January 11, 2006Foreign Affairs

One Khan on the other

Imran’s bizarre take on A Q (Or, it’s all India’s fault, really!)

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The second part of William Langewiesche’s detailed feature on A Q Khan has been published in the Jan/Feb issue of The Atlantic (subscription required). Here’s an excerpt.

Still, the idolization was excessive. I went to see another famous Pakistani who had received much of the same… Imran Khan, now fifty-three, is a tall and handsome man whose reputation for integrity—already strong—has been enhanced by his public denunciations of political corruption and by his founding of a large cancer hospital for the poor in Lahore. But that was not the point of my visit. Instead I wanted to talk to him about A. Q. Khan, and more generally about the nature of fame in Pakistan. I said, It seems so extreme. I understand how important the atomic bomb is to Pakistan. It is important to any country that acquires it. But I’m still wondering what it is about Pakistan that such a cult could be made around one man.”

He said, You have to understand the psyche of the Subcontinent, and not just Pakistan. If you go to India, there is more idol worship there—the worshipping of stars’—than you will find anywhere else in the world. I was a Pakistani playing in India, but I’ve never had such adulation. I mean, in India everything is worshipped. They have idols for everything. Hinduism, you know.”


You will find Indian film stars—all of them—behaving like A. Q. Khan. It’s not just the size of the crowds; it’s their attitude. Their film stars are like demigods, literally. Any celebrity. Their number-one batsman, for instance: the way he is treated in India is just incredible.”

People want to touch him?”

More! He would need security. The first time we toured India, even to cross the lobby of the hotel from the lift to the coffee shop we needed security guards. It was that sort of thing. The hotel was surrounded by thousands of people. We had never seen such a spectacle in our lives. And that culture is also in Pakistan—not to the same extent, because Islam challenges it, but don’t forget that most people here were converts from Hinduism, and they have retained a lot of these qualities.” [The Atlantic Online]Idolisation of celebrities is neither peculiarly subcontinental nor exclusive to any one religion. For instance, these folks were hardly ever subcontinental Hindus.

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More extracts from Langewiesche’s article on A Q Khan
Did cricket help at all?

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