Asma Jahangir has described the Pakistan Tehriki Insaaf’s statement regarding her as a “fierce campaign which is not only illogical but also vicious”. “The assertion made by Imran Khan about any decision made by the two major political parties regarding her candidacy to the caretaker IM has been denied several times and thus there is absolutely no need to single her out for this vicious propaganda,” she said in a rejoinder to the PTI statement.
The criteria of the PTI were apolitical and undemocratic, she said and added: “It calls for a caretaker who has no opinion or a mind of his own.”
It’s no secret that a number of political parties had and continued to have support of the establishment, she said, asserting that there were strong indications that the PTI was no different.
“Singling out her name in an orchestrated way is another such indication. The claim that the objections are not based on any personality clash sounds hollow as her name was slammed even before laying down the so-called objective criteria.”
She said the fact that the two major parties she had often criticised found her neutral, clearly showed that neutrality was not the issue. “I had also publicly criticised the candidacy of Asif Ali Zaradari for the presidency and the PML-N often enough when in power and out of it.”
In any event, the constitutional procedure required a consensus only of the PM and the leader of the opposition and not of every party or group outside parliament, she said.
“If neutrality for the PTI means that all caretakers should toe its line then only a PTI supporter will fit the bill. If it means that the person should have no opinion other than in support of the PTI, it may be searching for a spineless person.”
Referring to the PTI accusation about ‘attacking’ the judiciary, she said criticising courts for genuine reasons was every person’s basic right to free expression.
“Whenever the judiciary has been targeted by the executive, she has been on the frontline in denouncing such executive actions. Surely anyone with some intelligence will not have blind respect for all Pakistan’s institutions. Such an expectation only
qualifies pliable entities, which is precisely what had been done in the past and is being engineered at present,” she said.
She also asserted that she had never supported any ‘undemocratic’ ruler ever, whereas Imran Khan had been a supporter of Pervez Musharraf’s referendum.
Imran Khan claims he can lead the nation with skill on the premise that he has the experience of running a hospital successfully, though his political judgments in the past had been flawed, she said.
“In the same vein I’ve also successfully run several organisations and have had no previous history of supporting dictatorships.
I remained the longest serving UN Rapporteur whose basic criteria is independence. My reputation as fearless and independent human rights activist is globally known and does not need Imran Khan’s validation.”
She said she was happy that she did not fit the ‘unfit’ criteria of the PTI and had no intention of tailoring her views and position according to the PTI’s ‘apolitical’ qualifications.
Asma said she had never lobbied for a position or accepted one even when offered as her independence was far more valuable to the causes she espoused.
When I first floated the idea of the Peace March to Waziristan, there were many sceptics who were apprehensive as to its impact. But, within a short span of time, I have been amazed at the increase in support that the idea has generated.
There are now tens of thousands of ardent supporters who want to be part of this peace odyssey to protest against a kind of barbarity that has no parallel in the international domain encompassing moral, legal and human benchmarks.
The drone strikes reflect an arrogant mindset that does not distinguish between the guilty and the innocent, between the perpetrator and the afflicted, and between the criminal and the aggrieved. Banishing all trappings of justice, this mindset is criminally oblivious to the sufferings of the peace-loving civilians of the tribal areas.
The strikes leave behind a trail of dead women, dead children and dead old people with no one held accountable. The remote-controlled flying machines are programmed to decimate them all brutally and indiscriminately.
What a shame that a country that was known for its pioneering values and its unparalleled commitment to human freedoms should stoop low to annihilate all symbols of civilised coexistence and, in the process, violate the inherent need for establishing a paradigm whereby one could go after the guilty without making the innocent suffer.
Instead of winning over the hearts and minds of the inhabitants, the US is out to drive fear in every soul that walks the earth and to make people live in awe of the mammoth killing machines that it commands. The strategy is totally counter-productive and, being a warrior race, the people of the tribal areas only end up joining the militants.
A recently-released report by the researchers at the New York University School of Law and Stanford University Law School, titled “Living under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan,” states that “the people in the areas targeted by the drone campaign are being systematically terrorised.
It is a campaign of terror-highly effective terror.” The report goes on to say that “the drone campaign terrorises men, women and children” and that “even funerals of drone victims have been targeted.” Forty Maliks holding a jirga were burned in an indiscriminate attack.
