Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan
Prime Minister Imran Khan has floated an idea for Islamic alliance among Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey to combat growing Islamophobia in order to get the reprieve from his domestic failure and legitimise his rule and relations with Army for the sake of Islam like General Zia did in Pakistan
Dr Vivek Kumar Mishra
Prime Minister Imran Khan during his address at the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York stated that “Islamophobia created a division.” Imran Khan projected himself as a global defender of Islam. Not surprisingly, he devoted much of his address to attacking India for its decision to amend Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
The campaign against Islamophobia started on March 22, 2019, when Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) executive committee ministerial meeting was held in Istanbul. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the causes; impact and way forward in the aftermath of the New Zealand terror attacks in which two mosques were targeted in Christchurch that resulted in the death of 50 Muslims, including nine Pakistanis. The meeting was headed by Foreign Minister of Turkey Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu. In his address Mr. Mevlut emphasised the need to unite against Islamophobia and to develop effective strategies against it. In the meeting, Foreign Ministers of 20 countries participated alongside representatives from international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union. Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi represented Pakistan. Mr. Qureshi stated that in the meeting four out of six proposals were put forth by Pakistan. These proposals includes, “that the scope and definition of terrorism should be broadened. And the imposition of sanctions should not be limited to entities such as Al Qaeda, Daesh, etc—though those are important in their own right—but those elements which reek of Islamophobia should also be included in the list of those sanctioned”. Pakistan proposed a special session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to be held on the topic of Islamophobia. Pakistan put forth that the OIC Secretary General should play a role in the removal of content on social media that is linked to Islamophobia. It is proposed that “a special rapporteur be appointed who monitors Islamophobia and presents recommendations on how to counter it”.
The next step in the campaign against Islamophobia is a Joint statement signed on March 23, 2019, during the official visit of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia to Pakistan. They have stated that “as two peace-loving Islamic nations”, both leaders have agreed to increase their collaborative efforts to uphold the true values of Islam and reaffirm their commitments to collaborate more closely on issues affecting the Muslim world. Both stressed that terrorism cannot be associated with any religion or belief. “The feeling of hatred is generated by the media and we need to find ways to win over the hearts and minds of people to combat Islamophobia,” said Mahathir. Mahathir added that, “We must work to improve the perception of Muslims in the world.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan has tried to materialise this campaign while speaking at the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on September 27, 2019. He said, “There are 1.3 billion Muslims in this world. Millions of Muslims are living in the US and European countries as minorities. Islamophobia, since 9/11 has grown at an alarming pace. Human communities are supposed to live together with understanding among each other but Islamophobia is creating a division.” He said, “Muslim women wearing hijabs has become an issue in some countries as if a hijab is some kind of weapon. This is happening because of Islamophobia.” He stated that “after 9/11 attack, Islamophobia grew at a rapid pace. Why did it start? Because certain Western leaders equated terrorism with Islam, calling it Islamic terrorism and radical Islam.” Prime Minister also called for promoting greater understanding and tolerance among and between communities across the world.
Another development took place outside of UNGA meeting, Pakistan and Turkey co-hosted a round table discussion on Islamophobia. Imran Khan along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressed the conference. Imran Khan in his address said, “The world must understand Muslim sensitivities for Islam and reverence for Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). He underlined the need for effective measures to be put in place so that hate speech, especially one which stems from Islamophobia, can be countered. President Erdogan said that hate speech “emerges before worst crimes against humanity” and observed that Muslims remain the most vulnerable community to hate speech in the world.”
On the sidelines of the UNGA, Prime Minister Imran Khan after his meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the decision that they have decided to jointly launch an English language TV channel for confronting Islamophobia and removing “misperceptions” about Islam. According to Imran Khan, “the channel will correct misperceptions about Islam, and produce a series of films on Muslims to educate and inform the world on the richness of Islamic history.” These are some important developments that took place in the campaign against Islamophobia.
The Chinese government has banned Islamic names, including Muhammad, as well as “abnormal” beards and veils in public for women. Uighur Muslims face punishment for fasting during Ramadan. According to UN experts, China is holding one million people, particularly Uighur Muslims, in detention centres
Imran Khan’s Failure in Domestic Front
Prime Minister Imran Khan became Prime Minister of Pakistan on August 18, 2018. Even after completing one year in office, he failed to fulfill his commitments which he made during his election campaign to the people of Pakistan. He promised that he would create a “New Pakistan” based on corruption-free rule, and it would be like the state of Medina that the Prophet Muhammad founded—a welfare state. On the contrary, he used vendetta politics by putting the major opposition party leaders behind bars including former Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff. Imran Khan once talked about “dignity” but what kind of dignity he is talking when he started begging from the IMF, Saudi Arabia and America. His first move after taking office of Prime Minister was meeting to Prince of Saudi Arabia in the hope of getting economic assistance. He declared in the past that he would rather die than go with a begging bowl to the IMF, but soon after assuming office of Prime Minister he went to the IMF and after protracted negotiations got a loan of $6 billion. The IMF approved $6 billion loan on July 3, 2019, over a period of three years.
Prime Minister Khan is surrounded by most of the politicians he once rallied against. Most of the members of his cabinet are from his predecessors General Pervez Musharraf and President Asif Ali Zardari regime. He has appointed a member of National Development Council to the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa—to accelerate economic growth and improve coordination among the provinces and the federation on June 19, 2019. The Council is headed by Prime Minister and has been given the responsibility of making major economic decisions. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half the time since its Independence has been taking a more active role in economic affairs. The military already control security and foreign policy, and now it will also control economic affairs of Pakistan.
