• Difficult innings for ‘Kaptan sahib’
• Imran is in no position to formulate policy towards India
By JK Verma
New Delhi. 18 August 2018. Imran Khan Chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who is also known as, ‘Taliban Khan’ because of his leanings towards terrorists and extremists, took oath of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. His party PTI emerged as single largest party, in National Assembly by winning 116 seats in the elections held on 25 July, with overt and covert assistance of Deep State. After swearing in ceremony he assured that there will be ‘strict accountability’ and the plundered wealth of the country will be retrieved.
On 17 August, in an election for top post, Imran Khan defeated Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) by securing 176 votes in the 342 members National Assembly. Shahbaz Sharif could secure only 96 votes. The election for the Prime Ministership became a formality when Bilawal Bhutto, Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which has 54 seats in National Assembly, decided that PPP will not participate in the elections. Analysts claim, that Pakistan court has already issued non-bailable warrant against Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of PPP and father of Bilawal Bhutto in a money-laundering case, just to force PPP to accept the dictates of Deep State.
As expected, Khan was supported by few smaller parties including Muttahida Quami Movement, Pakistan Muslim League, Grand Democratic Alliance, Balochistan Awami Party, Balochistan National Party, Awami Muslim League and Jamori Watan Party.
Khan always gave pro-terrorist statements. In 2012 when extremists attacked Malala Yousafzai, he declined to condemn the attackers. In 2013 when Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Commander Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud were killed in Drone attacks, Imran criticised Drone attacks and mentioned that they were peaceful persons. He also pleaded for opening of Taliban offices in different cities of Pakistan. Taliban also had full faith in Imran Khan and they also proposed his name to represent them in conciliation talks. He supports the state funding to Madrassas and in 2018, PTI granted Rs. 550 million to Madrassas, run by Sami-ul-Haq ‘Father of Taliban’. Khan’s love for Islam and Shariat is well known and as he was supported by Mullas, militants and military hence his internal as well as external policies will be governed by these three anti-India elements. Followers of Khan may claim that it is the vicious misinformation campaign launched by his critics on behest of India and United States, but it is difficult to refute the hard facts.
Imran Khan remained close to Deep State from last several years. Fatima Bhutto granddaughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, wrote an article captioned as “Imran Khan is only a player in the circus run by Pakistan’s military” in ‘The Guardian’ of 24 July, 2018. In the article besides other things she also explained the closeness of Khan with the Pakistan military.
In 2014 on dictates of Pakistan army, Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) organised an “Azadi March” in Islamabad from August 14 to December 17, in which more than 60000 persons participated. Both Khan and Kadri alleged that 2013 general elections were rigged and demanded the resignation of elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The demand was ridiculous as Nawaz’s PML (N) had 190 seats in National Assembly of 342 members.
In Islamabad demonstrators cannot reach without tacit assistance of the administration. Besides the allegation of rigging in the general elections, the protesters also raised other issues like diminishing economic condition, rising terrorism, poor infrastructure just to name a few. However once the all powerful army realised that the image of Nawaz Sharif lowered and he was weakened, Khan and Qadri were instructed to withdraw the agitation, which they complied. The aim of General Raheel Sharif, the then Chief of Pakistan army was to subdue Nawaz Sharif who wanted to dictate terms to army.
Later army with the active assistance of judiciary not only dethroned Nawaz but debarred him and his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections and also imprisoned both of them. The analysts claim that the popularity of Sharif was not diminished much, and if he and his daughter would have been allowed to campaign freely in elections, PML (N) would have emerged single largest party in National Assembly elections as well as in Punjab province.
The Deep State deputed 370,000 security personnel all over Pakistan to conduct the ‘free & fair’ elections. The threatening presence of such large number of security personnel, even inside the polling booths, was enough to frighten the masses. The voters were also given the impression that security forces would know to whom they had given the votes. Several PML (N) leaders/workers were forced to leave the party and join PTI. The hardcore PML (N) personnel who refused to toe government line were imprisoned, under fabricated charges.
The Deep State has also forced press, primarily electronic media to defame PML (N) leaders and eulogise Imran Khan and his party. Nawaz Sharif was painted as pro-India and several false and fictitious allegations were put up against him and his party.