Old people and young children have been equally traumatised as a consequence of the inhuman drone campaign which has “discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.” Along with so many other luminaries around the world, former US president Jimmy Carter has condemned Obama’s drone policy.
Another reprehensible factor is the complicity of the government of Pakistan in these barbaric attacks, of which there are cognisable indications. According to Wikileaks, former PM Gilani approved the US drone strikes saying: “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”
President Zardari went even further by saying that he did not care about the “collateral damage.” Admiral Mullen, while testifying before a Senate hearing committee headed by Sen Levin, confirmed that the government of Pakistan was on board regarding the drone attacks. The government has failed in its principal responsibility to safeguard the lives and properties of its citizens as enshrined in Article 4 of the Constitution, as well as Pakistan’s security and sovereignty.
Over 40,000 citizens have been sacrificed because the government sold its soul to forces that facilitated its advent into power in Pakistan. Thanks to the ongoing military operation, most of the schools in Waziristan remain closed, depriving a generation of children of the avenues of education.
The road to peace in this part of the world goes through restive Waziristan. In spite of rendering countless sacrifices in the face of indiscriminate and barbaric drone strikes, their resolve remains paramount. While they continue to seek peace, they are not willing to compromise their honour and self-respect, no matter how daunting the challenges that they may have to confront.
The PTI’s Peace March to Waziristan is an effort to recognise the resolve of the people of the area and initiate an international drive to make the dream of peace possible.
Alongside hundreds of thousands of other people, we are joined in this endeavour by the leading human rights activists of the US, including Clive Stafford Smith from Reprieve, former US envoy Mary Ann Wright from Code Pink and Leah Bolger from Veterans for Peace.
They’ll all meet the affectees of the drone campaign and the tribal leaders of Waziristan and see first-hand the kind of trauma and terror that this inhuman campaign has unleashed. This Peace March will also reiterate the resolve that there is no submitting before the barrel of the gun.
At a different level, the PTI’s Peace March is also an effort to end the alienation of the people of Waziristan who have been unjustly bracketed with the bands of extremists.
The true face of their inheritance and the proud traditions that they are the custodians of should be brought forth to the notice of the people of the world so that they could together pursue the dream of peace with honour. This will happen once we disengage from this so-called “war on terror.”
That’s when Pakistan will no longer be perceived as fighting the US war and the local militants will stop thinking of the conflict as a jihad against foreign intervention. Peace will come when the tribal people, in the hundreds and thousands, move over to our side and then proceed to take care of a few thousand militants.
The drone strikes constitute a flawed policy which has only increased anti-US feelings and extremism in Pakistan. The US has tried to subjugate the proud people of the area by using all its killer machines, but has failed. That’s why it is now contemplating withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014.
I believe that the date should be advanced substantially so that the US is able to avoid leaving behind an unmistakable trail of animosity that may continue to haunt it for generations.
The PTI Peace March will provide the US a chance to change course that will not only benefit the people of the area, but also the US in nullifying considerably the hate-filled legacy that it has nurtured for over a decade of inhuman presence here.
Together, let’s all give peace a chance – a genuine chance!
Filed under: Imran Khan, Pak-US Relations, War on Terror | Tagged: Imran Khan, Imran Khan & Drone Attacks, Imran Khan and Taliban, Pakistan, Pakistan under PM Gilani, Pakistan US Relations, War on Terror | Leave a Comment »
Imran Khan, Esq
25th September 2012
It is with great sadness and disappointment that I am writing to let you know I have been compelled to leave PTI. As you know, when you came to see me at the time you had just formed PTI, I had made a commitment to you that I would join PTI only whenever I was able to join direct politics, especially electoral politics. I totally agreed with your vision for change, especially in the context of foreign policy which has always been a central focus of mine for over 40 years. So it was with absolutely no hesitation that I came to see you in 2008 after the elections PTI boycotted. I joined PTI with no bargaining for any position. All I sought was an assurance that the same ideals, again especially in terms of change and foreign policy, still prevailed.
I worked for the Party and tried to help any way I could – be it with Omar Cheema in the media or with the administration of the Islamabad office as well as formulating an alternate viable foreign policy narrative for the Party. The most encouraging and vital aspect of PTI at the time was the driving sense everyone had that we were going to be the harbingers of change not only in terms of nationalist policies for Pakistan but also in a new egalitarian non-elitist political culture. In fact this egalitarianism prevailed throughout the party beginning with yourself, which allowed for a truly democratic interaction in the Party.
In addition, your appeal of change was your own style of politics where you reached out directly to the masses of the electorate. It may have taken a long time but the Lahore 2011 jalsa was the game changer for Pakistan’s electoral politics. Unfortunately after the Lahore Oct 2011 jalsa, after which you, like ZA Bhutto, could have built up your party’s existing leadership including the large group of middle class and professional followers you had into potential “electables” who would directly interact with the people, you chose to open the floodgates for old traditional “electables”.
So, after trying to accept the new PTI realities for some time, I feel in all honesty I cannot go along with this post-Lahore PTI for the following reasons:
This shift in moving from directly reaching out to the electorate to using intermediaries – the so-called “electables” – between the people and yourself has gradually turned the PTI into a traditional political party with all the excess baggage that that connotes. No doubt some of these “electables” are indeed financially clean, but to effectively hand them control of the Party was unwarranted. After all if they were so skilled and committed to principles then why were they unable to formulate policies to improve the country? Most had been Party hopping and had occupied public offices for substantive time periods yet they represented no stream of change or an alternative narrative to the status quo. The energy policy of PTI reflects this status quo mindset as does the economic policy which is effectively purely a fiscal policy set to please the IMF! A whole critique can be made of the economic policy but the main point is that it has no relief for the common man, including a total absence of any reduction in utility rates. It is strange that while you have been critiquing GST and indirect taxation consistently and correctly, the PTI economic policy has done a total reversal on this position – reflective of the policy shifts being made in PTI.
A new culture of money has sprung up with big money taking over Party programmes. The plane and helicopter dependency is one reflection of this but so are other disturbing happenings like the donation of Rs 50 lakhs by one individual to some ISF leaders directly – ostensibly for aiding the membership drive – instead of it going via the Party account.
The membership drive itself through membership booklets has some serious questions hanging over it and I did try to raise these in the PSC meeting on the issue but to no avail. I still maintain that by selling the booklets we allowed the rich members to purchase huge amounts of the booklets and then make their members with no check on whether these books were being filled simply to build up local support for the intra party elections at Union and District levels or whether the members being enlisted were genuinely believers and supporters of PTI! Also rumours abound about motorbikes and other gifts being given by the big money players to people who managed to make a certain number of members. In other words, the intra-Party elections are not going to be held on a level playing field by any yardstick!
The reality is that today PTI has been effectively taken over by traditional politicians reflecting big money and/or feudal “sardars”. As if that is not disappointing enough, retired civil and military bureaucrats have also found senior niches in the Party. Tragically none of these new entrants can bring about the change which PTI had been promising.
To make matters worse, our think tanks which contain some of the most senior technocrats have been totally ignored in policy making despite some very competent people being present there like Mr Pervez Butt who headed our PAEC for many years. All these competent people have been either totally ignored or treated with utter disdain by the big money players.
As for the incident in Rajanpur, I maintain my position that you could have driven the one hour distance from DG Khan to Rajanpur and I had offered Mr Tareen for your group to stay overnight at my village if you could not make it to Mr Tareen’s farm in Lodhran. The next day you had to go to Sindh and my village was much closer and Mr Tareen has an airstrip next door in Jamaldinwali so his plane could have come to pick your party up. That I made the critical speech before our people in Rajanpur was necessary as I felt their pain – since they had waited from 11 am right uptil 4 45 pm! Many were flood affectees and to simply suggest that they should be reassembled from across the district the next day was not possible.
Sadly, instead of resolving the issue amicably, your social media and their “trolls” chose to use filthy abuses against my daughter which compelled her to leave the party; and you chose to adopt a vengeful posture by serving me with a show cause notice and then sending a message that I should make a public apology and retract my statement. Since I maintain I did nothing wrong and since there was nothing incorrect in my statement about the takeover of the Party, I will not dignify the show cause notice with a response – especially since the points cited in it also happen to be factually incorrect.
I have never doubted your integrity or commitment but unfortunately you are being overwhelmed by those who have never had an ideology in all the years they were in politics or the bureaucracy. It is not enough to simply have faith in you because a Party is defined by more than one man – it is defined by its collective leadership.
I hope that we are not reduced to abuse and name calling on the social media again as it will not do anyone any good. I do not want to reduce myself to personal attacks and we refrained from such filth even when my daughter was being subjected to filthy abuse. But there are limits to everyone’s patience.
If PTI really does choose to revert to directly relating to the masses, its original character and ideology of change and justice, I will be there to serve the Party in any way I can. For me coming into electoral politics through PTI was simply to affect national agendas in a way that qualitatively changes Pakistan for the better. Sadly, the commitment to change, that made us all in PTI develop a comradeship and bond that was unique, is withering away fast in all but name. So it is with a heavy heart that I leave PTI knowing that the only change PTI has brought has been in yourself and the nature of the collective leadership.
Shireen M Mazari
- Raymond Baker, an international renowned author, wrote in his book that Nawaz Sharif did corruption worth $417 million. The book says that Nawaz Sharif took a commission of $160 million from Daewoo for the motorway which was recently made. If Baker had made a false allegation, then why did you not initiate a case against him?
- You bought four apartments in Mayfair worth more than Rs1 billion. Now their value has gone up to Rs4.5 billion. Where did you get the money from?
- In 1994, you stated your income as Rs150,000 and you gave a tax of Rs14,000. If this is your income, then how did you buy a property in Mayfair?
- You took a loan from Al Taufiq Bank worth $30 million and then you defaulted it. They took you to court and attached your property. From where did you get the money to pay back those $30 million?
- Ishaq Dar gave an affidavit saying that Nawaz Sharif did money laundering by opening a fictitious account by the name of Qazi family in London. The BBC did a film on that too.
- You took a loan worth Rs6 billion from Pakistani banks and you had them defaulted. Did you return back the loan?
- You have a 1,700 acre land in Raiwind. Where did you get the money from to buy that land?
- Where did the people’s tax money go? How much of the tax money was put into Raiwind?
- Your whole family has properties in London. You want to do government in Pakistan but your children’s properties are lying abroad. You should own it like I owned it right now.
- You planted a steel mill in Jeddah of $150 million. Your tax return does not show that you have enough income to plant a mill.
- You froze your foreign accounts in 1998, but tell us, how much money did you transfer abroad the night before?
PTI’s more than 30 fan pages were hacked today in a single go, costing the political party millions of fans go wasted.
No one has taken the responsibility for this massive hack down of PTI’s facebook fan pages.
President of the Insaf Students Federation in Karachi, Arsalan Ghumman, reported that the official Facebook pages of PTI leader Imran Khan, the student wing Insaf Students Federation, and several, more including that of Dr. Alvi were hacked into and hidden from the public’s eye.
“The pages were hijacked at 3 pm on Friday. We are in touch with the Facebook authorities to recover them,” he said.
On other hands Facebook is notorious for taking such cases non-seriously.
Reportedly, hacker first cracked the gmail id of Mr. Imran Ghazali, the web manager of PTI social media team before cracking into facebook pages of political party.
It is unclear so far if pages were deleted or are kept private (hidden from public) by the hacker.
If not recovered, this is going to be a big blow PTI’s short term plans. This incident yet again reminds us that we are living in a country without cyber law.
Pakistan’s civilian government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party, has long been an irritant to the country’s generals. President Asif Ali Zardari runs a corrupt and inept administration and has been far too willing to cozy up to Washington. Husain Haqqani, until November 2011, was Pakistan’s controversial envoy to the United States. He has been a thorn in the side of General Headquarters since publishing his book Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military in 2005 while at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. However, the Pakistani Army swallowed its contempt for the government and such representatives as Haqqani because the generals had very little choice in the matter — at least, that is, until now.
One reason is that, after nearly a decade of living under Gen. Musharraf, Pakistanis are wary of military rule. The Army, too, has suffered a series of beatings to its reputation after nearly a decade of unpopular military cooperation with the United States and even more unpopular operations on Pakistan’s soil. The Army knows that another military government would be a tough sell.
Another reason is that, while the Army made much of the sanguinaryNATO strike that killed 24 soldiers in November, both it and the ISI — Pakistan’s most notorious intelligence agency — are still smoldering over the humiliating facts that Osama Bin Ladenenjoyed sanctuary in a cantonment town a short distance from the premier Pakistan Military Academy and that the United States could conduct a unilateral raid to kill and extract him before the Army even had a clue. Thus, the Army has been forced to work behind the scenes and through other institutions, such as the judiciary, to keep this government on his heels.
Third, no matter how detestable Zardari, Inc. may be to the men in khaki, they have had no real alternative until now. The primary rival to Zardari and his PPP is former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his political fiefdom, the Pakistan Muslim League. The Army is scarcely more able to stomach a Sharif return to power after he sacked one Army chief (Gen. Jehangir Karamat) and tried to sack another (Musharraf). Karamat, a true democrat, retired without resistance; however, when Sharif tried to oust Musharraf, the Army rolled in and toppled his government.
But the Army’s luck is changing along with that of Imran Khan, whose political fortunes have shifted in recent months. For years, the lothario cricket star turned politician could barely win his own seat. However, with what Pakistanis suspect is support from the military and ISI, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has successfully wooed numerous turncoat politicians and their swollen vote banks. Khan has asked politicians who are now joining PTI to vacate their current elected seats in the parliament both as a means of ensuring that they do not reverse course but also as a ploy to bring about fresh elections earlier than 2013, when general polls are to be held. So far, PTI does not have the numbers needed to bring down the government, but politics in Pakistan is about coalitions and vote banks. This is a long shot, but not impossible with ever more self-interested politicians from other parties flocking his way.
Khan holds views that align well with those of the Army. He has roused the sentiments of Pakistan’s masses by calling for a restructuring — if not outright cessation — of military cooperation with Washington. He supports the Afghan Taliban, believes that Pakistan’s armed forces should not be operating against Pakistani militants, and espouses a strong — if absurdly pandering and unrealistic — position on corruption. His views on sharia and blasphemy are chameleon-like. He is anything to anyone.
Not only does the Army have a palatable political alternative to either the PPP or PML-N – it now has a mechanism to bring about the downfall of this government: Pakistan’s interventionist Supreme Court. The current chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has long loathed Zardari because the latter opposed his reinstatement following his dismissal by then President Musharraf. The Supreme Court also rubbished a constitutional amendment – the “National Reconciliation Ordinance” (NRO) — that dropped various criminal charges against Zardari and his wife, Benazir Bhutto, along with other PPP members.
This legislation, which was brokered along with Musharraf and the U.S. government, paved the way for Bhutto’s return in the fall of 2007. Washington understood the NRO to be the only way to salvage Musharraf’s battered legitimacy by allowing him to remain as president while also paving the way for Bhutto to become prime minister following elections scheduled for late 2007. Her assassination changed everyone’s fortunes.
In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the NRO was unconstitutional, with obvious implications for the various PPP officials who benefited from it, including Zardari. The Supreme Court has demanded to know why the government has failed to implement its 2009 vacation of the NRO by reinstating all criminal cases. The Supreme Court has also informed Zardari that he does not enjoy automatic immunity from prosecution for his alleged crimes.
The Army also now has a newer hook to hang proceedings against this government: the“Memogate” scandal. In the aftermath of the bin Laden raid, a mysterious memo was delivered to Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, . The memo asked for U.S. assistance to stave off a coup and in return offered to reverse Pakistan’s decades-long policy of jihad under an expanding nuclear umbrella. Mullen admits he received the document, but quickly concluded that it was not credible. The memo riles Pakistan’s military and intelligence officials because it sought to put them in their proper place: under civilian control. This was the last straw for Pakistan’s security complex, which for years has objected to this government’s efforts to enlist U.S. assistance in curbing its power and influence.
At the vortex of Memogate is Haqqani, now back in Pakistan and subject to a travel ban, and Mansoor Ijaz, a wealthy Pakistani-American. For outside observers, the proceedings are bizarre. On Nov. 23, former PM Sharif filed a petition to the Supreme Court demanding a probe into the scandal under Article 184(3) of Pakistan’s Constitution. With no charges filed and without any reference from a lower court, Pakistan’s highest court of appeal has ordered a judicial commission to determine the authenticity and providence of the memo within four weeks. (This is possible because this provision of Pakistan’s Constitution permits the court to directly hear a matter that is of public importance relating to the enforcement of fundamental rights.)