Pakistan had succeeded in propagating its foreign policy objectives through Jihadi elements against India by sponsoring terrorism as an effective instrument of foreign policy. Before surgical strikes by India, Pakistan was engaged in proxy war against India with the perception that if India responds, it will lead to nuclear war. However, India’s retaliation in the form of surgical strike to the terrorist attacks in Uri and Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir has shifted the strategic paradigm: there can be limited engagement in retaliation for terrorism, without tripping the nuclear war. In continuation of Indian strategy against Pakistan, India has scrapped the special status of the Jammu & Kashmir.
In the changing environment, Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan is facing huge economic crunch. Also diplomatically, it is isolated from the world because of its being the epicentre of global terrorism. Prime Minister Imran Khan—under the tutelage of Pakistan Army—could do nothing in the aftermath of Modi Government decision to Amend Article 370. The Pakistan Army, and its political offspring, Imran Khan, lost face at home and abroad. It is proven fact that the Pakistan army is neither capable of nor willing to fight a conventional war against India because of last four bitter experiences. It has neither won a foreign war, nor intends to fight one now.
Imran Khan once talked about “dignity” but what kind of dignity he is talking when he started begging from the IMF, Saudi Arabia and America. His first move after taking office of Prime Minister was meeting to Prince of Saudi Arabia in the hope of getting economic assistance
After amendment of Article 370, Imran Khan has tried to utilise UNGA as a platform to put pressure on India by nuclear threat advantage—where it can blackmail the world into tolerating its sponsored Jihadist and proxy warfare against India. Pakistan, by being a nuclear weapons state, has adopted a strategy of threating the international community to use nuclear weapons against India.
What about Islamophobia against Islamic abuses in Pakistan
Imran Khan has propagated his concern about Islamophobia in the West at the UNGA but he is mum on the sectarianism in Pakistan, where the Shia Muslims are killed by Sunnis and the Ahmadis are ostracised out of the government of Imran Khan. Ahmadiya community is facing severe persecution and they are fleeing in large number to Nepal because they are not allowed to read the Quran, perform namaz or call azaan. Imran Khan Government backed anti-blasphemy laws that includes death penalty and a discriminatory oath which specifically targeted the Ahmadi Muslims. Saleem-ud-Din, spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan, recently said that “about 400 Ahmadis had been killed since the introduction of the anti-Ahmadiyya laws. Shias and Ahmadis have sustained scores of casualties at the hands of Pakistan Taliban and active jihadi groups in Pakistan.
Imran Khan seeks to project himself as a global defender of Islam by his Islamophobia campaign but he won’t utter a peep about one of the most conspicuous persecutions of Muslims: China’s repression of Xinjiang’s Uighurs. In Xinjiang province, China has diluted the Muslim majority by shipping in millions of Han Chinese migrants. The Chinese government has banned Islamic names, including Muhammad, as well as “abnormal” beards and veils in public for women. Uighur Muslims face punishment for fasting during Ramadan. According to UN experts, China is holding one million people, particularly Uighur Muslims, in detention centres. However, China describes them as “re-education camps” aiming to “stamp out ‘extremism’ and give them new skills”. Pakistan, under Khan’s leadership, signed a letter to the UN Human Rights Council defending China’s detention of Uighur Muslims.
In Gilgit-Baltistan region, which is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan, has paid a heavy price. The demography of the region has been changed completely and it is reported that the old population ratio of 1:4 (non-locals to locals) has now changed to 3:4 (non-locals to locals). This demographic change has ruined the peace and order in the region by Sunni Pakistanis. It is estimated that more than thousands of lives have been lost because of the sectarian violence in the region. Pakistan’s policy is intrinsically divisive and relies on the sectarian card to serve its vested interests in Gilgit and Baltistan. There is gross violation of Human Rights in Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
Islamophobia and Amendment of Article 370
Pakistan has somehow managed to get the support of Malaysia and Turkey on Kashmir at the UNGA with the help of campaign against Islamophobia. Malaysia and Turkey are the only two countries that have so far spoken in favour of Pakistan after India amend Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The facts are—the state of Jammu & Kashmir signed the same Instrument of Accession as was done by other princely states; Pakistan invaded and illegally occupied parts of Jammu and Kashmir, that is called Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK), a fact which has been recognised by the international community; and Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh is a purely internal matter of India and does not involve any third party. Indian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on February 22, 1994, that “the State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means; India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity; and demands that Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression; and resolves that—All attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely.” It is to be noted that Article 370 was temporary and needed to be deactivated to integrate and bring development to the state. India will deal with Pakistan “bilaterally” when Pakistan sponsored terrorism comes down.
Pakistan is placing recent developments in the state of Jammu & Kashmir within a manufactured context of “Islamophobia” campaign but the real issue in Jammu & Kashmir is Pakistan sponsored terrorism
Pakistan is placing recent developments in the state of Jammu & Kashmir within a manufactured context of “Islamophobia” campaign but the real issue in Jammu & Kashmir is Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Prime Minister Imran Khan has floated an idea for Islamic alliance among Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey to combat growing Islamophobia in order to get reprieve from his domestic failure and to legitimise his rule and relations with Army for the sake of Islam like General Zia did in Pakistan.
(The writer is Assistant Professor and Head of the Department, Political Science and International Relations, Gautam Buddha University, Uttar Pradesh)