He can talk about peace and amity—and fraternize with the most brutal Islamists. He can wax eloquent about “civilized relationship” with India—and support the ISI’s mischief in Kashmir.
If there were to be a contest for charm offensive among the heads of government, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan would win hands down. Besides, he could give the slickest lawyer a complex, for he defends the indefensible with marvelous finesse. He makes his country, the biggest exporter of jihad, look like a paragon of virtue, a victim of terror which it is still fighting fearlessly. His sophistry was in full flow when he spoke to Indian journalists in Islamabad recently.
In April this year, as an Opposition leader, Imran Khan had supported Saeed; his party submitted an adjournment notice against the ban on Jamaat-Ud-Dawa.
Calling for peaceful relations with India, he said that “he can’t be held responsible for the past.” True, he can’t be held responsible for the past sins of his country, for what its politicians and generals have done, but is he even willing to recognize those sins? You need to be Navjot Singh Sidhu to answer in the affirmative. But then Sidhu is not alone who is gulled by the sophistry and sophistication of Khan’s; the folks who get floored by his chicanery are a legion, in India as well as in the West.
Is Khan even willing to accept that Jamaat-Ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed and India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim are criminals? There are no clear answers. Khan just said, “There are UN sanctions against Hafiz Saeed. There is already a clampdown on the Jamaat-Ud-Dawah chief. These are the issues we have inherited.” But what clampdown, Mr. Khan? It was because of intense international pressure that Saeed was put under house arrest after the 26/11 attack; there was a mock trial, after which he was freed by a Pakistani court in 2009. The US has announced a reward of $10 million on his head.
In April this year, as an Opposition leader, Imran Khan had supported Saeed; his party submitted an adjournment notice against the ban on Jamaat-Ud-Dawa. The then Pakistan government was working on a Bill to permanently ban Saeed-led JuD and other jihadist outfits and terrorists on the interior ministry’s watch list. Khan’s party sought to block the legislation.
Since then, neither Khan nor his party nor his government has done anything to suggest that he wants to improve relations with India. Of course, he has said many other things, and with great aplomb. The Oxford alumnus has a silver tongue—and a dark soul. He can talk about peace and amity—and fraternize with the most brutal Islamists. He can wax eloquent about “civilized relationship” with India—and support the ISI’s mischief in Kashmir.
The least he can do is reciprocate the Indian gesture of giving the MFN (most favored nation) to India. This is Islamabad’s international obligation.
“I said the two steps on Day One [after taking an oath] but I got such a bad response when meeting at the UN was canceled. Why have such conditions for talks? As if there is no intention for peace. We will now wait for April after elections for talks,” he told an Indian news channel. After winning the elections in July, Khan had said, “I really want to fix our ties. You take one step forward, we will take two.”
But didn’t Atal Bihari Vajpayee take a step when he traveled to Lahore in a bus? The result was Kargil. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to Pakistan, and Pathankot happened. How many steps our leaders have to take for Pakistan to acknowledge that our intentions are good?
And, by the way, how many steps—real steps, not deceitful oratory—Islamabad has taken? Acting against Dawood and Saeed, reining in the ISI, and restraining jihadists would need a complete transformation of Pakistani state and society, so to expect Khan to have done that in a short span would be unfair. But the least he can do is reciprocate the Indian gesture of giving the MFN (most favored nation) to India. This is Islamabad’s international obligation. The new Prime Minister has not been able to take even this step which could improve trade between the two nations, which Pakistan is so desirous of.
Against this backdrop, Khan’s claims sound hollow and cadences appear affected. His backers at home are the Army (which is severely infected with Islamism), the mad mullahs, and the most reactionary elements. Unsurprisingly, his foreign policy, especially for India, is that of terror export. A jihadist speaking accented English is still a jihadist, as a cannibal eating with fork and spoon is still a cannibal.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.