Who is calling the shots in Pakistan? Prime Minister Imran Khan at his rhetorical best when he addressed the Parliament during the recent Indo-Pak crisis. But who wrote the script? Instead of expressing the views of the civilian government, the PM speaks the language of the military establishment….writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
When Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made his speech in the National Assembly on 28 February 2019 announcing the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan, there was much euphoria. There was also a suggestion made by some that Imran Khan should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his conciliatory tone and attempts to make peace with India!
One wonders if anyone has seen the full speech that former Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan and current Prime Minister made to a Joint Session of Parliament in the National Assembly recently. Every bit of it is filled with innuendos and charges against India. The speech on the floor of the National Assembly not only justified terrorism, denied the existence of terrorist groups in Pakistan and implied that the Pulwama attack was an Indian conspiracy! Well, the Pakistani PM was at pains to explain that his government had tried its level best to control the jihadi groups and was being forced to take action against them because of the pressure from FATF.
PM Khan said India’s attitude had indicated that before the general elections in India some big incident might take place which could be used by the Indian government to its political advantage. He added that “Meanwhile the Pulwama incident took place and finger was pointed at Pakistan 30 minutes after the incident. If India had any evidence, it should have shared it with Pakistan.”. Imran Khan went on to claim that Pakistan had received the Indian dossier showing proof of the links between the Jaish and the Pak ISI a day after India had struck the JeM madrassa in Jaba Top in Balakot. The Pak Prime Minister had the guts to imply that the Pulwama attack could have been done by India because of the forthcoming elections! He also said that Pakistan had been expecting some incident before the election. Does this not make it clear to the world that it was Pakistan which was preparing to create chaos in India prior to the election?
Imran Khan said Kashmir was the bone of contention between the two countries and now people of India should think about solution to the issue. “Due to brutalities of Indian armed forces, there is an indigenous movement of the Kashmiri’s. I fear that more attacks can take place in Kashmir and again Pakistan will be blamed for them,” he added.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister argued that the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir was an indigenous movement, with little support from Pakistan! One is struck by the brazenness of this Pakistani politician, backed of course, by the Army, to claim that the jihadi’s in Kashmir have no support from Pakistan. This chicanery has gone on long enough and it is time to expose this to the international community. In fact, Imran Khan went on to allege that it was the present government of India’s policy that had led to the growth of the insurgent movement and blamed the Modi government for its hard line policy which was leading to people taking to jihad.
For all the bravado that Imran Khan shows about his military, he is also aware that nothing short of a nuclear exchange can give the Pak Army an edge over India. That is why he chose the path of de-escalation. Also, he had an incoming visit of the Saudi Crown Prince and he could not afford to scuttle the chance of getting money from an old friend of Pakistan. That Imran chose to link Pulwama’s timing with the visit of Crown Prince Salman to insinuate that India wanted to scuttle the visit. That is really hitting below the belt and unwarranted!
If Pakistan genuinely wants peace then why did it send F-16s across the border to target Indian military facilities in J&K? The Pakistani Prime Minister argued in Parliament that the only purpose of Pakistan’s strike (across the Line of Control) was to demonstrate its capability and will. “We did not want to inflict any casualty on India as we wanted to act in a responsible manner.” That the Pak civilian government and military are not on the same page is very clear as despite Imran’s claims of wanting peace, the military continues to rain artillery shells across the LoC into India.
Interestingly, PM Imran Khan lauded the role of the Pak media for ‘responsible reporting’ during the current India-Pakistan tension. He, however, criticised the Indian media for creating war hysteria to further escalate the tension. “Pakistani media has shown maturity because it has witnessed bomb blasts and seen bodies of victims for over 15 years during the war on terror,” he maintained.
He said there was another narrative growing in India that it was because of Islamic radicalism that individuals carried out suicide attacks to seek heaven. “I want to make it clear to the whole world that before 9/11, the highest number of suicide attacks came from Tamil Tigers who were Hindu. They did it not because of religion but because of desperation and as ‘a weapon of the weak’,” he said. Selective interpretation of history is often dangerous. Imran Khan should recall that the origin of the word assassin is from Arabia at the time of the First Crusade. The first modern suicide bombing took place in Lebanon and in 1983 by Hezbollah against the US Marine Corps Barracks. Suicide bombing is today a universal phenomenon and it must be situated in the Middle East with its historical origins.
At the end of the day, PM Imran Khan said what was required of him in the National Assembly on 28 February. Looked conciliatory, made all the right noises and blamed India for all the ills afflicting India-Pakistan relations. Not once was there a hint that Pakistan and its military had continued to create instability in India since 1947. Look at the situation otherwise too. There is no sign that Pakistan’s deep state is doing anything to control the jihadi factory. Each time the jihadis are brought under State control in one form or the other, the jihadi’s start working under another name. That is the nature of the monster that Pakistan has created. It is not something that is likely to change in Pakistan. One therefore must remember that despite whatever Prime Minister Imran Khan says, the chameleon will not change its colours. It is precisely for this reason that India must keep the pressure on Pakistan, both diplomatically and militarily.