Monday Feb 05 2018

Sunday Times journalist says hard not to compare Imran to Trump


ISLAMABAD: The Sunday Times Magazine's Ben Judah, in an interview published on Sunday, compared Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan with US President Donald Trump on a number of issues.

Imran loathes Trump but it is "hard not to compare the two", the journalist wrote, adding: "Khan, like Trump, emerged from the moneyed elite, riding high on a personality cult, purporting to be the voice of every forgotten man, railing against effete liberals and the corruption and nepotism of the political class. And just like Trump, this ageing, hair-obsessed star is accused of sexual harassment."

During the interview, Imran claimed former party member and lawmaker Ayesha Gulalai "was paid" to accuse him of harassment and sending her "inappropriate messages".

He made the statement in response to a question regarding Gulalai, a Member of the National Assembly who quit the PTI in early August after levelling allegations of harassment and corruption against the party chief.

"She has been paid for that," Imran told the journalist.

"You see what I have to put up with?" Khan said, accusing his enemies of smearing him with 'Fake News'—one of a handful of similarities the British journalist used in the interview to compare the former-cricketer-turned-politician to the US president.

Despite similarities with the US president, during the interview, Imran raised questions over Pakistan's support in the US-led 'war on terror' and criticised drone strikes on Pakistani soil that Trump has continued after taking over the US presidency.

"American drone strikes in Pakistan must stop. It's butchery, and the true horror of it is hidden from the West," he said.

The article also described Imran as a politician the Taliban "would like to see installed as the country's next leader".

'Not a strategy guy'

In the article, Judah said he questioned Imran about his promises to "bring the China model to Pakistan” to fight poverty, but was unable to get a reasonable explanation from him.

"We have a lot to learn from what they did with industry," Imran said in reply to the question. He said the three main points of his overall plan for Pakistan were "a sovereign foreign policy", "an Islamic welfare state" and "the China model".

When asked if he could give any details, Judah wrote that Imran's eyes "just glazed over".

As part of the profile interview, Judah said he also met with Asad Umar, PTI vice-president and Imran's close aide, who admitted to the journalist that the party chairperson was "not great in this department".

"He's not a strategy guy, let's put it that way," Asad Umar told the reporter. "He has never been in an institution, and doesn't know how to work in an institutional setting."