Up close with PM Imran Khan: The First 100 Days

I had planned to go to Peshawar again on Thursday (11-29-2018), but no meetings were arranged, and that turned out to be a good thing. Because to my luck, I was in for a nice surprise. I was able to get gallery passes to see Imran Khan speak at the Jinnah Convention Center, in Islamabad, which is located just five minutes from where I live.  A Senator, who is also a family friend, graciously supplied her tickets.

The 100 Days celebration and event was intended to mark Prime Minister Imran Khan’s achievements for the past 100 days. It was another brilliant learning experience about an aspect of Pakistani culture, and very informative towards my research as well.

They didn’t allow mobile phones or purses inside or anything that could possibly be thrown at him (according to one security guard lol), but I charmed them into allowing me just my pen and paper, and I fervently took notes throughout the entire event. Because of the current demands of my fieldwork, I will have to share all my anthropological observations and notes in my blog another time (or update this post later with them).

Asad Umar (Finance Minister), Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Foreign Affairs Minister), and Shehzad Arbab (Advisor to IK) were among the speakers before him too, speaking on all the achievements of the first 100 days. It was all in Urdu and the crowds talking constantly made it difficult to translate but overall I understood the majority of it.

Additionally, there was an awesome singer who performed songs he wrote for PM Imran Khan, including “Meh to Tumhare Saat Hu”. Beautiful singer. I was singing along and clapping rhythmically with the audience. lol. Aside from the note taking, I totally blended in. 🙂 People were screaming, whistling, yelling for Imran Khan in the gallery/balcony area where I sat, and doing this randomly throughout the entire 3-4 hour event…. yelling such phrases like “Wazir Azam, Pakistan, IMRAAAAN KHAAAN.”

I sat right in the center, four rows from the front in the balcony, with a perfect view of the Prime Minister.

As I noted, we had to turn in our phones ..but I am glad we did, it was nice to just take in the experience…

Instead, I took some photos of me standing outside the Jinnah convention center before he spoke..

                       

It was pretty cool to hear the Prime Minister speak and to see him live. I am grateful for the experience. One of the things that was most touching and has been from the beginning is his ability to speak and relate to the “aam admi”, the common man. His reference to the “desi murghi” brought on a lot of laughs and cheers from the audience in particular. But there is great significance to his statement on the value of chickens within Pakistan, the notion of self-reliance, sustainability, and self-sufficiency (the “buzzwords” in development) is loaded in the idea, (as noted by such development experts like Bill Gates recently, for instance).

18 objectives were achieved, and 16 are in progress. Among the 18 objectives, agriculture and water policy are critical and important to both rural and urban areas in Pakistan, and central to my research. It was good to hear the progress and efforts in these sectors.

The speakers professed and pleaded with the Pakistani public to put their trust and faith (umeed) in Imran Khan. Understandably, this was just 100 days. We will see what he can do within his 5 year time in office as Prime Minister. It is true that change does not happen in 100 days.

This situation resembles the unfortunate dilemma with development policy. Too often we have tried quick fixes, 3-5-7 year type programs even, but the real change happens incrementally over time and with investment in the sectors like agriculture and water.

Admittedly, I did cry when I first heard the Pakistani National Anthem after Prime Minister Imran Khan finally arrived at 4:10pm to give his speech and start the program. I don’t hear this anthem often, and it is beautiful and touching even to an American Pakistani.

I will have to save more on my observations, notes, and personal insights on Imran Khan’s progress for another time, unfortunately, as I prepare for my travels tomorrow again. It was also quite an eventful weekend as well.

Tomorrow, I will return to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Peshawar, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s original “home.”

This was certainly an experience to add to my fieldwork in Pakistan, but I am crossing my fingers that I will experience more from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the remaining time I have in the North of Pakistan…. Godwilling, Inshallah.

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