Great Imran Khan interview with Karan Thapar

By Omar Ali

I am delighted to see Imran Khan’s interview. Its a very good interview (transcript here as well: It may be backpedalled very soon by Shireen Mazari and company..but if he sticks to these views with equal determination IN Pakistan, then the ISI-Paknationalist crowd (who have been excited by him recently, no doubt about it, look it up) will run away from him.
I will admit that I thought when push comes to shove, he will edge closer to the Shireen Mazari faction, not closer to the liberal faction. Lets see, maybe I was wrong. Either way, the excitement in the IK fans will split..his current rise is fueled by very disparate groups. When he starts committing, he will have to alienate some factions. It will be hard to make all of them happy. In THIS interview, he is clearly taking a very sensible line. If he sticks to it, I will become his supporter, but many others who are currently his vigorous supporters will no longer be with him.
The other problem that will invariably come up is that some part of his vision is unrealistic. He implies that he will deweaponise Pakistan and get rid of all militant groups. But armed groups are not disarmed by unarmed ones. He will have to use the army to do so. That part may turn out to be far nastier and harder than he seems to think. That remains one of my problems with Khan sahib. That he does not regard the Islamist jihadist network as a real force, with real supporters inside the deep state. He will be disabused of his notions I am afraid.
I will be happy to have been wrong about Khan sahib if he turns out to be a super-clever liberal who not only sticks to liberal ideas in power, but understands power so well that he manages to carry it off and disarm militants and get rid of their supporters in the state and use force where needed in a smart way and do all that while retaining the support of the Pakistani people. THAT will be wonderful and worth any humiliation as “an analyst who turned out to be wrong”.But my cynical side still thinks that he doesnt fully grasp (or even partly grasp) what the obstacles to such a course are likely to be..or that the “paknationalist” dream is itself a source of many of these problems and that any naive belief in Allama Iqbal, Jinnah and Pakistani nationalism is not compatible with the liberal vision he propounds here.
But good luck to him if this is what he is going to try….

btw, IK fans take note, the one possibility I am still avoiding is the one that he is so capable of double-talk that all this is a ruse. In some ways, I am more of an IK fan than most; I dont think he is flat-out lying.

some quotes from the interview:

… I am not only making a promise to the Indian people, I think I am making a promise to anyone. The biggest problem the United States faces, you know they worry about terrorism from Pakistani soil. Its not just India who is worried. If I cannot stop terrorism from Pakistani soil, I would rather not be the Prime Minister.

…Because I am the one who has received so much love in India. I grew up hating India because I grew up in Lahore and so there were so much massacres of 1947 and so much bloodshed and anger. But as I started touring India, I got such love and friendship there. All this disappeared. And then my closest friend who you also know, Vikram was Indian. So we became very close. So, as time passed I realised that we’ve so much similar history, culture compared to the western countries. We have so much in common. There is so much the people of two countries can benefit if we have civilised relationship.

Courtesy: BrownPundits

Imran’s self-serving journey – by Dr Aparna Pande

Pakistan: A Personal History

By Imran Khan

Bantam Press; Pp 390; Rs 995

Read this quote to a young Pakistani, and it would almost instinctively be identified as coming from the country’s Islamising military dictator, General Ziaul Haq: “Pakistan came into existence as a country because of Islam and the Islamic beliefs of its founders and citizens.” Ziaul Haq expressed the same thought but somewhat differently: “The ideology of Pakistan is Islam and only Islam. There should be no misunderstanding on this score. We should in all sincerity accept Islam as Pakistan’s basic ideology…otherwise…this country (will) be exposed to secular ideologies.” The first quote, however, comes from Pakistan’s latest media icon of ‘change’, Oxford-educated cricket legend Imran Khan who is finally gaining some traction in Pakistan’s treacherous political world after a fringe role for over 15 years.

Imran Khan’s personal memoir is replete with examples of how he represents a continuum in Pakistan’s non-secular establishment worldview while talking of change. Ziaul Haq’s fervent anti-secular admonishment quoted above was itself just an attempt to revive the religion-based nationalism introduced by an earlier military ruler, Field Marshal Ayub Khan. Ziaul Haq felt the secularists had gained ground in the aftermath of Pakistan’s division in 1971. His idiom of ‘change’, ‘accountability’ and disapproval for traditional politicians is uncannily similar to what Ayub Khan voiced in the 1960s and Imran Khan is articulating now.

