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You Cannot Hide from Allah
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You Cannot Hide from Allah
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Life on the Edge: The Prince

Mr. Ihsan Khan was a taxi cab driver in Washington DC for over 20 years. Then he won a fortune in a lottery and decided to return to his hometown in Pakistan to run for mayor. Naturally, he won—but soon after a massive earthquake devasted the region. This film tells his story, and asks: what is the relation between money and politics in a democracy? 

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Produced by the Why Democracy? project.

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Segment 1

TITLE
You Cannot Hide From Allah
TITLE
Northwest Frontier Provinces, Pakistan
TITLE
Batagram, Population 180,000
VOICE 1
What would you do if you won the lottery?
VOICE 2
I don't believe in lotteries, they are forbidden by Islam.
VOICE 3
What if you had so much money you couldn't count it?
SOLDIER
No one would ever give me that much money.
VOICE 4
But someone won the lottery here.
MAN 1
Say you would spend a night with a girl.
BOY 1
I don't know. I would marry a beautiful girl and buy a car.
MAN 2
I would spend the money in the way of Allah, And in the way of our religion. I would spend on the poor for the happiness of God.
TITLE
And then someone from Batagram really did win the lottery …
TITLE
In 2001, Mr. Ihsan Khan, then a taxi driver in Washington DC, won USD$54.5 million in a lottery.
IHSAN KHAN
That was beautiful. I mean, that's a lot of money, right? No, I didn't like driving a taxi, but I couldn't work with USD$2,000 a month. And then it was getting harder and harder, so thank God I didn't get a heart attack. I was worried much about my son and his education, and my children. I'm not worried about, probably ... and they don't have to worry for maybe another century now.
TITLE
Four years after his lottery win, Mr. Khan returned to Batagram to run for Mayor.
IHSAN KHAN
That's the hut house from where I was born. I think maybe a miracle or something that ... it was meant to be that I came here and I am trying to help and I don't want to gain anything from what I do and I don't need any recognition but ... something I had to pitch in back to this society. I am and I was obligated to. So then I could not do anything, and now I am capable to do.
TITLE
The Batagram mayoral election was held on October 21, 2005.
TITLE
Mr. Khan won an overwhelming majority.
TITLE
Two days later, a massive earthquake hit Northern Pakistan.
TITLE
Of the 65,000 killed, more than 5,000 were from Batagram.
IHSAN KHAN
I think it's carried and done by God and I think it is for us to understand that we have some shortcomings and we gotta rectify our wrongs, and do good.
MAN 3
After the earthquake, the mayor pledged 20 million rupees for Batagram. We think he is a blessing from God because he has given so much to Batagram. The wheelchairs are his gift for the local hospital patients.
IHSAN KHAN
I also pledge more funds for the child MRI imaging machine. Why have you come here?
BOY 2
No reason. No reason.
MAN 4
You should have said something.
TITLE
Temporary City Hall.
MAN 5
I told the local councilor I am building a mosque. He offered me cheap tin sheeting which I don't need. I said, you should give me steel and cement. He said he is poor. I said, may God make you poorer.
IHSAN KHAN
I will help you tomorrow, okay?
MAN 5
Will you give me a receipt for it? So, if I happen to die, there will be a record of your promise.
MAN 6
Why don't you go to Thailand and marry instead of worrying about this mosque?
MAN 5
Get me a visa then.
MAN 6
I will get you a ticket. You won't have to worry about the mosque and will enjoy life.
MAN 5
You should have offered when I was young.
MAN 6
Come back for your money tomorrow. Okay?
MUNICIPAL SECRETARY
I admire the Mayor because he has no personal interests at stake. The Mayor has not accepted any salary nor government vehicle or any other government benefits.
MAN 5
The old feudal landlords would have never given the money. The Mayor just says, come for it tomorrow. There used to be no political system here. It was a tribal area. The feudal landlords had power, we had nothing.
MAN 7
The feudal landlords joined with the police to break the law. The people were forced to pay them off.
IHSAN KHAN
Ninety percent of the rich people in this country are still corrupt. What have the rich ever done for the poor? The only fault of the poor is their lack of education. The rich put the law in their hands but go unpunished. They should die of shame. They are toying with the future of our nation.
MAN 8
If God brought more honest people like you, the country could progress. If all minds were like yours, we could go forward.
IHSAN KHAN
We cannot lie.
MAN 9
After the earthquake, people became more corrupt. Everyone started to run to an organization to get relief. Good people turned bad. The word "relief check" is on everyone's lips.
IHSAN KHAN
What is the matter?
MAN 10
I am disabled and need money. No one cares for the poor.
IHSAN KHAN
This is not a bank.
MAN 10
Maybe someone could help me.
IHSAN KHAN
Everyone comes with troubles: cancer, medical, for the mosque.
MAN 10
It's not for the mosque, it's for me.
IHSAN KHAN
Come to my home later, I'll help you.
IHSAN KHAN
Show him in.
MAN 5
So I told them you'd pay for the mosque reconstruction. People are asking about the money.
IHSAN KHAN
I will try to find the money for you somewhere.
MAN 5
Yesterday you said you'd pay, now you're only looking. You cannot hide from Allah.
MAN 11
The mayor has a lot of money and likes to talk. But he actually does very little. Look at the main road. It is still not paved.
IHSAN KHAN
If Batagram looks beautiful, I look beautiful. The state won't release the development budget of 40 million rupees. For two years now. Those corrupt ministers cannot keep this money. I have learned two lessons from 24 years in America: Speak the truth and work hard.
MAN 12
Everyone knows how the mayor got elected. The council members also know how he got there. It is common knowledge he bought their vote.
MAN 13
They brought someone from America with money to run for the seat. A dollar lottery winner. And so the voice of democracy was diminished by money.
IHSAN KHAN
People talk and say a lot of things. I know my duties, and I perform them. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I can't run from my own village.
MAN 5
Tell it to me straight: will you help? The walls are done. The mosque just needs a roof.
IHSAN KHAN
Everyone says they're building a mosque, but it's just talk.
MAN 5
No, we are building a mosque. These are just nasty rumors.
IHSAN KHAN
I'll call someone to give you the steel. If I told you of all the charity I do, God will not accept it.
MAN 5
With this mayor, you just have to grab him by the shoulder and tell him your need. He does it eventually. I am happy with the mayor.
TITLE
For his public service, Mayor Ihsan Khan was named one of TIME Magazine's Persons of the Year 2006.
TITLE
[end credits]