Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:14 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:14 | SYDNEY



Rory Medcalf


23 November 2007 15:04

If Australian media attention is any guide, anyone would think that Imran Khan is the head of the popular opposition to Musharraf’s dictatorship. But there is something crucial missing from the breathless media coverage of the escapades of the former-Pakistan-cricket-captain-turned-gallantly-dishevelled-democratic-rebel. 

That is, simply, the numbers.

It seems that statistics are all well and good when reporting feats on the pitch, yet of no interest in explaining political turmoil in a strategically critical country.   

For the record, Imran's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) won a mere 160,686 votes in the 2002 parliamentary election, or somewhere between 0.6 and 0.8 percent of votes cast. This translated into a single seat, held by Imran himself.  (Again, for the record, that’s 42 votes per run scored by Imran Khan in his test cricket career, or 444 votes per wicket.)

In other words, in a country with a population of 164 million plus, Imran Khan and his party have so far shown themselves to be electorally irrelevant. Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party, on the other hand, gained about 25 percent of the vote in the 2002 election — the largest vote for a single party in Pakistan’s crowded political bazaar. 

None of this detracts from the quality of Imran's demonstrated courage, principles or grooming. But could his media fan club — in Australia and the other cricket-playing nations — please get a sense of proportion?