Not to belabour the point, just compare the above quotes from Imran Khan and Ziaul Haq with this gem from Ayub Khan: “Such an ideology with us is obviously that of Islam. It was on that basis that we fought for and got Pakistan, but having got it, we failed to order our lives in accordance with it…The time has now come when we must…define this ideology in simple but modern terms and put it to the people, so that they can use it as a code of guidance.”

Imran Khan’s political views have obviously been shaped by the narrative of the military dictators under whom he grew up. He betrays an unusual tendency to believe popular conspiracy theories of the variety popularised by Pakistan’s hyper-nationalists, such as some groups of newspapers and the religious political parties, notably the Jamaat-e-Islami. He blames the Americans for most of what has gone wrong with Pakistan. The references to conspiracies starts almost at the beginning of the book with the mention of the assassination of the country’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, on page 23 and the ‘mysterious’ air crash that killed Ziaul Haq on pages 124-125. At a time when an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis believes that 9/11 was part of an American conspiracy to justify attacking Muslim lands, Imran Khan’s predilection for conspiracy theories, though dangerous, might reflect the populist mood of the country.

Like others before him Imran tries to create a pseudo-intellectual justification for his anti-Americanism. He draws a parallel between the British rule in the subcontinent and the lack of sovereignty of British India’s princely states with the current relationship between Pakistan and the US. Ironically, Ayub Khan, towards the end of his decade-long regime had called on the Americans to be Pakistan’s “friends, not masters” and Ziaul Haq had complained days before his death about the US not allowing him space to reap the benefits of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan as part of the same national narrative.

On page 48 after criticising Pakistan’s English-medium schooling — of which he was a recipient for decades — and tying it to a form of neo-colonialism, Imran Khan states that in other post-colonial countries like India the government imposed one core syllabus on the entire country. A little research would have told Khan that this assertion is not true — there are two federal level systems (ICSE and CBSE) and every state in India has its own state board of education. Also, instead of doing away with English education or English schooling, India has helped deepen it further in the last six decades and benefitted from it. In a country with many languages, the English language has proved to be a unifying, not divisive, element. But such factual quibbles have little value for the ideological paradigm Khan embraces. Narratives get votes, facts do not.

Continuing with what he perceives as the long-term adverse impact of colonialism, Imran Khan also asserts that this has prevented people from wearing their traditional dress (shalwar kameez) and they continue to wear western dress (pg 51). There is no effort at determining what percentage of Pakistanis actually wore shalwar kameez before the advent of colonial rule or after independence. Had it been undertaken, Imran Khan would have discovered that in most of what is Pakistan today, various forms of dress, including dhoti or lungi (loose loincloth), may have been more common than shalwar kameez.

Imran Khan does not even attempt an anthropological or sociological inquiry while making sweeping claims. Culture for him is skin deep and depends on outward displays — what we wear or the language we speak — and not on core values and traditions. There is also no attempt to answer an obvious question: If Imran Khan is really so against the English language and education why has he published his book in English using a British publisher in London and not in Urdu through a Pakistani one?

While talking about the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad Mr Khan’s views resonate the views of Pakistan’s foreign and security establishments — that the mujahideen were created and funded by the Americans for their foreign policy goals and Pakistan was an unwilling victim (pg 70). That Mr Khan sympathised with the mujahideen and their views is apparent from his referring to them as “idealists” fighting for a “romantic” reason and stating that “jihad is a noble cause (pg 70).” His admiration for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Osama bin Laden too is evident when he refers to them as people “fighting foreign occupiers” and “sacrificing a life of luxury” (pg 72). Like the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment, Mr Khan preferred the 1980s arrangement between the ISI and the CIA to the post-9/11 arrangement. “However, unlike Musharraf after 9/11, Zia never allowed the CIA to spread its network within Pakistan. It was the ISI who trained the militant groups, funded by the CIA.” Pakistan’s sovereignty, he seems to be arguing, was protected by Zia but sacrificed by Musharraf though how the country could retain complete independence by allowing a foreign intelligence agency’s massive covert operation on its soil remains unexplained.

After declaring Islam as the basis of Pakistani nationhood, Imran Khan ventures into some discussion of the faith. But the only two Muslim scholars mentioned in his book are Shah Waliullah and Muhammad Iqbal, one with violent sectarian revivalist views and the other a modern-educated Muslim exhorting Muslims to find a new path in an era of western domination. Imran Khan does not seem to know how Shah Waliullah contributed to sectarian division in South Asian Islam by his opposition to heresies and his calls for war against the Shias. For the Oxford-educated cricketer, Shah Waliullah’s views enable him to claim that just as the Mughal dynasty declined because it was “degenerative and bound to decay” all the democracies in the Muslim world today are “sham democracies” and are bound to fall (pg 79).

Playing to the Islamist-nationalist gallery in Pakistan, Imran Khan goes on to argue for an Islamic state and implementation of shariah as that is bound to ensure a just democratic welfare state (pp 80-81). A cursory reading of the 1953 report by the Justice Munir Commission would have enlightened Khan on the problems of defining Islam for purposes of governance — a point that Ziaul Haq also occasionally cited as reason for his inability to complete Pakistan’s Islamisation. “Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulema [people of knowledge],” the Munir Commission pointed out, “need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulema, we remain Muslims according to the view of that aalim [learned scholar] but kafirs [infidels] according to the definition of everyone else.”

Although Imran Khan does not like him, his book is remarkably similar to the one by General Pervez Musharraf. Both books have a surfeit of self-praise. Musharraf attempted to portray himself as the school bully turned army commando turned self-proclaimed saviour of Pakistan. Imran Khan comes out as someone who lived a hedonistic lifestyle all his life but is now trying to make up for it. His love for his mother, pride in family roots, love for cricket and constant quotations from Iqbal seem all too contrived. His attempt to show how he may not have been an observant Muslim in his youth but has become one in later years is too self-serving.

Throughout the book Imran Khan is not only disparaging about Pakistan’s politicians but also about the field of politics (pg 82). One wonders how he plans to do well in a field that he hates so much. One of his many criticisms of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif is that these individuals did not have enough political and administrative experience before they entered office and hence they were bound to fail. But then he acknowledges that he does not have any experience in politics but it would be akin to swimming where after jumping in he learnt on the job (pg 186). If that is the case then why could not others too learn on the job and do equally well, if not better? And if it is not possible to learn on the job and prior experience is a must, how would Imran Khan do better?

The reviewer is a Research Fellow at Hudson Institute, Washington DC. Her book, Explaining Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: Escaping India, was published in April 2011

Courtesy: Daily Times\11\14\story_14-11-2011_pg3_4


Soothsayers’ nightmare

By Abbas Nasir

POLITICIANS are akin to bravado but, with scheduled elections in Pakistan still some 15 months away, can commentators predict the results with certainty?

Imran Khan`s Lahore rally forced many of us to acknowledge that he needed to be taken seriously. For, till he assembled that huge, and more significantly, diverse crowd, he was seen as no more than a joke, even if couched in all seriousness. It can also be said that many of us crave change but also carry within us the fear of ending up `out of the pan into the fire` as our desire hinges on the negative, on what we think we don`t want, rather than an embrace of a well-founded promise.

Regardless, some have already started to hail Imran Khan as the man destined next to rule our land.

Frankly, personally one doesn`t care who wins at the hustings as long as the exercise is free and fair with the national security establishment not striving for a `positive` outcome. All such efforts in the past have resulted in disaster.

But our establishment`s planners and handlers have often given the impression they`d like to be certified insane by Einstein because they keep repeating their follies in the hope of a different result all the time. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

Hasan Nasir: ‘We, who were murdered in the darkest lanes’ (Ham jo tareek rahon mey maarey gay)

Comrade Hasan Nasir Shaheed


November 13, marks the death anniversary of Hasan Nasir Shaheed who was succumbed to death in infamous Lahore Fort’s chamber of horrors in 1960 by Pakistani state. Scion of an aristocratic family of Hyderabad, Deccan, Hasan Nasir was a student at the Cambridge University in England, when he came under the influence of the communist party, which had a vibrant presence in the academia of UK during the post WW II period. …

… The Lahore Fort was a symbol of terror in Pakistan at that time. This symbol of Mughal majesty had been turned into a draconian detention and investigation center during the period of British colonialism. The ‘criminals’ of the independence movement were often detained in the Fort for questioning through questionable means. After 1947, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took over the command of the Lahore Fort. After the ban on the Communist Party along with its sister organizations, and the military coup of 1958, the Lahore Fort was often used to interrogate leftist political activists.

After Hasan Nasir’s murder his mangled body was hastily buried by the police…..

