Pakistan

On Saturday, Chairman Imran Khan failed to provide a comprehensive history of his finances to the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition seeking Khan’s disqualification over the non-disclosure of assets, ownership of offshore companies and receiving foreign funding for his party.


Article continues after the advertisement

This apparent failure of Khan had the political battle go beyond the arenas of courts and politics and led to speculations over his mother’s death and its connection with Khan’s wealth, an insinuation that was left open for the merciless and intemperate social media.

It’s unfortunate that the attack, though apparently a political commentary, held connotations beyond the ethics of politics and journalism and were retweeted with distasteful personal attacks on Khan with his dead mother being central to their slurs and propaganda.

Although the allegations – originally generated by PML-N social media pages – have not yet been put forth in any of legal proceedings or any other formal level, it has already become a de facto defence of PML-N social media activists and pages.

Contrary to these misconceptions and propagandist rants, Imran Khan did take his mother to the UK for treatment.

Witnessing his mother’s pain and misery, Khan used the best that his fame, money and influence could provide for her. It was at a very late stage that the family had come to know about his mother’s fatal disease. The feelings of helplessness, as he has described in his book, generated the idea of making a hospital. If this could happen to a mother of a person like Khan, he wondered, what would happen to the people who cannot even afford treatment at home, let alone in the UK.

He made a hospital in his mother’s memory even though he could afford treatment, realising what the poor people go through. A tribute, as he thinks, similar or perhaps magnanimous than any other monument for the deceased beloved.

After retiring from cricket in 1992, Khan had decided to put all his efforts in completing a cancer hospital in Lahore for which he had been gathering funds and patronage from the late 1980s.

Though Khan had already decided to retire in 1987, he kept playing and eventually lead the team to win the 1992 World Cup. This was done solely on the hope that he could attract a continuous flow of funds for his cancer hospital project, and it was only possible as long as he remained a popular cricketer and a successful captain in a country where everyone is obsessed with cricket.

According to British author, Ivo Tennant, Khan feared that the money for the hospital would stop or disappear once the euphoria of the World Cup victory fades away.

At the time of Khan’s retirement, the hospital building had already begun to take shape, but that wasn’t enough. He worried that he would not be in the limelight anymore and maintaining the interest of possible donors would be too difficult. This is when he entered the politics.

Since opening, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust have both accumulated local and international recognition. In 1992, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan came together for the Shaukat Khanum Appeal Concert.

In the 1990s, Diana, Princess of Wales, visited the Pakistani hospital.