Imran Khan: Window of opportunity for Kashmir

Rising Kashmir

Imran Khan: Window of opportunity for Kashmir

September 12, 2018

The new Premier focusses on minimizing non-state actors and extremist voices in his country which can have a positive impact in Kashmir

Khurram Wani

The winning captain raised the world championship cup of 1992 cricket tournament on 25th March and dedicated it to the cancer hospital which was being built by him in the memory of his mother who had died of the same disease. It would be charity based, where poor would be given priority and free treatment.

The lifter of the cup was Imran Khan, the captain of Pakistan world cup team, who had been tirelessly working for a social cause and had dedicated a considerable amount of his resources towards the project apart from making the team go through rigorous training sessions for the cup.

Glimpse of Imran

He started playing cricket at the age of 13 in Pakistan. For his college, Imran was send to Worcestershire, England. Apart from excelling in his academics during college days, he played good cricket as well and was a part of his college team. He made his international debut in Birmingham, England, at the age 18 in the year 1971.

Imran had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Therefore he continued his education despite playing cricket on an international level which was giving him lot of popularity and wealth. He graduated with honours degree in History, Philosophy and Economics from Kable College, Oxford, in 1975.

Imran’s cricket journey ended with the world cup in 1992. In the finals he played with lot of patience, focus and confidence after the opening order had collapsed while batting first. He led the way from the front and performed brilliantly while carrying the extra responsibility on his shoulders as the captain of the team. He precisely manifested characteristics of a strong leader, fighter and a focused mind which had a mission.

He enjoyed a glamorous cricketing career, and the same pattern was found in his personal life as well. After a few high profile affairs he finally settled down with Jemima Goldsmith in 1995. She belonged to the elitist society with immense wealth. Jemima’s family was part of the who’s who of the elite group across the globe.

After the marriage the couple settled down in Pakistan. Around the same time Imran was exploring Sufism, which gave his life a deeper meaning and directed him towards a mission, which was to work on his own self and his country.

An intellectual mind with good exposure, education and social consciousness driven by Sufism, lead him into politics. In 1996, he formed his own political party, Tehreek-e-Insaaf and the decision proved to be extremely difficult, challenging, dangerous, as all these situations describe Pakistani politics. It became very difficult for him to breakthrough in politics though he enjoyed a great public image.

Meanwhile, in 2004 Jemima and Imran got divorced. Jemima wanted both of them to shift back to England where they could lead a luxurious, peaceful and comfortable life,away from extremism, war and corrupt political system.But he refused to go so that he could stay back and serve his country.

Imran in this process exhibited characteristics of a person who upholds dignity and meaningful life more than the luxurious comforts and company of rich and powerful. He got divorced at a time when everyone was writing him off and had an uncertain career in politics. But all this for an idea of a great Pakistan, which he wanted to help in building.

Hence he continued his fight for changing Pakistan and stood by his centrist ideas and fought corruption in the state and openly promoted his rational and moderate ideas about politics and Islam. He continued his fight and in 2013 elections his party got the second highest votes.

As he was getting ready for 2018 elections, out of blue a surprising news surfaced about Imran’s proposal to a religious woman who is revered as a saint in her region. He married BushraBibi in February 2018, who later was found out was his spiritual mentor as well. This again shows that Imran’s decisions are not about pleasing anyone or upkeeping his image. Instead it reflects his strong decision making and confident personality.

Meanwhile, in politics, growing corruption, increasing debt, extremism, lack of confidence in political leadership, missing vision, passion and intellect all had created vacuum in Pakistan for new leadership which lead to his victory in 2018 elections.

Why did Imran win?

Everyone in Pakistan knew the fact about country falling into the ditch with so much corruption and with ever increasing debt. No strong and articulate leader to represent the country on international platform was making the country more isolated. Though the main concern surely must have been the increasing debt which is a sign of failed system and chaos within the borders.

And as there are no free lunches, the agencies and the intellectual class knew there would be a payback time which might lead to selling of institutions to foreign powers and surrendering of their authority in their own land to outsiders leading to a politics of listening to foreign dictations.

Zardari had already proven non effective and his party under Bilawallacked leadership and the man himself was known as Mr.10% due to his demands of corruption.

Simultaneously, the assets which Nawaz owns worldwide are no secret now. And Nawaz’s speeches and ideas when studied and analysed by the intellectual groups and agencies, who are the opinion makers of the community, proved shallow and aimless.

His decisions had left the country in debts, with weakening foreign policy and no respect on international stage where as the arch rival, India, was gaining on all fronts.

At the same time Pakistani intelligence which is regarded as one of the finest in the world due its long tryst with war and foreign powers, is widely known as a major player in all the power corridors of Pakistan along with another major institution of army. The duo is most powerful influencers of any political outcome.

In around 70 years of the existence of the country, there have hardly been any democratically elected governments, which were again under the deep influence of the duo, controlling the government, when not directly ruling the country.

Weak institutions marred by corruption and a strong domination of mullah military regime and inefficient politicians made the country go to dogs. No wonder that even the ruling class threw their weight behind Imran in a bid to save the country. It often seems that what Pakistan is emerging from, India is falling into.

Whether the elections were manipulated or Imran’s win was a direct result of people’s confidence in him, the results surprised the whole world. The surprise was not as much of Imran winning the election, it was extremist winning no seat. A moderate and intelligent man in power and zero acceptance of extremism. A clear message to all the groups that there is no space for them in mainstream anymore.

The election showed the Pakistan population was moderate and only a small portion of people followed extremist ideology where as their neighbouring country had started taking after them, turning the tables around.

