Some fifty years ago a friend asked me to take one of those ubiquitous Readers Digest quizzes. One of the questions in the quiz was: “What will you do if you come across a barrier in your path?” My answer was that I will go over it. Then I was asked what if you cannot go over it? This back and forth went on a bit more even involving ladders and pole vaults but finally I said in desperation, if I cannot go over it I will just go back. A U-Turn? The correct answer of course was, I will go around it. I did not do too well on the rest of the quiz either. For most of my life I have followed a simple rule. Deciding what you want is the most difficult part of life. But once who have made a decision then life becomes very simple. You will either get what you want or you will not. Of course any decision of some importance must be made with deliberation and close attention to available facts. And all possible effort must be made to achieve the goal. If you fail then as is said it is better to ‘run away and live to fight another day’ (U-Turn). Why am I thinking about this fifty years later? Well this has been a guiding principle in my life but recently there has been much talk of our Prime Minister (PM) and his U-turns. Our PM has my full sympathy in this matter. What is expected of him, is it that he should just keep at it even if what he wants done is just not happening. Is it not better for him to accept that what he wanted is no longer possible and just go back to something more possible? Yes better a U-turn than to keep tilting at windmills. Personally I have never met Imran Khan (IK) or discussed his political philosophy with him but if he took out the religious emphasis, I would consider him a left of centre politician. Frankly the sort of ‘welfare’ state that IK wants is not too far from Socialism. Unfortunately for IK we live in a world where socialism is not quite the flavour of the day as it was fifty years ago. All politicians lie or if we wish to be charitable, they are economical with the truth. If IK had said before the elections that once he becomes PM, there will be a period of economic turmoil, some prices of necessary items will go up, the value of the rupee against the dollar will try to go down the toilet; and that the bureaucracy and the police forces will most likely not cooperate with his anti-corruption agenda because an end to corruption means that these ‘government servants’ will lose a significant part of their income, then would he have become PM? IK basically said elect me and Pakistan will become a modern Muslim welfare state. An oxymoron thrown in there but still a reasonable political slogan. Of course not quite as catchy as the one offered by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) fifty years ago. But ZAB ran Pakistan for more than five years but still did not give every Pakistani what he had offered: roti-kapra-makan (food clothing and shelter). But nobody ever accused ZAB of making any U-Turns. Personally I am not an IK supporter but I must admit that he is definitely not tainted by any shadow of personal corruption and ever since his political party became prominent, IK has been one of the most closely ‘examined’ politician in Pakistan. He might not be the smartest politician around but Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has been accused of much; but never of being smart As far as the three time PM is concerned, I once asked a supporter of his about what was accomplished during those three terms, the best he could come up with was the ‘motorway’. As far as the seemingly forever chief minister of the Punjab is concerned, all he will be remembered for is building roads and cutting down trees. And what happened to ‘sasti roti’ (low cost bread), saaf paani (clean drinking water), mobile hospitals, a hundred CNG buses for Lahore, and a few other such, U-Turns? About the so called ‘Shahbaz speed’ it is perhaps best described by a quote from the great United States (US) folk philosopher, Yogi Berra: “We might be lost but we are making good time”. Personally I am not an IK supporter but I must admit that he is definitely not tainted by any shadow of personal corruption and ever since his political party became prominent, IK has been one of the most closely ‘examined’ politician in Pakistan. He might not be the smartest politician around but Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has been accused of much; but never of being smart. As far as the smart PMs of Pakistan are concerned they never did too well. Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated, H. S. Suhrawardy died a mysterious death in exile, ZAB was murdered by the judiciary, and his daughter was assassinated. Once I even wrote an article for Daily Times in which I suggested that smart people don’t really make good politicians. Not being smart of course does not mean being stupid. What it does mean is that it is highly unlikely that you can have a meaningful discussion about quantum mechanics with them. So coming full circle, it is my opinion that barriers are there to be broken down and not avoided. But at the same time politics is the art of the possible. IK’s heart is in the right place but he does not have either the political acumen or the intellectual ability to go at the barriers facing him alone. He needs people that can help him achieve his goals. His major problem is and will remain that as long he is focusing on corruption, the bureaucracy and the police will not cooperate for the reason I mentioned above. The question then is whether we can really get a ‘Naya’ (new) Pakistan as promised by IK. I don’t think that IK can bring around the ‘revolution’ he wants. You cannot have a Naya Pakistan filled with the same old Pakistanis. Will Pakistan change? I think it can but probably not in my lifetime. The writer is a former editor of the Journal of Association of Pakistani descent Physicians of North America (APPNA) Published in Daily Times, December 18th2018.