Here’s elegy of Faiz Sahab written in 1961 for Hasan Nasir:

Naagahaan aaj merey taar-e-nazar se kat kar

tukrey-tukrey huey aafaaq pe khursheed-o-qamar

ab kisee samt andheraa na ujaalaa hogaa

bujh gayee dil ki tarah raah-e-wafaa mere baad

dosto! qaafla-e-dard ka ab kyaa hogaa

ab koi aur karey parwarish-e-gulshan-e-gham

dosto khatm hui deeda-e-tar ki shabnam

tham gayaa shor-e-junoon khatm hui baarish-e-sang

khaak-e-rah aaj liye hai lab-e-dildaar ka rang

koo-e-jaanaan men khulaa mere lahoo ka parcham

dekhiye detey hain kis-kis ko sadaa merey baad

kaun hota hai hareef-e-mai mard afgan-e-ishq

hai mukarrar lab-e-saaqee pe jilaa merey baad

Read more » LUBP
ee more »

Is Pakistani Military looking for a new Civilian Partner?

By Khalid Hashmani

The South Asia Studies Program of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) arranged a discussion with prominent Pakistani journalist and editor-in-chief of “The Friday Times” Mr. Najam Sethi on Monday, November 7, 2011. The former Pakistani ambassador Touqir Hussain, who is a senior Pakistan fellow at SAIS, moderated the discussion. The session was titled “Tail Wags the Dog: US-Pak Relations and Internal Dynamics of Pakistan”. Mr. Sethi impressed audience with his wit and some amusing stories about Pakistan. It appeared that he was trying to leave the message that Pakistan’s two main political parties PPP and PML-N are now outdated and that Mr. Imran Khan is now the darling of the Pakistan military and Media.

US and Pakistan Relations

Mr. Touqir Hussain began the discussion by telling the Americans in audience that “You are in conflict with someone, whose help you need!” He said that “media” and “military” are the most powerful players in determining what happens next in Pakistan.

Najam Sethi started his remarks by saying that he was in the United States to “recharge his batteries” but never explained what he meant by that. He said that four years back, although Americans thought Musharraf as a good friend, they concluded that to be more effective Pakistan needed a government that had both civilian and military participation. Since Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif were old adversaries, PPP was encouraged to be that civilian partner with Musharraf. However, the partnership between PPP and Musharraf could not be sustained because PPP viewed Mr. Musharraf as one of the murderer of Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf could never trust PPP.

After the success of the Osama Bin Laden operation, U.S. asked the Pakistani government if they would like to also take credit for the success of mission and join in a joint statement. Mr. Sethi said that Zardari was very keen to join in that joint statement that Pakistanis and in the support of this argument referred to an article published in the Washington Post newspaper under the name of Asif Zardari. Then very quickly, Mr. Sethi added that President Zardari really did not write that article as he could not even write five paragraphs straight, It was written by the current Ambassador of Pakistan to USA, Mr. Haqqani.

On the question of the China card that Pakistan could play, Mr. Sethi said that is an over blown notion since the relationship so far has not achieved the advertised results. For one thing, the cheap imports of small goods from China have all but destroyed the small industry in Pakistan. For another, the Chinese are reluctant to extend credit facilities. He noted sarcastically that yet that view of some in Pakistan is that the Chinese should not be criticized because they can do no wrong.

While the civilian government was ready to quickly patch up the Raymond Davis case based on the excuse of diplomatic immunity, the military through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Punjab government vetoed that idea initially. The ambassador of Pakistan was saying something else and the Foreign Ministry was saying something else. By taking such actions, Pakistan Military had discredited the civilian government and elevated themselves in the eye of public, which is largely become anti-American. Military is not doing anything to discourage anti-Americanism in Pakistan.

Once people disagreed were called “Indian Agents” now if you disagree, you are labeled as “American agent”. Mr. Sethi added that calling someone an “American agent” in Pakistan has become an invitation to be killed.

When American announced the decision to leave Afghanistan and gave a withdrawal schedule, Pakistan Military has started to prepare for the post-withdrawal era. They seem to have concluded that they Military and Pakistan can survive without much US Aid through remittance of Pakistanis working overseas and continued IMF support. The Pakistani establishment thinks Al-Qaida and Massood group of Taliban are bad and can to be attacked, but the Haqqani wing of Taliban are considered good and need to be taken in confidence.

The Raymond Davis situation is when Pakistan military asserted that relationship between Pakistan and the US had to be redefined.

Mr. Sethi said that Pakistan military has won. They have the USA where they want it to be. America is now saying that Pakistan will have a central role in the development of Afghanistan. Mr. Sethi referred to a recent statement of US Secretary of State Clinton that Pakistan will have a “central” role including training some Afghani police and defense services units.

