In the last ten years Imran Khan sold an adorable dream to millions of innocent people, especially the youth, which is that political leaders — except him — have deceived the masses and looted the public wealth. He wasn’t entirely wrong as by and large our political leadership failed to deliver on the expectations of people. But then the matching fact is that the democratic regimes were never allowed to perpetuate. Not a single decade past since 1950 when Pakistan didn’t see a military ruler at the helm of state affairs. In 1958, we saw General Ayub Khan taking over the country; he continued until 1968. In 1977, General Zia repeated what General Ayub had done; Zia continued till 1988. Then in 1999, Pervez Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s elected government and took over the country; he ruled till 2008. We are in the second decade of twenty first century and, people feel that a military coup has already crept in although a façade of democratic government has just been put in place. Despite these episodes of direct and indirect military rule, the narrative that Imran sold was too good to be skeptic about for the common people who, tired of their daily drudgery, political and economic helplessness, are often prone to dream of an overnight prosperity. While his diagnosis of problems, that Pakistan and its people faced in way of their progress were only symptomatic and partial, his solutions to these problems are only rhetorical, which had a sedating effect over the psyche of a people already in love with miracles. Riding on the slogan of ‘corruption by politicians has crippled this country’ he assured people as if there were no other bigger structural and institutional issues at the heart of the political and economic impasse, Pakistan has been stuck in. So, the panacea he presented to overcome all these problems at once has always been like ‘if you have an honest man at the top, everything falls in line’. One would love to believe this sermonic solution; but only if one doesn’t know that modern states are too complex to flourish through a single virtue of one leader. Economic development, social well being and peace in any country is an outcome of pragmatic work in the areas of economy, taxation, security and international diplomacy. Today, he happens to be the prime minister and PTI rules in KP and Punjab as well. But people are already dejected with their governance. Transfers and postings of Police officers in Punjab tell us how little the PTI government is committed to its ideal of ‘Naya Pakistan’. The problem at the heart of this dilemma is that the idea of running a country of over 210 million was presented to be as simple as running a charitable hospital as if there was nothing wrong with the people, system, the country and the institutions therein. Hence, fairytale like economic plans were shared to deal with the most complex predicaments. While his diagnosis of problems, that Pakistan and its people faced in way of their progress were only symptomatic and partial — his solutions to these problems are only rhetorical, which had a sedating effect over the psyche of a people already in love with miracles Among many such mythological solutions, one was about recovering the ill-gotten wealth of corrupt politicians, businessmen, and former civil servants which has presumably been lying in overseas banks. Such a wealth stashed overseas, as per Imran Khan and his party men’s statements, was sometime $150 billion at other times $200 billion. So, people were promised that once Imran Khan, the upright leader, is at the helm, this wealth will be brought back to develop the country and to repay the loans that Pakistan has accumulated over the years. It must have looked promising to credulous people, because after all the worth of Pakistan’s annual budget was no more than $48 billion, and total external debt of $95 billion. The recovered wealth of around $200 billion from overseas banks would certainly be sufficient to remove all our economic woes. But only if the recovery of stashed money were as simple as Imran Khan presented to his gullible voters. Experience from other countries suggests that it’s extremely complicated and takes years to bring back such wealth. But till then Pakistanis must earn their living. Likewise, Imran Khan promised that once he’s at the helm, overseas Pakistanis will not only send increased remittances but also come back to invest here. We may get an idea on how flimsy such a plan could be by seeing the dismal response from overseas Pakistanis to Khan’s donation appeal for Diamer-Bhasha dam. The biggest of all his honour-evoking promise was that come what may he would prefer to commit a suicide than going to International Monitory Fund. Within weeks of his premiership he’s already requested IMF to fund his government. The dilemma Imran Khan faces is while in opposition, he lived in the La-la land but running the government of Pakistan is a complex challenge from real world. The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics. He tweets @Zulfi Rao1 Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2018.