With Imran Khan’s swearing-in as Pakistan PM, the tripartite coalition of Military- Mullah- Militants has grown mighty. Mr Khan’s political past and present offer no signs for any course-correction
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sympathies towards the Taliban were made evident on several occasions in his twenty-one-year-old political career. In June 2002, he addressed a workers’ convention in Pakistan stating that he was inspired by the Taliban system of justice and that he would establish the same system in the country after assuming power.
(File Photo) Bull's Eye- Imran Khan has succesffully forged an alliance with Military-Mullah-Militants
In 2012 after the Taliban shot 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai in the head, Khan refused to condemn them by name. Later, in 2013 he stirred up controversy when he described a top Taliban leader, Wali ur-Rehman as ‘pro-peace’. During a 2014 Pakistani government effort to build a national consensus on a statement declaring the Taliban an enemy of Pakistan and Islam, Khan called the group, “our brothers” and “our people”. He is an advocate of state funding of Madarsas run by Taliban. He also supports allowing Taliban to open offices in the various cities in Pakistan. His photograph dressed as a Mujahid and sitting with Taliban cadre is very popular among the youth of Pakistan.
In 2012, when Khan pulled out of the India Today Conclave on account of it being attended by writer Salman Rushdie, he was severely criticised by the latter who compared him to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. “Here he is trying to placate Mullah and placate Army while presenting himself as the acceptable face of Pakistan,” said Rushdie.
Politics of Denial
Imran Khan, of course, has denied all allegations of being backed by the military. Regardless of what he says the army’s influence in this year’s elections has been the main cause of his rise and fulfilment of his Prime Ministerial ambition. Gen Asif Ghafoor, the army’s spokesperson, has tweeted: “You honour who you will and you humble who you will”, a verse from the Qur’an that is taken as confirmation of the military’s support for Khan. Thus, the real power in deciding Pakistan's relationships with Bharat, Afghanistan and USA will continue to stay in the hands of generals.
Mr Khan’s love for Islam and Sharia Law is well documented in his memoir. In his memoir, Pakistan: A personal history, Khan wrote that the biggest damage done to the Indian sub-continent was the loss of self-esteem that resulted from colonisation. He wrote, “The inferiority complex that is ingrained in a conquered nation results in its imitation of some of the worst aspects of the conquerors, while at the same time neglecting its great traditions.” A free Pakistan, he believes, has to be rooted in the traditions of Islam.
Right in the beginning of his memoir, Khan made clear how an ideal Pakistani state should look like and what it had become. “Far from being the Islamic welfare state that was envisaged, Pakistan is a country where politics is a game of loot and plunder and any challenger to the status quo — even with my kind of public profile and popularity — can be suddenly arrested and threatened with violence,” wrote Khan in his book.
To garner a majority in the National Assembly, he had to take the support of dreaded Sunni militant outfits at the behest of the military. It will provide the radicals and extremists with the power to reshape Pakistan's political landscape. It is a new, but a dangerous trend in the political landscape of a country that is struggling to become a democracy. He certainly will be obliged to the military and militants who would prefer a radicalised theocratic Pakistan than a democratic Pakistan.
Inexperienced, yet Zealot
Khan has no administrative experience. As MNA, he hardly ever attended the National Assembly. He is known more for his rhetoric and ability to organise protests rather than administrative capabilities. He is more of a demagogue.
He will be ruled and guided by the powerful troika of Military- Mullah- Militants. He is talking about taking two steps forward even if India takes one. Will the troika allow him to take even half a step towards India, is a million dollar question.
The pity is that many pro-Pak apologists in our country are still hoping for better Indo-Pak relations. They are proposing a dialogue with Pakistan. It to me is mere vote-bank politics to address their core constituencies and furtherance of their appeasement policy rather than a serious discourse in the national interest.
The recent infiltration attempts and spurt in terrorist activities, as well as Deep State's open support to Pro- Khalistan movement through active support to US based Sikh separatist group “Sikh for Justice” in organising Referendum 2020 in London, should act as a grim reminder of Pakistan's intent to these Pro-Pak apologists. Pakistan's ISI is actively using the services of dreaded global terrorist Hafiz Saeed as part of ‘Operation Express’ to once again set Punjab on fire by kindling the Khalistan movement.
ISI is also planning to spread the tentacle of jihadi terror to the Eastern and North-Eastern states of India and Myanmar using Bangladesh as the base and launch pad. According to inputs of National Investigation Agency (NIA), Bangladesh based terror groups Jamat ul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansar ul Bangla Team (ABT) are planning recruitments in eastern parts of India, setting up hideouts and procuring weapons for terrorist activities. These groups are also making efforts to coordinate with radical Islamic groups within India to garner their support and widen the network.
As far as Kashmir is concerned, Imran Khan made his intent amply clear when he termed Kashmir as the core issue and blamed Indian Army for human right excesses in Kashmir. He did not consider it appropriate to mention other outstanding disputes between the two nations. The script of his victory speech had either been prepared or approved by the troika. The spokesman of PTI acknowledged the army’s role when he said that there was nothing wrong with the Pakistan Army “advising” the government on foreign policy issues. It would be a miracle if Imran went even a few inches beyond cosmetic “posturing” as far as Kashmir is concerned.
It is the true face of Pakistan under the firm control of the Mullah-Military-Militant troika. Prime Ministers may come and go; their tenure is not decided by any statute book but by the Army. But when you have a PM fully obliged to the troika, one can imagine the boost terrorism will get in Pakistan
(The author is a Jammu based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst)