Imran Khan had to explicitly submit to the Islamist ideology and the belligerence of the army to become a force to reckon with in his country. He had to become Taliban Khan
There is something very odd about Imran Khan. He is one of the finest all-rounders in cricket the world has seen, with 362 wickets and over 3,800 runs in 88 test matches, a bowling average below 23 and batting about 38, captaining the Pakistani team that won the 1992 world cup. Equally successful as a philanthropist and then as a politician. A playboy in his heyday, dating glamorous women and later marrying the daughter of a British billionaire. Educated at Oxford, very suave and articulate.
And an Islamist.
One would have thought that such a person would stand for the noble principles of liberty and fairness, of tolerance and plurality; instead, he sups with jihadists, parrots the lies of militarists, toes the line of the radicalized army, and supports the draconian blasphemy laws. This, by the way, was the reason that the all-powerful army, with generous assistance from a partisan judiciary, helped him win the elections. And this is the reason that the world, especially India, looks at his rise with suspicion and unease.
It says something about Pakistan that his achievements as a cricketer, a philanthropist, and later as a politician—he literally created a party out of nothing—were not enough for his success
Thus, the opinion piece of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, has titled the election results in Pakistan as “Imran Khan’s dangerous victory.” It said, “The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global terror watchdog, has put Pakistan on its ‘gray list’ on terror-sponsoring allegations. In September, the FATF could blacklist the country, which would be devastating for Pakistan’s dwindling economy. Pakistan, thus, needs reconciliation and a moderate path not only domestically but also internationally. But as prime minister, Imran Khan is likely to go the other way on both fronts.”
Further, while Khan was a great cricketer, as Economist wrote, “his victory is far from sportsmanlike.” It is not just the outgoing ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), that has been complaining about the army role in his victory; the human rights activists, the media, and other parties too have made similar accusations. There have been credible reports about army officers terrorizing at polling booths. While the section of the media critical of Khan was bullied, the one favouring him peddled fake news. Therefore, his claim that the recent elections were the freest and fairest of all elections in his country is pure hogwash. It was a fixed match that he and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have won.
It says something about Pakistan that his achievements as a cricketer, a philanthropist, and later as a politician—he literally created a party out of nothing—were not enough for his success. He had to explicitly submit to the Islamist ideology and the belligerence of the army to become a force to reckon with in his country. He had to become Taliban Khan.
The Ahmadiyyas are regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims because the former do not believe that the Prophet Mohammed was the final prophet
In October 2012, he shocked everybody, including the clergy, by saying that the Taliban were fighting a “holy war.” Quoting the Qur’an, he said: “It is very clear that whoever is fighting for their freedom is fighting a jihad… The people who are fighting in Afghanistan against the foreign occupation are fighting a jihad.” Not only the Afghan politicians were outraged; even the Ulema Council, an outfit of senior clerics, called his comments “un-Islamic.”
He also protested against the US drone attacks against the Taliban.
In the last few years, Khan has done everything to placate the Muslim fringe. “We are standing with Article 295C and will defend it,” said the PTI chief at a gathering of Muslim leaders in Islamabad a few weeks before the polls. The draconian provision stipulates the death penalty for any “imputation, insinuation or innuendo” against the prophet Muhammad. This law has been used to target and terrorize minorities; the vigilantes have murdered at least 69 people since 1990.
Imran Khan has also accepted the fundamentalist position on the Ahmadiyya community hook, line, and sinker. The Ahmadiyyas are regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims because the former do not believe that the Prophet Mohammed was the final prophet. This is the reason that British Ahmadiyyas are fearful of violent persecution of their brethren in Pakistan with his victory.
In a nutshell, Khan is everything that the mullah-military alliance wants the Pakistani prime minister to be. At the same time, it may be an exaggeration to say that he is or will be a mere puppet in the hands of the army, for he is a popular figure in the country. Yet, it will be very difficult for him to disregard the diktats of the deep state. But that difficulty will arise only if he is unwilling to pursue the jihadist agenda; and at present there is nothing to suggest his unwillingness on this count.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.