Whether or not Haqqani drafted or dictated the memo in question is difficult to discern, as there is no direct evidence linking him to it other than Ijaz’s assertions and a series of cryptic BlackBerry messages. Ijaz claims Haqqani dictated the memo to him over the phone, and thus far Ijaz has not claimed to have recordings of those conversations. Few analysts are foolhardy enough to vigorously defend either man, as both have long-established records of duplicity and double-dealing.
The stakes are high for Haqqani. He believes that his life is in danger because he has been widely depicted in Pakistan’s jingoistic press as having sold out Pakistan’s sovereignty to the Americans. That he has been an extremely effective ambassador and ably buffeted Pakistan from various U.S. fits of outrage is immaterial: Haqqani has been presumed to be guilty, has not been afforded the opportunity to present his version of events to counter those of Ijaz, has been denied freedom of movement without any charges being filed against him, and lives as a virtual prisoner within the prime minister’s house.
Leaving aside the particular fate of Haqqani, it’s important to understand this bizarre fiasco as a new sort of coup. In the old days, Pakistani generals sent tanks to oust a government. Now they plant stories in the press and manipulate the legal system.
First, if, for the sake of argument, one assumes that Haqqani is the author of the memo and indeed requested U.S. assistance in maintaining and expanding civilian control over the government and national security policy, the request is hardly treasonous. After all, the political disposition articulated in the memo is exactly what is called for in Pakistan’s Constitution — civilian control of the military.
Second, Haqqani is hardly the first to request U.S. involvement in Pakistan’s national security affairs. In 1950, Pakistan’s first premier, Liaqat Ali Khan, told an American journalist that should the United States “guarantee our territorial integrity, I will not keep any Army at all.” Instead, Khan’s visit ushered in the deep military cooperation with Pakistan that has enabled the Army to strongly root itself as the dominant institution in the country. But no one even intimated that such statements were treasonous.
Third, if Ijaz is to be believed, we must also consider his claim that Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, traveled to the Gulf to secure permission to sack Zardari. Surely, if these claims have any credence, such action is clearly an extraconstitutional step to undermine the government, if not high treason under Article 6 of Pakistan’s battered 1973 Constitution.
Watchers of Pakistan’s sordid history of military intrusion into civilian affairs understand the rich irony of this current saga. Not one of the generals who have overthrown varied governments has ever been charged with treason. Not one of the varied Supreme Court justices who violated their oaths to protect the Constitution by providing judicial sanction to Pakistan’s varied military coups has ever been punished.
So let’s call the devil by his name: Memogate should be understood as a sophisticated attempt by the Army and intelligence agency to use the court to bring down this government, not just a titillating imbroglio involving Husain Haqqani.
But is there anything Washington can do about it? While the current Pakistani government is certainly abysmal, what’s also true is that the only way Pakistani democracy can solidify is through consecutive constitutional changes of power through elections. If the United States and its partners genuinely support Pakistan’s fragile democracy as the only means to achieve a more stable Pakistan in the long run, then they should act now to preempt the coup that, ironically, the suspect memo was supposedly written to prevent in the first place.
Imran Khan said he grew up “hating India” due to the bloodshed and violence associated with the Partition but his views changed after he toured India to play cricket.
“I grew up hating India because I grew up in Lahoreand there was so much…the massacres of 1947, so much bloodshed and anger. “But as I started touring India, I got such love and friendship there that all this disappeared,” Khan said in an interview to Karan Thapar for CNN-IBN’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ program.
“As time passed, I realised that there’s so much…we have a similar history, there’s so much in culture that’s so similar compared to Western countries.
“There’s so much we have in common and above all, there is so much the people of the two countries (can) benefit from if we have a civilised relationship,” he said.
Khan said if his PTI came to power in the next general election, he would do his utmost to improve relations between the two countries. “I can give my best shot. I can fight to the last ball. We can only try. Success is sometimes not in our hands, it is in the hands of the almighty. So I can say that I will give it my best shot,” he said.
