Snowden and Imran: The Gambit and The Gadfly

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Edward Snowden would probably win worldwide if polls are held on the social media. Surveillance is an inconvenient invisible fly on every cellphone, notepad and laptop. But Imran Khan would miserably lose as his gripe doesn’t cross more than few geographical boundaries 10 degree north and south of the Tropic of Cancer

IRSHAD SALIM | Caravan Daily

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is a strain of similarity between Edward Snowden and Imran Khan – their gambit and the gadfly in them.

Snowden thought morally “necessary” to shine a light on mass surveillance in his society. Khan braved to fight injustice, mass corruption and absence of rule of law in his country.

While the former’s hilltop is the rich and the affluent in his society, the latter’s little pond is his Pakistan — a country where the poor can be seen on the streets but the rich hide in their elusive Gotham world.

Both are unapologetic whistleblowers. Digital disruptionists. In their intellectual pursuits though, they have hit highpoints, touched raw nerves and struck chords.

Snowden would probably win worldwide if polls are held on the social media. Surveillance is an inconvenient invisible fly on every cellphone, notepad and laptop. But Khan would miserably lose as his gripe doesn’t cross more than few geographical boundaries 10 degree north and south of the Tropic of Cancer.

Both are like Don Quixote of La Mancha, and seeking connectivity as war booty. Snowden did. Now he wants to loose it all by seeking pardon. Khan won and may be loosing it unwittingly. Many Cervantes surround him.

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Snowden’s Sancho Panza is his shadow, Khan’s is the absence of his Sancho Panza.

Former’s spear is the wikileaks, latters’ his ‘Naya Pakistan’. Both’s windmill is awesomely gigantic: the status quo.

And that’s the way it is — as Walter Cronkite would say.

Cronkite was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81). He was no Quixote nor a Cervantes. The American family trusted his broadcasts. His connectivity was real, telegraphic and soulful.

During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America” after being so named in an opinion poll. He reported many events from 1937 to 1981, including bombings in World War II; the Nuremberg trials; the Vietnam War; Watergate scandal; the Iran Hostage Crisis; the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr., and Beatles founder John Lennon. These were his “Wikileaks”.

Cronkite’s well known departing catchphrase “And that’s the way it is,” followed by the broadcast’s date remains relevant. Keeping to standards of objective journalism, or shall I say high moral grounds, he omitted this phrase on nights when he ended the newscast with opinion or commentary.

Khan has been saying “And that’s the way it is” to his supporters — the youth, the women, the apolitical ones, the marginalized, etc.

Cronkite walked into sunset. The American whistleblower wants to do the same. He has asked for a pardon from Obama.

Khan doesn’t need one. He wants to be a perennial whistleblower until he conquers the windmill — that charging army of social evils besetting his country.

Thanks to Snowden, leaks have produced a “new normal” worldwide.  Khan keeps attempting to cement the new normal he has created. He now wants to charge against the windmill again. The Sancho Panza is not there. The Cervantes are.

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