Let me confess that on August 18, 1988, I was wrong about Imran Khan. It so happened that on that day I was in Sydney. I went to see the Pakistan Trade Commissioner, who was a friend. I wanted to give him a surprise, not knowing that I was in for a greater surprise. As I walked into the Pakistan Trade Commissioner’s office in Sydney and asked the receptionist about seeing him, she asked me if I had a prior appointment. I told her I didn’t and that I was a friend and wanted to surprise him. She replied that I would have to wait as she could not disturb him. I asked the reason why he could not be disturbed. She said, “He is giving an interview to ABC News”. Meanwhile, she asked me to sign a condolence book which was lying on a table in the waiting area. I inquired whose condolence book it was. With a surprised look, she told me it was for General Zia-ul-Haq and his entire team who had died in a plane crash in Bahawalpur. My first reaction was to ask if he was with his military team or in the presence of other ministers. She told me he was with his military team and the American ambassador and a Brigadier General were also killed in the plane crash. She also informed me that General Akhtar Abdur Rahman who was the architect of the so-called Afghan Jihad was also among the dead. I refused to sign the condolence book because I was of the view that Zia had damaged Pakistan like nobody else. After a few minutes, my friend Chaudhry Zaheer came out of his office with a TV crew from ABC News. After an exchange of greetings, Zaheer told the ABC News correspondent that he should be interviewing me on Zia’s assassination because I was a journalist from Pakistan. Khan has fallen victim to his own propaganda, believing that Pakistan’s economic woes would be cured by bringing back the foreign assets of Pakistani politicians and businessmen. But so far, he has not been successful in preparing the grounds to claim Pakistan’s laundered money I told the ABC correspondent that I would like to first have details of the incident as the news of Zia and his comrades dying in a plane crash was just given to me and I did not have any details on it. At the same time, I said that I would not like to be interviewed in the embassy as what I was going to say was not something good about the dead dictator. The reporter offered I come to his office where he would show me the newswire service which was pouring in about the death of the General. As I was going out of the building, we met an Australian in the lift who said, “Sorry to hear about your president.” I replied, “I am not sorry. It’s good riddance.” The Australian turned around while leaving the lift and said, “Is there any chance of Imran Khan becoming the President of Pakistan.” Khan was hugely popular in Australia as a cricketer. “No way,” I had said because till that time, Imran Khan had not shown any inclination to join politics. My emphatic answer was proven wrong after 30 years when Imran Khan became the Prime Minister (PM). After the death of the military commander and the President of Pakistan, things started falling in the right slots and there was no chaos. General Aslam Beg did not wait to find out about Zia’s killing and flew back in a separate plane from Bahawalpur to offer the position of president directly to Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who was then the Senate chairperson and was constitutionally supposed to take over after the seat of the president fell vacant. Today, I wonder how prophetic that Australian was, 31 years back. Imran Khan may have been selected by the establishment to become the PM of Pakistan through political engineering of the elections, but ever since he has taken over, he is being criticised for not delivering on his promises. It was easy for Imran Khan to play the role of an opposition leader and criticise the government all the time, but it is disappointing to see that he and his team had not given serious thought to the problems faced by the country. He has fallen victim to his own propaganda, believing that Pakistan’s economic woes would be cured by bringing back the foreign assets of Pakistani politicians and businessmen. But so far, he has not been successful in preparing the grounds to claim Pakistan’s laundered money. In November last year, the bureaucrats around him gave him the wrong information, saying that they had signed with 26 countries an agreement under which information about Pakistanis foreign assets would be shared on a government-government basis. Actually, what Imran Khan, who has little understanding of Pakistan’s economic woes, did not realise was that even after identifying the accounts of Pakistanis, it would take a long time to get the money from the Pakistani assets abroad back to the country. The process of bringing money back and establishing that it was laundered in foreign countries may take several years. Imran Khan is trying to reform the system and has promised to double the revenue from taxes. Here I am reminded of two incidents from Musharraf’s era. In front of around 200 participants of an oil and gas conference where Musharraf was the chief guest, I had said that while he is trying to bring reforms at an accelerated pace, he doesn’t realise that there is a heavier foot of bureaucracy on the brakes, so if he thinks he’s going anywhere, he isn’t. This analogy was liked by Musharraf and he said that he is a man who would get it done because in our army we set up our targets and go for them. Imran Khan is finding it hard to motivate the bureaucracy to take decisions because of the hyperactive National Accountability Bureau, which is taking action against the bureaucracy and the media, treats every case as a big scam story before the involved officers are convicted. To reform the taxation system, Musharraf had set up a committee headed by former World Bank Vice President, Shahid Hussain. Two members of this committee asked me if the salaries of tax collectors are raised to a decent level, will that curb the corruption in the taxation department. I had told them it is not possible for them to now reform them by increasing their salary because the kind of money extorted by the taxation department’s bureaucrats was so large that even a 100 percent salary increase would not stop the corruption in the department. Imran Khan has defied all logic to become the PM of Pakistan with the support of undemocratic forces but he is still behaving like the opposition leader and it seems that he has no clue as to how to meet the challenges of today. His emphatic statements do not give him any window to retract himself and thus, he is known as the master of the U-turn by the opposition. The writer is a freelance journalist and author of What’s wrong with Pakistan? Published in Daily Times, February 15th 2019.