Khan said he prayed to God to allow him to work for better India-Pakistan relations “because I, for one, have received so much love in India”.
Asked if this vision would guide the relationship with India, he said: “Absolutely, I have no prejudice against any country, and more specifically, India.”
Referring to the Indian cricket team’s tour ofPakistanin 2005-06, Khan said: “I’d never seen two countries as close as that. So it’s very sad that Mumbai happens (and) we were back to square one”.
Imran Khan, attracted a huge crowd estimated at more than 100,000 people on Oct 30, 2011 evening. The rally represented what supporters and some political analysts said was Imran Khan’s emergence as a serious challenger to the PPP and its longtime rival, the PML-N.
Imran assailed the leaders of both parties — President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif — as creatures of the status quo, and he has been a loud and frequent critic of Pakistan’s alliance with the United States, saying it was motivated by money.
The size of the crowd that Mr. Khan drew inLahore, a traditional stronghold of the Muslim League-N, surprised his opponents and made an impression on political analysts.
Mr. Khan, 58, has languished on the political sidelines for years, and his political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Justice Party, has no seats in the current Parliament. But his popularity has soared recently as voters, especially younger ones, have grown disillusioned with the establishment parties.
A survey conducted by an American polling organization, the Pew Research Center, found in June that Imran Khan had become the most popular political figure in the country.
After the crowd gave him a rousing welcome at the rally on Sunday evening, Mr. Khan threw out challenges to both Zardari and Sharif on the question of personal integrity, urging them both to disclose their assets or face civil disobedience.
“This is not a flood, this is a tsunami,” Mr. Khan said of the crowd thronging the Minaar-e-Pakistan ground inLahoreto hear him. “Anyone up against it will be swept away.”
The government is not required to call a general election until February 2013, but with a sinking economy, rising inflation, power struggles and terrorism taking a toll on the nation, opposition parties have begun pushing for an earlier date.
Critics and political opponents dismiss Mr. Khan as a political nobody and question his judgment and his party’s capacity to mount a serious campaign, let alone to govern. They say it relies entirely on Mr. Khan’s personal charisma and lacks any other substantial figures in its ranks.
In an interview, Mr. Khan shrugged off the criticism.
“People confuse two types of politics,” Mr. Khan said as he sprawled on a sofa in the house, situated on a hill that overlooks the city. “One is the politics of movement. The other is traditional power-based politics. Tehreek-e-Insaf is never going to win the traditional way.”
Mr. Khan opposes cooperating with the United States against militants based in the restive northwestern regions of the country near the Afghan border. He says that Pakistan should not send its own forces to conduct operations there and should not allow American drone strikes there, either, because of the civilian casualties they cause. He favors a negotiated peace instead.
Mr. Khan led 2,000 people in a protest outside the Parliament inIslamabadon October 28, opposing American drone strikes, and he reiterated his stance at the rally on Sunday.
“My message to America is that we will have friendship with you, but we will not accept any slavery,” he said. “We will help you in a respectable withdrawal of your troops from Afghanistan, but we will not launch a military operation inPakistanfor you.”
The atmosphere at the Sunday rally was electric. Several famous pop singers warmed up the crowd with music before Mr. Khan’s speech, giving the rally the feel of a concert. Women and girls in colorful clothes and sunglasses and young men in Western and national dress filled the audience.
Mr. Khan’s speech itself was bit of a letdown to some, wayward and unfocused, but his fans did not mind.
“Lahore decides what happens in Punjab,” he said. “Punjab decides what happens in Pakistan.”
Analysts said that drawing a big crowd in Lahore would not necessarily translate into electoral success, but it could propel Mr. Khan to the forefront of the political conversation.
“I think it’s a historic turning point in the country’s politics,” said Rasul Baksh Rais, who teaches at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. “It showed that people are deeply touched with the message of hope and change, and also with the frustration that is written all over Pakistan with the existing political parties.”
He said that after 15 years on the political fringes, Mr. Khan may have his moment now. “Today, he has been able to get his message across,” Rais said. “This is the beginning. And it will result in a big change in a year or two.”
by Naeem Tahir
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is primarily constructed around Imran Khan’s person and is backed up by the reputation of his being the captain of Pakistan’s cricket team winning the World Cup. Several cricket supporters were surprised at his acceptance speech when he said, “I have won the World Cup…” without acknowledging that it was a team effort.