The statement of Khan that he wants to have friendly relations with Pakistan’s eastern and western neighbour is nothing but a diplomatic rhetoric. The PTI manifesto reiterates to resolve “Kashmir issue within the parameters of the UNSC resolutions.” The UNSC resolution is out-of-date and impractical and Pakistan itself failed to obey its foremost condition that all Pakistani troops must be withdrawn from Kashmir before plebiscite. Hence emphasizing to resolve Kashmir issue within ambit of UN Resolution clearly indicates that Khan is obeying dictates of Pakistan army and wants to prolong hostilities with India under the garb of Kashmir problem. Prime Minister Khan also made no mention about tightening of diverse terrorist outfits which are sponsored by sinister Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and carrying out terrorist activities in India, especially in Kashmir. In election campaign also Khan criticised Sharif as ‘friend of Modi’ and termed him as traitor.
Although Prime Minister Khan may like to be active on foreign policy as the manifesto of PTI mentions about establishment of a separate cell to deal foreign policy in Prime Minister’s office but powerful army will never allow Khan to deal independently with India, Afghanistan and other important countries. In past when Prime Minister Sharif wanted to be friendly with India, General Sharif cut him to size. Pakistan army projects itself as the saviour of Pakistan and its ideology, which is based on Islam and is drastically anti-India.
However in the current elections Jihadists, including international terrorist Hafiz Saeed’s candidates were defeated badly. His party could not win a single seat and even his son and son-in-law, also lost elections. The vote share of extremists has reduced and they secured less than two percent votes, although they spoke much against India. In this way the silent majority of Pakistan gave a signal to Khan that he can negotiate with India. Khan has good relations with both extremists and the Deep State, hence initially he may be allowed to start negotiations with India but the talks will be according to the agenda of Deep State and with ulterior motive to prolong discussion overtly and continue assisting terrorists covertly.
The generals and politicians alike assured Pakistanis that Kashmir is an integral part of the country and it will be annexed in Pakistan. Unfortunately the illiterate masses trusted them hence there can be no agreement with India without settling Kashmir issue and complex Kashmir issue cannot be resolved through negotiations.
Khan has no experience of administration, even as member of National Assembly he was not very regular there. Hence his dependence on military and bureaucracy will be much more than his predecessors. Khan should enhance trade between both the countries and Kashmir issue should be kept in back-burner but the traders lobby which has support of Deep State will never allow widespread trade with India as it will expose that Pakistan is far behind its eastern neighbour. Although India gave Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan in 1996 but the latter has not reciprocated so far, may be because of pressure of traders or may be because of Chinese influence.
In Pakistan, Prime Ministers come and go without completing their tenures, and during their rule, army controlled ISI continues assisting terrorist outfits active in India. However Khan became Prime Minister with the active backing of Mullah, militant and military, hence now ISI has support of both military as well as of civilian government, therefore its assistance to secessionist elements have already enhanced.
The ISI has enhanced the infiltration of terrorists after it was declared that Khan will be the prime minister of Pakistan. ISI has also supported a pro-Khalistan outfit Sikh for Justice (SFJ) to organise ‘London Declaration on Referendum 2020 for Sikhs’ at London on August 12, 2018. Besides SFJ, ISI also assists Sikhs in Pakistan as well as abroad to raise Khalistan issue. There are reports that ISI supporters are contacting terrorists in Bangladesh especially Rohingya Muslims who are already radicalized to carryout terrorist activities in India mainly in Kashmir.
Unfortunately several pro-Pakistan apologists in India plead that India should negotiate with Pakistan and these talks may conclude in some agreement. However Pakistan watchers are of the view that Khan has no authority to settle an agreement with India and it will be a sheer waste of time.
Khan has a razor thin majority in National Assembly and became prime minister because of assistance rendered by the troika of military, militant and Mullah hence he is in no position to make any sincere effort to negotiate with India. In India also, the general elections are just few months away hence ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would also not make any earnest effort to negotiate.
(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and a retired senior intelligence officer. He is also member of United Services Institute of India and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)