Imran Khan and the Politics of Hubris

Delusional Disorder:

Themes of delusions may fall into the following types: erotomanic type (patient believes that a person, usually of higher social standing, is in love with the individual); grandiose type (patient believes that he has some great but unrecognized talent or insight, a special identity, knowledge, power, self-worth, or special relationship with someone famous or with God); jealous type (patient believes his partner has been unfaithful); persecutory type (patient believes he is being cheated, spied on, drugged, followed, slandered, or somehow mistreated); somatic type (patient believes he is experiencing physical sensations or bodily dysfunctions—such as foul odors or insects crawling on or under the skin—or is suffering from a general medical condition or defect); mixed type (characteristics of more than one of the above types, but no one theme dominates); or unspecified type (patient’s delusions do not fall in described categories).{{1}}[[1]][[1]]


Increasingly, as we watch Imran Khan make his daily pronouncements, we get an impression that his fight with Nawaz Sharif is not really about the issues but is deeply personal.

Imran Khan is now showing the perfect symptoms of a delusional disorder. In this state, he is the only one with the character and strength to save Pakistan and everyone else is either corrupt or insincere. Further signs of this conditions can be seen his increasing return to a moment in personal history–the cricket world cup–which he can define and mobilize as the ultimate moment of personal glory.

So, if the purpose of the march was to force the government to look into the alleged election irregularities, then the mission has been accomplished. But that would have been the goal if Imran Khan were to have focused on the demands of his party. But his personal demand that the Prime Minister should resign as a precondition to negotiations has nothing to do with democracy or the general plans of his party but all to do with his personal hubris.

Naturally, if you are deluded enough to think that only YOU can be the ultimate saviour of a whole nation, then eliminating the one obstacle in your way becomes the ultimate objective.

Needless to say, this personal vendetta coupled with a fanatical belief in his own purity and incorrigibility strongly underwrites Imran Khan’s current politics.

Note that not many have been spared in his daily rants: By now former Chief Justice, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, and quite a few others have either been declared corrupt or have been labelled as an outcome of corrupt elections.

I have deep respect for his followers, for they have shown us that the young and the upward mobile segments of Pakistani society can come together for their nation. Sadly though their leader, instead of harnessing their energies for public good has decided to instrumentalise them for a personal fight.

At this point, it does not seem likely that anyone or any concessions from the government will be able to change Imran Khan’s mind. The reason for this is not that the government is not willing to concede, but that they are dealing with someone whose world-view is no longer rational. How does one negotiate with someone whose delusions of grandeur have completely taken over his rational self?

Furthermore, by constantly insisting on resignation of the elected prime minister, Imran Khan has trapped himself in an impossible situation in which his “victory” is connected to an almost impossible demand. But the demand itself, the pronouncement of it, has now become the Raison d’ˆtre of Imran Khan ‘s fight: he is no longer fighting for democracy or for Pakistan. He is, rather, now trying to prove, at the cost of democracy itself, that he does not compromise!

Sadly, while Imran Khan might be able to prove his resolve and fortitude through this process, he would have ultimately weakened the democratic process in Pakistan and empowered, yet again, the very forces that have always governed our destinies in Pakistan.

(Also published by Pakistani Bloggers)


By M R

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies.
Raja tweets @masoodraja

3 replies on “Imran Khan and the Politics of Hubris”

Leave a Reply to PTI's Undeniable Significance for Pakistan's Democratic Future - Masood Raja Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.