His second achievement is the establishment of a cancer hospital in the name of his late mother. It is a personal achievement through fundraising after the World Cup success. The hospital enjoys a good reputation and it is professionally managed.
When Imran entered politics, his image was high. He thought he will conquer all, but politics is different from cricket, or even from a hospital. His hospital runs on the contribution of philanthropists and service charges, and cricket needs individual skills.
He was offered a share in governance by Musharraf, but negotiations failed due to Imran’s overestimation of his strength. He lost valuable opportunity of sharing power and gaining experience. Imran soon appeared lost in politics; people equated him with the style of Asghar Khan and late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Both of these leaders never obtained ‘power’, the known pursuit of politics.
Imran Khan appeared to be going through introspection. He was trying to fight against his reputation of being a playboy and his involvement in overseas scandals. Even his marriage with a British heiress was seen with suspicion. He needed to neutralise the critics of the extreme Right. He met the leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami and many other groups of the Right and even extreme Right. He started to wear shalwar kameez on a regular basis. His marriage finally ended. All this convinced the Right and so-called religious groups. Since then he has had increased support from the ‘right’ political groups and seems determined to hold on to it.
Imran has also worked hard on the non-conventional politicians and the youth. Both of these segments are attracted by his debonair look and fresh approach. He is indeed more educated than most of our politicians. He stands out as an upright person among the of ‘jaali (fake) degree’ type parliamentarians. His personality is an asset for him.
His political stance needs a careful and serious analysis. The main point of concern is that he has never taken a clear stand against the activities of the Taliban. Instead, he has been pleading for a ‘negotiated’ settlement, knowing full well that all negotiations and ‘peace’ agreements have been used by the Taliban for the purpose of consolidating and then continuing terror activity. He should have offered to negotiate himself if he was confident of this course of action. The failure of the infamous Swat agreements must still be fresh in the public memory. Imran has never supported the army action. This includes army action in Swat and in South Waziristan. He has not even condemned the attacks on GHQ and, more recently, the attack on the Pakistan Navy Station (PNS) Mehran base.
On the other hand, he is prominent in demanding the blocking of supplies to NATO forces through Pakistan — a step which would help the Taliban. He is against drone attacks. It is true that the drones cause regrettable collateral damage but they also target the al Qaeda and its supporters. The Taliban also demand an end to drones. Imran is prominently part of anti-US campaigns. True that many American policies have been self-serving, but then it is our responsibility to protect Pakistan’s interests against any foreign country, not just the US. Just being against the US and the war on terror is again an indirect help to the Taliban. Most significantly, his calling the war on terror as an American war is the standard Taliban slogan. Over 30,000 Pakistanis have been killed due to the Taliban’s terror attacks. Is it still not our war?
Looking at these factors, one is forced to question: what side is Imran on?
He is agitating in Karachi against the supplies to NATO forces, and the drone attacks. He was active with the extreme Right in protesting against Raymond Davis’ release. He has been doing sit-in protests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In fact, the PTI has been doing so many protests that it may be aptly called Tehreek-e-Ehtijaj. Imran’s group seems to be joining every protest and playing to the gallery.
This strategy has also given certain advantages to Imran Khan. Consistent ‘exposure’ is one of these. Perhaps more significant is the fact that he has won over a sizeable portion of the supporters of Nawaz Sharif. This support primarily comes from the Taliban or their sympathisers. So Imran Khan is obliged to toe their line. As a politician he realised that the white collar will not win him an election but the rightists may. They get together, provide street power as well as loud noises, and this works to collect crowds. Imran is the preferred choice of extreme Right also because of his energetic style, which is more convincing than that of Nawaz Sharif; his eloquence is impressive against Nawaz Sharif’s limited capability, and indeed Imran is a ‘fresh’ image as compared to the repeatedly tried image of Nawaz Sharif. He may find it very hard to risk alienating himself from this segment. He also likes to have them because it is quieting down the critics of his flamboyance and flirtations of youth.
Soon there will be the final stage when Imran may need to do some soul searching once again, and decide if he is going to flow with the tide of extremist groups or stand on his own and refuse to be their cover politician.