Prime Minister Imran Khan: A genuine hero in letter and spirit

The writer states, "Prime Minister Imran Khan offers those inborn traits which are relevant to the development of a leadership legacy that can help the future generation of Pakistan especially establishing a leadership vacuum that has existed for so many years."

Prime Minister Imran Khan

“The history of the world is but the biography of great men,” Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle in his book ‘Heroes and Hero Worship’ lists the true qualities of a hero. In his book ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History’ (1841), he argued that the actions of a “Great Man” play a key role in history, claiming that “the history of the world is the biography of great men”. Carlyle was a British historian, satirical writer, essayist, translator, philosopher, mathematician, and teacher.

Defining a Hero

He argues that in every generation there is a genuine and a spurious hero. If hero is to mean genuine, then he says the Hero as Man of Letters will be found discharging a function for us which is ever honorable, ever the highest; and was once well known to be the highest. He is uttering forth, in such way as he has, the inspired soul of him; all that a man, in any case, can do. I say inspired; for what we call “originality,” “sincerity,” “genius,” the heroic quality we have no good name for, signifies that.

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The Hero is he who lives in the inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine and Eternal, which exists always, unseen to most, under the Temporary, Trivial: his being is in that; he declares that abroad, by act or speech as it may be in declaring himself abroad. His life, as we said before, is a piece of the everlasting heart of Nature herself: all men’s life is, but the weak many know not the fact, and are untrue to it, in most times; the strong few are strong, heroic, perennial because it cannot be hidden from them.

The Man of Letters, like every Hero, is there to proclaim this in such sort as he can. Intrinsically it is the same function which the old generations named a man Prophet, Priest, Divinity for doing; which all manner of Heroes, by speech or by act, are sent into the world to do.

PMIK fits Carlyle’s definition of a Hero

Based on Carlyle’s “Man of Letter” we can say that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been True about his asset declaration, he has been sent through Divine providence and his mission offers an Eternal legacy of keeping transparency in all matters involving financial transactions of the public office.

The latest declaration of assets by PMIK’s cabinet is a testimony to how he sees himself as a leader of change trying to establish a culture of accountability. The true essence of leadership emerges when a leader holds himself accountable before he holds others accountable for all that he expects from his ministers. Prime Minister Imran Khan has held his feet to the fire and posed himself as a leader who has nothing to hide and has given his sweat, blood and toil to the country and helped restore the country’s international reputation as a global player in all fields of life.

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What is most noteworthy is the ease with which the international community responds to him and engages with him because there is ample trust in his. His emergency cash program, his ability to engage with the youth and his management of local and international media has created a system of politics which will groom leaders of the future around the values of meritocracy, transparency, and fair play. He has helped women become leaders and has encouraged and supported them in every way possible. He has been there for the students, the media, the politicians but above all he has been there for the poor.

Carlyle has written extensively on several leaders and influencers such as Odin, Muhammad (PBUH), Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon, William Shakespeare, Dante, Samuel Johnson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robert Burns, John Knox, and Martin Luther and had he been alive he would not have hesitated to write about Prime Minister Imran Khan while formulating what he called “The Great Man Theory”.

Applying The Great Man Theory to Prime Minister Imran Khan 

The theory claims these great leaders as heroes that were able to rise against the odds to defeat rivals, while inspiring followers along the way. Theorists say that these leaders were then born with a specific set of traits and attributes that make them ideal candidates for leadership and roles of authority and power. This theory relies then heavily on born rather than made, nature rather than nurture and cultivates the idea that those in power deserve to lead and shouldn’t be questioned because they have the unique traits that make them suited for the position.

Prime Minister Imran Khan offers those inborn traits which are relevant to the development of a leadership legacy that can help the future generation of Pakistan especially establishing a leadership vacuum that has existed for so many years. Carlyle had a sympathy for all manifestation of religious earnestness, a tolerance which was exceptional in an age divided between enlightenment, dispassionateness and partisan orthodoxy.

Some of the wanderings of Carlyle’s logic were forgiven by his contemporaries because he preached a new religion of revelation an amorphous thought to include tolerance. He offered an archetype for ideal leadership which is what true heroism is all about and what the Prime Minister has been trying to exhibit since long in what the Prophet (PBUH) had offered.

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Carlyle states, “We saw that Muhammed (PBUH) remained steadfast upon his principles, with firm determination; kind and generous, compassionate, pious, virtuous, with real manhood, hardworking and sincere. Besides all these qualities, he was lenient with others, tolerant, kind, cheerful and praiseworthy and perhaps he would joke and tease his companions. He was just, truthful, smart, pure, magnanimous and present-minded; his face was radiant as if he had lights within him to illuminate the darkest of nights; he was a great man by nature who was not educated in a school nor nurtured by a teacher as he was not in need of any of this.” – Heroes and Hero-worship by Thomas Carlyle.

In a similar vein had Carlyle to comment on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s leadership I am sure he would have seen him create a change that is to create an impact on its youth especially which it lacks the most that is heroism and leadership.

Mahvesh Mahmud is an Assistant Professor in Lahore and a former Shell-Chevening-DFID-Noon Foundation (2007-2008) scholar to the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge UK where she was awarded the Lucy Cavendish College’s Kate Bertram Prize for distinction in Management Studies, specifically in the areas of Innovation, Strategy and Organizations. She also has an MBA from NUST Business School, Islamabad. She can be contacted at mmcambridge@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.


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