddin
@TIME‘s article on @ImranKhanPTI reeks of Eurocentrism. They’ve written a typical commentary that does not beyond the West’s binary, myopic & fallacious view of the Muslim world. The content of the article itself is flawed, objectionable & contemptuous.
Another PTI supporter, Bia Agha, claimed that the article displayed “the orientalist art of obfuscating facts and hiding disdain under a cloak of objectivity”.

PTI opponents were not far behind in highlighting Imran Khan’s flaws mentioned in the article. “The article blames (Khan) and only (Khan) for Pakistan’s economic crisis,” wrote one such opponent.

Maaz Ud Din’s point-by-point rebuttal of the Time article became immediately popular and had registered almost 50,000 views within hours. It was also retweeted by hundreds of PTI supporters, some of those tweets were also viewed by thousands.

The article, however, did project Imran Khan’s position that only elections can end the bitter political divide that the entire country is suffering from.

“Political stability in Pakistan comes through elections,” he said in the interview. “That is the starting point for economic recovery.”

The article, however, noted that Pakistan is “the world’s fifth most pop­ulous country,” which “has only $4.6 billion in foreign reserves —$20 per citizen”, indicating that this crisis cannot be solved by the elections alone.

“If they default, and they can’t get oil, companies go bust, and people don’t have jobs, you would say this is a country ripe for a Bolshevik revolution,” Cameron Munter, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, told Time.

The article was published hours before the Supreme Court rejected the Election Commission’s order to delay elections in Punjab and KP. So, it generated much debate in the social media and among scholars of Sou­th Asian affairs in the US.

The debate focused on three key points: Will the PDM government implement the Supreme Court’s verdict and hold elections in Punjab on May 14, as ordered? Will the army persuade the government to implement the order? And who will the US support?

The article answered the last question, saying that “from the US perspective, he (Mr. Khan) may be far from the ideal choice to helm an impoverished, insurgency-racked Islamic state”.

The article then pointed out that Mr Khan incorrectly blamed the US for bringing down his government. It also highlighted Mr Khan’s statement favouring the Taliban, his efforts to move closer to Russia and China and his disagreements with the Biden administration.

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