May 15, 2023
SF Gate

Imran Khan Is Important, But What He Stands For Is More Important.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, FRCP and Salman Ahmad, MD

The surprise arrest of Imran Khan when he appeared on Tuesday at the High Court of Islamabad appears to the outside world like the replay of a familiar scenario. A reformer with modern ideas confronts a privileged political class that now angrily seeks retribution for such an outrage. In keeping with this scenario, rioting broke out in Pakistani cities, quickly followed by a media crackdown from the regime that Imran Khan had opposed.

After becoming a national hero as a cricketeer, leading Pakistan to its one and only world championship, Imran used his enormous popularity in the risky business of opposing the military forces that empower and depose regimes at will. Like his predecessors Khan had courted the military to become prime minister in 2018 and was ousted in a thinly veiled coup in 2022 when he turned on them. Inflammatory charges are hurled by both sides, and (again fulfilling the familiar scenario), Khan is being accused of corruption, the charges that led to his arrest, by a regime that feeds on corruption to remain in power.

World opinion will be firmly on Khan’s side, whatever happens in various trials and repressive measures he and his supporters go through now. An assassination attempt already occurred when a gunman wounded Khan at a rally in Punjab last November.

Khan rose to power at the head of his own political party in Pakistan by championing democratic reforms, and anyone who is historically minded will hear an echo of “traitor to his own class” that was aimed at Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was a populist President. Reactionary social forces are short-sighted. They seek and often attain victory today with no regard for failure tomorrow. Entrenchment never looks to the future, a fatal flaw in the long run.

But the long run looks to be very far away in Pakistan and in the dogmatic, fearful entrenched, and medieval forces that identify as Islam but are not true to its teachings of mercy, compassion, and love. These same forces have lagged behind the trends that have shaped the modern world for more than a century. These include democratic governments, voting rights for women and minorities, civil law replacing religious law, the fall of despots and dictators, universal education, tolerance of minorities, and economic justice for the poor.

In one way or another, Khan stood for the emergence of these trends in Pakistan—as a graduate of Oxford in 1975, he was keenly aware of the disparity between Western democracies and the prevailing politics at home. The legal hurdles and corruption charges being hurled against him, no matter what the courts adjudicate, serve as a smokescreen for resisting meaningful social change. Khan will probably find himself forced into an anti-Western stance, given that the U.S. and other nuclear powers bow to Pakistan’s possession of nuclear arms and the perceived threat that is being held in check by the military. This was true during the Afghani war when Osama bin Laden had safe haven in Pakistan, as did Al-Qaida thanks to the all-powerful intelligence services in Pakistan.

Looking the other way has led to many disasters in U.S. foreign policy, with the grim shadow of Rwanda and Sarajevo hanging over American inaction and the inaction of Western Europe as well. Imran Khan isn’t asking for intervention, and armed conflict isn’t in the offing. But important as he is, the values that Khan stands for, which can and should reshape the modern Pakistan, need to be defended as loudly as possible. In this case, compassion, justice, and reform go hand in hand.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters.” Rumi

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, FRCP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation.  Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 91st book, Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life  explores and reinterprets the physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual benefits that the practice of meditation can bring.  For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution. His latest book,  Living in the Light co-authored with Sarah Platt-Finger. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

Salman Ahmadis a Pakistani-American physician, filmmaker, humanitarian & musician. Salman Founded South Asia’s biggest rock band, Junoon ( ) He has been a U.N. goodwill ambassador, HIV / AIDS, COVID-19, and Polio Eradication. Along with his wife, Dr. Samina, Salman founded SSGWI which provides interfaith dialogue, education to girls, homes to the homeless, peace & rehabilitation He is the author of the book, Rock & Roll Jihad ( Simon & Schuster ) Dr. Salman Ahmad is a close aide of former PM Imran Khan & his focal person on arts and culture.

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