Should Imran Khan be demonized?

Pakistani Prime Ministers, Presidents or Army commanders who usurped political power through a military coup, one and all, have been on the list of our adversaries. As such it has become our culture to demonise them. But there are strong reasons for our estrangement and these can be looked up in history. The very basis on which Pakistan was created is the antithesis of rational and humanistic criteria of coexistence among people of different faith, culture and languages. Pakistan was created on the principle of exclusiveness. Iqbal said that Musalman is a different creation, different from all other human creations. But he could not give a cogent argument to convince us in what respect a Musalman was god’s different creation. Just to say that Islam is god’s choicest religion and that Musalmans are born or created by Allah to dominate all existing religions and rule the world is hardly a convincing argument. At least for the last so many centuries the colonial powers of the West have been ruling almost all the five continents of the globe.

The crux of the Indian freedom movement was that the Muslims of India opposed the freedom from the British colonial yoke unless a separate state for the Muslims of India was carved from Indian territory. Ultimately, with the connivance of the British colonialists, they managed to trifurcate India into India, Pakistan and later on Bangladesh. In recent years, Kashmiri Muslims surrendering to the Pakistani proxies have extirpated the small Hindu community from their homeland and Islamised the Kashmir Valley. Short of declaring it a Muslim State (within the secular Indian Union), it is an Islamic State for all intents. Kerala is fully under the sway of Islamists and in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee is fulfilling the agenda that Nehru had set forth for corroding India’s secular denomination.

These are hard facts. Some nationalists will not be happy to put them as a record. But unless we accept the ground reality we will not be able to come to the roots of the problem. Many commentators have criticised India for not agreeing to talk to the military Generals of Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. After all the world knows that the real power in Pakistan rests with the Army and Kashmir and foreign affairs are handled by the Pakistan Army alone. If that reality is understood by India then why does she dither from talking to the Pakistan Army? Have not the democracies in other countries of the world been talking to autocrats or autocratic regimes?

When Mehbooba Mufti and  Farooq Abdullah, the ex-Chief Ministers of Kashmir implore India to talk to Pakistan — considering her a stakeholder —- they mean that the Indian leadership should talk to Pakistan Army. We do not know whether Indian authorities understand that or go by the advice of the intelligence sleuths which is misleading in most cases owing to their lack of understanding of the Kashmir psyche. India’s top decision-making circles are, therefore, convinced that as long as the Pakistan Army remains in control of the Kashmir issue, there will be no solution to the tangle. The interest of the Pakistan Army lies in the simmering Kashmir conflict. If this is the steel-frame conclusion drawn by the Indian policy planners, then we need to remind them that for the first time an opportunity has surfaced in which the masses of people have started challenging the Pakistan Army’s hegemonic behaviour and its greed to outstrip it’s legal jurisdiction.

Imran Khan Niyazi deserves kudos for awakening his people against the hegemony and authoritarian disposition of the Pakistan Army. He is performing a great role in delivering his nation from the yoke of authoritarianism of the Pakistan Army. India may not directly interfere in the internal matters of Pakistan but on a moral and humanitarian basis what ensures peace and tranquillity in the subcontinent should be forcefully supported. It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a massive public cry has been raised against the hegemony of its Army and it is for the first time that the large masses of Pakistan have come out on the streets to decry American interference in the internal matters of Pakistan. American repudiation of Imran Khan’s allegations is weak knowing the entire gamut of US-Pak relations ever since the creation of Pakistan. A wide section of thinkers in Pakistan asks the question what benefit did Pakistan derive by joining the American initiated military pacts like Baghdad Pact, CENTO or SEATO ?

In the course of the unusual political and legal fracas in Pakistan ending up in the ouster of Imran Khan, the Pakistan Army got not only exposed but even humiliated. Misbehaving with the elected Prime Minister, challenging his authority and powers and finally playing a subtle role in the overthrow of a duly elected government has convinced Pakistan and the world that as long as the army holds sway over the domestic and foreign policy of Pakistan, this nation cannot find its way out of the morass. The division within the Pak army is no more a secret. The officers of the younger generation are receiving revulsive stories of how the senior officers have looted the country’s treasury and have built a luxurious life for themselves and their progeny in the US.

Only a few days back Pakistan Army ordered the bombardment of certain locales in the provinces of Kunar and Khost saying the TTP had assembled there. If that is true and Pakistan finds justification in the airstrikes, then India’s action in Balakot is equally justified. Afghan Taliban have resorted to gunfights when Pakistan Rangers tried to set up barbed wire to demarcate the Durand border with Afghanistan. Kabul regime issued a stern warning that it never accepted the Durand Line and would never allow artificial division of Pashtuns as Pakistan wished. We can predict with confidence that the Durand Line issue is going to become a huge flashpoint between the Taliban and Islamabad. These are all symptoms of the Pakistan Army losing its grip on the internal and external affairs of Pakistan and political parties eyeing the ultimate return of the Pak Army units to their barracks to run their unending mutual dissensions.

The U.S will change its policy and perception of Pakistan once it understands how fragile the Army’s position has become. The Baloch nationalist forces have declared installation of their government.

In the final analysis, Imran Khan has embarked on playing a historic role in Pakistan. The only power that can decimate Pakistan Army’s hegemony and domination in Pakistan is the power of the masses. Fortunately, the quirk of destiny has, at long last, instilled the masses of people with a sense of pride and the will to live the life of a free, independent and honourable people and shape their destiny with their hands. This is a moment for India to play a constructive role in helping the people of Pakistan stabilise democracy and restrain the Pak Army from playing a spoiler. But we know that India has rarely shown the guts to play a decisive role at a crucial turn of history. Tragically, she has stuck to the cheap trickery taught by demagogues and not to the bravery taught by warriors like King Lalitaditya, Rana Pratap, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. The deposed Prime Minister of Pakistan has far larger gatherings to address and lead than what was the position while he was in power. It is for the people of Pakistan to decide whether they should demonize Imran Khan or lionize him as the hero of the modern history of Pakistan.

Prof. K.N. Pandita
Prof. K.N. Pandita
Prof. K.N. Pandita is the former Director of the Centre for Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir. Prof. Pandita was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India for his contribution in the field of literature and education.

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