Imran Khan’s Kashmir connection.


SRINAGAR,OCT 09l: “Do you know Imran Khan has a long standing connection with Kashmir?” my friend said while we were watching Imran Khan’s oath taking ceremony as PM of Pakistan.“Really! And how’s that?” I asked. I was half expecting that he will tell me that Imran’s forebears were from Malaratta or maybe Zakura.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all because sooner or later every famous man turns out to be of Kashmiri origin. Nehru, Iqbal and Manto are of course well known examples but there are others too.  The infatuation that the local populace has with the neighbouring country keeps throwing up information or at least guesses and surmises about a famous person from there being of Kashmiri origin. One of my friends swears that Sheikh Rashid (prominent politician on ‘that’ side of the border) is a distant cousin of his mother. When I asked him to specify the ‘distant’ he recited such a long train of interconnecting relatives to define the relationship that if all of them were made to stand in line the line would extend from New Delhi to Islamabad. There are guys who swear that Nawaz Sharif is from this place and some even pinpoint his origin to Nawabazar (though whether they will still own him after his rather disreputable debacle remains a matter of conjecture!). “Ah! I knew you wouldn’t make out the connection,” my friend said triumphantly, “ You see it always happens that you can’t see something that’s right under your nose! I too had forgotten all about Imran Khan’s connection with Kashmir till I was caught in slow moving traffic and my eyes fell upon the merchandise in this pickup truck.”“Why should something loaded in a pickup truck remind you of Imran Khan’s Kashmir connection?!” I failed to understand what he was driving atA mischievous smile spread on his face and he said, “I see that you are still nowhere around guessing this connection. Let me give you a hint! It is a secret connection which most of the people here keep under wraps.”“Secret connection?”“Yes! An open secret though! The authorities take a strong note of it whenever it is discovered but try as they might they have not been able to do much about it,” he continued with an irritating smile still playing on his face.“Naturally any connection from across the border is sure to evoke that kind of response. But you make it sound like Imran Khan has a connection with every household in Kashmir!”  “Mmmh…Now that isn’t far from truth actually. Many, if not most, households have this Imran connection.”“Now how can that be!?” I said.“I am sure the women in your household are better acquainted with it!”“What do you mean?!” Now this raised my hackles for sure. The glamorous Khan does have more than a bit of a playboy image.“It is true of most households not only yours. It is the men who arrange this connection but it is the womenfolk who are more enamoured with it.” “God! What the hell are you talking about?!”“Okay! Okay!” he said as he went into peals of laughter, “I will tell you! It is all about power.”“What’s all this about power? What are you talking about? Of course one would naturally associate power with Imran Khan especially now that he is the premier of a country but where do Kashmiris come in on this?”“Ah! Most Kashmiris, if not all want, power! They are always ready to fight for it! Many a time they have come out on the roads for it!”“Really! I think the common man is too busy trying to scrape through life to worry about power.”“You are wrong! The common man, and I must say the common woman too, worries about power more than anyone else. It is by far the biggest worry he or she has!”“Look either you are crazy or you are hell bent upon driving me crazy. I can’t make head or tail of what you are saying.”“Ok calm down. I was just pulling your leg. But honestly I thought you would guess what I was hinting at.”“No I failed,” I said curtly, “You please enlighten me!”“It was this I was talking about,” he said and taking out something from his pocket he handed it to me. As I saw what it was that he gave me I understood what he meant by Imran’s Kashmir connection. The packet he handed me was the famous ‘Imran Heater Coil’ the heating element used in crude electric heaters and water boilers which are the most valued possessions in most Kashmiri households. This particular brand which goes by Imran Khan’s name and also carries his photograph (that hasn’t aged a bit since the last quarter of a century!) on its packaging is indeed a popular brand in Kashmir as it is supposed to the best available.I couldn’t help laughing out loud as all his ‘clues’ fell into place and what he was saying began to make sense.  ‘Power’ is the colloquial word for electric supply and if there were to be a Kashmiri version of Utopia it would be all about free and unlimited ‘power’. In fact if the common man has his way and if there were ever to be a Kashmiri constitution instead of having ‘Where men would be free…’ it would probably have ‘Where ‘power’ would be free…’ as its preamble. The Kashmiri ‘Connection’ too is understandable in the context. Through ‘Imran Heating Element’ Imran Khan has indeed a long standing connection with almost every household in Kashmir.  And if you are wondering whether Imran Khan’s becoming the PM will promote the sales of ‘Imran Heating Element’ let me tell you that it hardly matters. The coming winter is enough to do that.

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