Is Pakistan Military looking for a new Civilian Partner?

At each and every crucial step, the military has fought with their current civilian partner (PPP) and is in no mood to let go their control of strategic decision-making process.

One year into its rule and encouraged by the USA, PPP announced that the civilian government was going to take control of ISI. A swift negative reaction from Pakistan military made PPP to back down from that decision within few hours. Citing another example of Pakistan Military’s rebuff to PPP, Mr. Sethi said that the Military went out of its way to criticize certain cosmetic language in the Kerry-Lugar bill. Sethi added that ordinarily, such clauses would not raise much reaction. However, the intensity with which Pakistan military criticized was very unusual and was aimed to send a message to both the civilian government and the USA that any agreement initialed by the civilian government must receive prior approval of the Pakistan military.

Mr. Sethi gave the example of Zardari’s initial attempt to have friendlier relations with India. As General Musharraf had begun the process of normalizing relations with India, President Zardari thought that the military still supports that view. When Zardari started showing warmth towards India proposing more concrete steps, he was cut to size as military told him that as he did not know much in this area, he better not cross certain boundaries.

There was a time when serious rumors were encouraged that PPP is not delivering goods so judiciary and military were going to jointly topple it. However, for some reason Army withdrew that support and later the judiciary also backed out. Imran Khan even talked about this in a TV interview so he may have been privy to that plan.

The indications are that the military does not like Nawaz Sharif for the following reasons:

1. He wants to normalize relations with India more than what they feel would be appropriate.  2. Wants military budget to be open to public.  3. Wants military to be under civilian control.

Zardari has realized that to complete the full term of his office, he and PPP have to accept the supremacy of military. Thus, in essence, PPP has become the party of the establishment. Yet, many of the cases of politicians being taken by the Pakistan judiciary seem to be against PPP and their allies.

Mr. Sethi reiterated that on key decisions, military calls the shots. Citing an example that some Media members claiming that they have more than 150 tapes showing atrocities of Taliban but they cannot show them for fear of reprisals by extremists. They went to the military to seek their permission. The military neither encouraged nor discouraged this. Later on, when the media decided not to show those tapes, the messages were sent to them that it was a right decision. He noted that political leaders are under attack day and night, but media cannot dare to criticize religious leaders and leaders of some sectarian groups such as MQM. The rule for criticizing the military is that it is not desirable to engage in any criticism.

Zardari has to go and Nawaz Sharif is not acceptable so they are ushering second son of Punjab Imran Khan. The D-Day for the change is arriving as politicians have lost credibility in the eyes of people.

Answering a question that when there is so many things going wrong, what people have to say (implying the elections) rather than rumors of corrective actions to be orchestrated by military and judiciary, Mr. Sethi said that the politicians in Pakistan are reflective what people say and do.

Military prefers a good “indirect” control rather than “direct” control. They have mastered the art of exercising indirect control. Although they want to make all strategic decisions.

The scenario that appears to be panning out is that there will be three main groups contesting the next elections (PPP, PML-N, and Imran Khan). PPP has traditional support of agriculturists mostly in Sindh but some in Punjab, Balochistan and its alliance with ANP and MQM. Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League has support in the Punjab heartland. Imran Khan, who is very vocal against American drone attacks and working with religious parties and younger urban voters, has been gaining popularity in Punjab and religious parties. Media is also supporting Imran Khan. In a close election and an era of intimidation, few thousands of religious voters in each constituency can make a big difference in winning or loosing that constituency.

Continue reading Is Pakistani Military looking for a new Civilian Partner?

Hahahahha Dewany ka khwab: When he will come into power they will inform him about the rules he has to follow!

Army, ISI will be under me if I’m the PM: Imran Khan

Courtesy » IBN Live » CNN » YouTube

The Jamat-e-Islami, and rape

A viral video of Ameer Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Munawwar Hassan defending the silence over the rape of women and condoning imprisonment of female rape victims if they fail to produce four male witnesses in accordance with the Hudood Ordinance, has deeply outraged many sane people in Pakistan.

According to Hassan, if a woman cannot produce four male witnesses present at the time of her rape, she be imprisoned based on Hudood Ordinance and Shariah Law. This, he claims is in the best interest of women who are raped so if she fails to produce the witnesses she ought to refrain from filing an FIR altogether.

According to Hassan, somehow, it is in the best interest of the society for a woman to stay silent after being raped, while the perpetrator roams free. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune Blogs