Imran Khan is a product of Western education and cricket, but neither has given him the Western sensibilities and ethos. ‘Taliban Khan’ remains deeply conservative and has spoken against modernism and feminism among Pakistani women….writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
The assessment of the Observers, domestic and foreign, that elections in Pakistan were ‘micromanaged’ by the military establishment to ensure the victory of Imran Khan and his party, provide every indication of hardening of Pakistan’s postures vis a vis India and the other adversary, Afghanistan.
In regional and global terms, Imran Khan did not hide his anti-American attitude towards the USA, which is the current Pakistani stance at it gets close to China, thanks to Chinese investment in CPEC. He told his interviewer: “I am not sure if Trump would want to meet me.” He went on to blame America in the war in Afghanistan and said that his Pakistan will not be ‘used’ by others.
This is not how India has looked at the war on terror and has built close security relationship with the US. Also, Pakistani militants like Hafiz Saeed have blamed India for US designating them as terrorists. Some Saeed supporters have won the election and will do everything to make Imran Khan toe their anti-India line.
Although much of the Indian media has called Khan “an untested commodity” there is little doubt that his sympathies have always been with the militant and the Taliban who view India as their biggest adversary.
In his interviews to BBC, Al Jazeera and others as the poll date came close and he was seen as the likely winner, Imran Khan had said that he would like to have “good relations” with India, hastening to add that he would like “good relations with all.”
He expectedly dwelt on the Kashmir issue and called for its ‘resolution’ and blamed the current India-Pakistan relations on the attitude of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.
He indicated that India-Pakistan relations would languish with Modi around.
Interestingly, in his interviews, he blamed his principal rival, jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on just every issue, he refrained from commenting the Sharif-Modi meetings, including Modi’s surprise visit to the Sharif home and the good vibes that it had temporarily created. He was quick to blame Sharif when things went sour a few days later and his sympathies lay with those who had staged the two successive terror attacks.
Khan is a product of Western education and cricket that has given him name and fame, but neither has given him the Western sensibilities and ethos. He remains deeply conservative and has spoken against modernism and feminism among Pakistani women. Not from Pakistan’s feudal and/or intellectual class, Imran Khan, despite his marriage to a Christian-Jew in the past and his now-publicised picadillos with women all over the world, including India, does not want women in his own country to be modern.
The election of several who won on MMA ticket and militants-supported candidates even in his own party should prevent any effort by Imran Khan to show the olive branch to India.
It needs reminding that Khan’s mentor soon after he retired from cricket and entered politics was late Lt. Gneral Hamid Gul, the former ISI chief. Imran is supposed to have imbibed both, his worldview and sympathies for the militants from Gul, a known anti-India man.
So pronounced have been Khan’s inclinations in the past, expressed openly from time to time that former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, whom he had supported when he former had staged coup, but later turned a critic, would famously call him “Taliban Khan.”
Despite this, Musharraf, his own political ambitions thwarted, declared his support to Imran Khan. Apparently, he was prevented from returning from exile and contest election because the military establishment that he once headed, had its plans cut out in total support of Imran Khan.
Also supporting Imran Khan’s election are known militant leaders like Maulana Samiul Haq (the “father of Taliban”) and Maulana Khalil who are among those who are on the UN-made list. They are unlikely to leave Imran alone and will want to use his shoulders to fire their guns at India.
This needs to be understood well by starry-eyed Indians who remember Imran the glamorous, successful cricketer and do not know his political inclinations, nor the fact that he is the current star of the Pakistani establishment that lives and thrives on being anti-India.