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How Imran Khan’s Popularity Reflects Different Kinds of Pakistani Liberals

There is no distinct definition of Pakistani liberals; in fact, it is one of the most ambiguous and confusing terms. One can find two classes with beliefs quite contrary to each other calling themselves a liberal. Well, one can distinguish between opposing liberal classes in Pakistan by merely looking at Imran Khan’s followers and his opponents.

Different Kinds of Pakistani Liberals

Soon after it became clear that PTI chief and ex-Pakistani cricket world cup winner Imran Khan is going to become the next prime minister of Pakistan, international media started reporting on Khan’s conservative views and their impact in future of the country. Apart from the concerns of international media, an analysis of Khan’s critics and admirers reveals that there are two classes of Pakistani liberals who might be opposing each other.

Liberals Who Supported Khan in Past

A look at Imran Khan’s past shows that he was by no means conservative. The athlete was famous in the west due to his playboy image. His charismatic personality, good looks an image of being the ladies’ man and other such aspects made him a heartthrob of Pakistani liberals. Off course, it was his role as the captain of the cricket world cup winning team in 1992 that made him popular among all the Pakistanis irrespective of their position on a liberal to conservative spectrum.

Liberals Who Withdrew Support from Khan

In the recent years, many Pakistani liberals have withdrawn support from Khan, because they think that Khan is rising to power with the military’s help. This class favors Nawaz Sharif for his bold stance on foreign policy and extremists. Such liberals also criticize Imran Khan for discriminating between good Taliban and bad Taliban. They are also angry with Khan for his anti-feminist views. They think that Khan has two faces; while talking to western media, he shares his opinions of making Pakistan a social welfare state. But, on the other hand, he has a soft corner for extremists in the country.

Those Who Support Him Now

Well, many Imran haters from the public and lower middle classes, label Imran Khan as pro-liberal. They still target him for being a Yahoodi agent (as he married a jew). They bring out his extramarital affairs and sexual scandals to tarnish his image. Such members of the public think Imran as liberals’ stooge, and they label the youth that supports the Khan as mummy daddy burgers (a common slang used for the youngsters from liberal class). Well, these liberals might advocate modern lifestyle but they might oppose some pacifist stance on foreign policy and might end up getting the title of pseudo-liberals.

There is a class in Pakistan that supports Imran Khan but doesn’t identifies itself with conservatives And mANY OF THOSE who criticize Khan call themselves liberals

The Divided Pakistani Liberals

One thing is clear that on the basis of Imran Khan’s fans and critics one can say that Pakistani liberals are divided into two categories: those who believe in making country an enlightened state run by a leader who is educated enough and was popular in the west, and those who think that Khan supports extremists and discourages the women empowerment.

The public’s perception of Khan suggests that in the present political scenario of Pakistan it is not possible to generalize which party has the support of conservatives and which party has the support from the liberals. As both, the classes have internal divisions according to their own concerns. But, Khan’s followers and critics’ prove that Pakistani liberals and even conservatives have the multiple shades.

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