Prime Minister Imran Khan, with what appeared to be thinly veiled admiration, recently shared how both he and the American President, Donald Trump, have had to get creative and do “a lot of out of the box thinking” over the course of their political careers. In an interview with Der Spiegel’s Susanne Koelbl the prime minister intimated that Trump was unlike other politicians because “he played by his own rules”. It is easy to see why this would inspire admiration in Imran Khan as both he and Trump presented themselves as outsiders challenging the status quo during their respective election campaigns, when in fact that could not be further from the truth. They were both rich, debauched celebrities with a penchant for wanting to stay in the spotlight. Yes, they may have not been part of the established political elite but their interests and lifestyles have always aligned closely to those of that class, far more than they ever did with the common people they claim to be fighting for.
“We had to be very unorthodox, and in some ways, Donald Trump does too”, Imran Khan stated whilst recounting the political journey of his party and himself. And while he would have you believe that to be true, this also has no basis in reality. Imran Khan and his party came to power the way many other political parties in Pakistan have, through the aid of the establishment. The PML-N, for example, also rose to power owing to its chief having extremely close ties with the late dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. Although the PML-N has grown over decades to become anti-establishment, now. Therefore, there is nothing unorthodox about the PTI or Imran Khan. In the lead up to the 2014 elections, the way this party became a household name overnight, with billboards popping up in every city and politicians clamouring to leave their parties and join the PTI, makes it obvious who exactly supported their meteoric rise. Coming to Donald Trump, again, his election is not unprecedented just unexpected. The U.S has actually elected another celebrity president before, namely Ronald Reagan. Before his entry into politics Reagan was a Hollywood actor. Reagan and Trump also share the distinction of being callously indifferent to an on-going health crisis during their administration. Both these men are responsible for causing thousands of deaths due to their negligence. Bad celebrity presidents certainly are nothing new then.
Like recognises like, and that is what Imran Khan’s admiration of Trump is borne out of. They both dragged down electoral campaigning to a new low. Their entire politics is based on increasing polarisation. Essentially, they have built their careers off the back of prejudice, hate and misinformation. They misrepresented themselves as noble men committed to saving the poor public from the vulture like political incumbents, while sacrificing their luxurious lifestyles for the greater good. When in fact their administrations have caused massive suffering. Just like Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ didn’t materialise, Donald Trump couldn’t ‘Make America Great Again’. Imran’s Khan government has all but destroyed Pakistan’s already beleaguered economy. And, is increasingly hostile towards the press as even an ounce of criticism cannot be tolerated, another thing our prime minister has in common with Trump, who routinely labels anything he doesn’t like as fake news.
Another abhorrent thread that ties these two together is their disdain for women. Trump is a known sexual assaulter, who has been publicly been accused of rape. At least 26 women have accused him of sexual assault. And now, with a new appointment to the U.S supreme court he has brought about a conservative majority that threatens to overturn Roe v Wade, possibly snatching away American women’s right to have an abortion. Imran Khan, while not publicly accused of any sex crimes, has had an equally dismal record when it comes to women’s rights. In the past, he has made multiple statements deriding feminism as a western concept and responsible for the degradation of motherhood, he has also attacked female political opponents by implying that they slept their way to their positions instead of being elected, which is ironic coming from a man famous for being ‘selected’. Imran khan’s government also conferred the Pride of Performance, a prestigious national award, upon singer Ali Zafar, who has had multiple sexual harassment allegations made against him. As if that wasn’t enough the prime minister then appointed Ali Zafar as ambassador of an educational initiative of a university that the prime minister himself is a chair of. Clearly, Imran Khan like Trump cares nothing for the women who have had to suffer through sexual abuse and harassment. So it appears that Imran Khan and Donald Trump are cut from the same cloth, indeed.