Snatching power from radicals and non-state actors had become very important in view of its all season partner China as well which could be understood from the fact that china in its Muslim dominated area of Xingchang has started schools for de radicalizing Muslim population. So this problem was big and serious and could interfere in the implementation of new foreign policies and economic growth through projects like CPEC.

What Imran means for Pakistan

During last year, changes in Saudi politics was an indication to the whole world, that it is do or die time for the whole Islamic world. There was a need of strong change to save the country. Same was reflected in Pakistan.

Imran’s depth of mind is better understood by the overwhelming support of the best of the civil society in Pakistan. He is moderately religious and centrist in his ideas with seemingly rational and honest approach which became more visible through his support to demilitarize certain areas of NWFP, targetingcorruption and regionalism with a domination of the West Punjab on cost of the rest of the country.

His rational reasoning on why Taliban should be included in the peace process in Afghanistan again manifest his historical knowledge and a rational approach that is not based in an inherent insecurity or a desire to please the West.

He strongly mentions Afghani dignity which has stopped any one right from Alexander the great to Soviet to America from ruling them. He often insists that it is their value system and not the religion which makes them want to solve their own issues on their own terms rather than being dictated to. Only a man of nuanced understanding can admit it without fearing criticism.

His rational understanding of religion and of the administrative system is better understood from his winning speech. His brave, moderate and a historian mind made him compare the justice system of the current western civilization with golden era of Islamic world, which is not an easy job to do in a religious minded country.

To say the simple truth and show mirror to people is not politically 100 percent right, but shows his seriousness and mission driven mind which will not be there to please people but means work.

His message of justice and equality is not easy, especially in a country where radical religiosity has been a norm. In his opening speech, he gave example of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Stressing that no one is above law, or for that matter narrating the story of Ali (AS) when he himself was the Khalifha, lost a case to Jew when presented in front of the judge.

Imran’s cancellation of all the foreign trips for first three months is again a sign of his immense exposure unlike his neighbouring prime minister who stays in his country the least! His cancellation of treatments to high officials and ministers in order to reduce expenditures of the country are signs that Imran wants to build a robust and approachable system.

He has asked people to work more and invoked their emotional sentiments towards the country and religion so as to make a robust internal system and develop a good and progressive economy.

He has invoked integrity and dignity of Pakistani people when he posed a question to his followers whether they would like to see their head of the state to beg for money from international banks or foreign countries. He seems to be man governed by dignity in his personal and professional life.

He has chosen a panel of economic advisors, most of them are non-political people and are university professors saying a no to political appointments, nepotism or favouritism.

On international front Imran is brave enough to support Iran in its nuclear deal which again shows clarity of his ideas and vision and signifies awareness about international politics and different group of alliances.

Though there will be lot of problems and issues to be solved coming from extremist groups but there is a hope that the new government over a period of time with honest approach will be able to solve radical issues through experience and analysis and in response will create good programs and policies to counter such ideologies.

What Imran means for Kashmir

Imran focusses on minimizing non-state actors and extremist voices in his country which can have a positive impact in Kashmir. We can expect less chances of proxy war with the Indian state. This can generate a pressure for dialogue to solve the issue and may bring moderate voices like Mirwaiz into forefront especially with the defeat of hardliners in Pakistani elections.

Pakistan government has announced that their proposal on Kashmir should be ready soon which is expected to be an accepting solution to both sides. Imran would like to make his proposal to be fulfilled as that has been observed as his pattern of mind and actions, as he takes time to form his decisions and when done after elaborate study are based on rationality and justice.

Pakistan government should very well keep Indian state’s limitation and national pride into consideration and therefore will not be expected to have a demand which will ask for full integration of Kashmir with Pakistan. Probably it would be an improvised form of Musharraf’s 4 point formula or might be suggestion towards a merging of both Kashmir and letting them emerge as a free nation where in Gilgit-Baltistan can be integrated with Pakistan and Jammu and Ladakh can integrate with India.

And Indian state is likely to accept the proposal as China and Pakistan are ready to put pressure to get the conflict resolved as it is in economic interest of China as well to have a stable and peaceful Pakistan. And adding to that there is a strong block emerging in this region which consists of China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Qatar which is opposing America and its allies like India.

As Kashmir issue has got international recognition especially through the recent UN report about Human Right abuses happening in Kashmir, it has made the case stronger for reaction on international platform which will be seen as opportunity of political success by the upcoming rival block. India is seen as a state causing immense human right violations and its refusal to give Kashmiri people democratic forms of choosing their destiny is a strong rallying point.

Putting all aspects into consideration, hoping the process should start with immediate demilitarization on both the sides of Kashmir on the humanitarian basis till a permanent solution is implemented.

Meanwhile, the movement in Kashmir led by Hurriyat and other actors should understand that it is the social conditions internally in Pakistan which dominated politics and not petty vote bank politics of raking up Kashmir or the sloganeering of Islam.

So, we should not turn blind eye to our growing social evils in our society like corruption, domestic violence, gender inequality, drug addiction, intolerance towards different religions and regions and a failed justice system. The local political players should push to expedite the process and be willing to accept the changes rather than being adamant on ideals.

People involved in politics should concentrate more on livelihood, equality and justice and delivery. Hurriyat workers, mohalla presidents, imams, student leaders and youth need to expand their understanding of politics to include everyday politics. A strong value system, creates a strong society which can fight externally on its own without outside help.

Inviting Kashmiri Pandits back through an organized and visible campaign is the most important task for Kashmiri leadership to make our society plural and the struggle based on dignity and humanity not on radical extremism that somehow seems to leave Pakistan with Imran’s entry but is plaguing India with Modi’s strong hold.

Accepting what went wrong is the beginning of a new change in a nation. Let’s all work towards this new beginning with a hope the Imran plays as a proactive change agent for his country and the region in general.