Imran Khan may be in jail but his political future can't be written off

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Islamabad, August 12 (IANS) Former Prime Minister of Pakistan and chief of political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is faced with most challenging times after being sentenced to jail and being disqualified from politics for at least five years. Khan's opponents claim that a big question looms: can Imran Khan's name be removed from Pakistan's political spectrum? 

Imran Khan gained fame in Pakistan's political spectrum for reasons that could not be equated or related to any other political leader in the country. Khan's celebrity image, his glittering and successful cricketing career, his astounding success in major philanthropic initiatives like Shauqat Khanam hospital, support and assistance from Pakistanis in the country and across the globe and his political slogan of across-the-board accountability, touched the hearts and minds of his already existent massive support among the masses.  

Imran Khan's profile was filled with non-political success stories, which became a major positive point of credibility in his political campaigning as well as Khan was seen as a much superior and credible leader in comparison to other political leaders like Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others. People emotionally rallied behind Imran Khan and trusted everything he said because they wanted to remove the existing family dynastic political legacies of Bhutto and Sharif families, who had been previously accused and charged of pilfering billions of the country's money for their own personal gains.  

In comparison, Imran Khan was different and a far better choice in many ways for the masses to support and follow. Khan did not have a political background, nor did he have any intentions of bringing his two sons into the politics of the country. Imran Khan did not have a tainted history of corruption either, making him the best man to lead the country forward. 

Khan's popularity and support among the masses has been the biggest challenge for his opponents, who may have been able to oust him off premiership, lodge cases of corruption and sedition against him, put him in jail and see his name out of the election race through legal disqualification; Khan's support among the people seems to remain pretty much intact. 

"Imran Khan is loved by the people of Pakistan. They trust him with money, they trust him with hopes of a better Pakistan. They trust his struggle to hold the looters of this country accountable. They trust him as the savior of Pakistan. Imran Khan's support is not based on benefits or political gains, it is based on emotions, on his vision and his charisma," said Marium Malik, a diehard supporter and fan of Imran Khan. 

"Imran Khan is the only person who has highlighted the core problem of this country and has shaken up the powerful gates of the military, exposing their plots and planning to dictate political rulers. He challenged them like no one else dared to do so in the past. Such a man can and the support he enjoys among the majority of the country's population, can never be diminished," said another supporter of Imran Khan, Virda Memon. 

Experts say that the way Imran Khan and his political party has been handled; the way government and the military establishment has dismantled Khan's political party, it would not serve any purpose for Khan's opponents and would only increase his support among the masses. 

"Imran Khan's strength is among the people. And that has only increased in time," said senior analyst Javed Siddique, adding that "you cannot end Imran Khan's politics by doing revenge politics to remove him from election." 

It would not be wrong to say that Imran Khan may be in jail on charges of corruption, he may have serious allegations against him and he may have been disqualified from the next elections; Khan remains as the country's most popular political figure, who enjoys support of the majority population of the country and remains as the biggest political nightmare to his political opponents.  

"Imran Khan's time in jail will help his political muscles get stronger. His political image will only get stronger. His politics may have hit a roadblock for the moment, but it will certainly not end," said Kamran Yousaf, a senior political analyst.