Imran Khan; The Darling of Pak Army

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On 25th July Pakistan with the help of its army elected Imran Khan as their new PM. Surprisingly, this is only the second time, that a peaceful democratic transition, albeit with the backing of the army, has taken place as the country has been under military rule for much of its independent history,

Fortunately, our leadership in 1947 was visionary enough to ensure continuity otherwise probably, we would also have been having a similar fate.

The elections in Pakistan were contested on almost similar issues as they are contested in India; economy, corruption, Kashmir and terrorism.

While their military generals were hesitant to retake power themselves — risking U.S. and international sanctions that could jeopardize their economic interests, however, appeared determined to keep former prime minister Nawaz Sharif out of politics.

And for that, they crossed all limits.

They intimidated media so as to block any coverage of Nawaz Sharif’s party, they encouraged Hafiz Sayeed’s family members to contest elections, removed the ban on Sunni extremist party Tehrik E Pakistan the erstwhile Sipahi e Sahaba, and openly supported Imran Khan’s party, deployed almost 3,71000 troops to guard the election booths and carried the polling staff and the ballot boxes.

Imran Khan the new darling boy of the army who is trying to position himself as the Modi of Pakistan, is being expected by Pakis to deliver as Modi has done in India.

Whether he would be able to deliver or not is a matter of speculation and we may have difference of perception.

However, the assumptions and speculations must have some basis and hence it is important that we must analyse Imran’s competencies and the current situation before making any such speculation.

None can doubt Imran Khan’s determination, his zeal and his focused approach that has brought him to this level. Once he talked of Changing Pakistan but in the bargain, he himself got changed and is now a supporter of Taliban and infamous Blasphemy law of Pakistan.

However, he has no administrative experience except that of handling 11 lads of his cricket team. He has not even worked as a CM of a state. So, we do not even know whether he has administrative acumenship or not. His party PTI is in power in only one small state and has not delivered to boast anything about. Hence, this is, in my opinion, a BIG handicap that he has. To perform at this level, without administrative experience and acumenship, is going to be an uphill task.

Corruption is a big issue in Pakistan. It failed to improve its Corruption Performance Index (CPI) 2016 score. Pakistan’s rank has actually fallen from 116 to 117. India and China have been ranked 81 and 77 on the list, respectively.

Pakistan has a heavy public debt — 70 percent of GDP — along with a yawning fiscal deficit. The economy grew by 5.8 percent during 2017-18, missing a government target by two percent,

The rupee has been devalued three times since December, and the foreign currency reserves is depleting.

There is a speculation that Govt may soon have to approach the IMF asking for more money, less than two years after the last bailout. Pakistan is plagued by power shortages and is fast running out of water. USA has already warned IMF not to offer any bailout package to Pakistan as it fears that the same will be offered to China as a repayment of loan for the CPEC Project.

High birth rates have also made it hard to consolidate social and economic gains.

Pakistan faces acute power shortages and is itself trapped in a web of Homegrown Terrorism.

So, expecting to resolve problems of a Country, plagued with corruption, power shortages and poor economy from a LEADER who has NO ADMINISTRATIVE EXPERIENCE, is in my opinion unrealistic and a big ask.

And, therefore, I have my doubts that he would be able to achieve anything substantial.

As regards, India, the implications are well known and India has learnt to live with it.

Imran Khan would probably do the same what Modiji did to isolate Pakistan. That is, he may go on an extensive world tour particularly to West Asian countries, to bring back Kashmir issue to prominence. He might have garnered some support from west being from Oxford University but for his support to Jehadis and blasphemy laws, it is unlikely that he may be able to gain much.

The word going round in Pakistan is if the United States and North Korea can return from the brink of a nuclear flashpoint, there is no reason why Pakistan and India cannot do the same, beginning with a TIME BOUND dialogue on Kashmir whose people have resisted and rejected Indian occupation.

Pakistan army, meanwhile, will do whatever possible to increase the level of terrorism in Kashmir and project it as a homegrown rebellion against the Indian occupation force. The aim is to compel the world to look into this dispute. So, the Stone pelting etc may increase.

However, as the honeymoon period of the Govt gets over, the people may start getting restless and opposition will not miss the opportunity, as the Govt would not be able to deliver anything substantial, unlike Modi. The compulsions of Pakistan are likely to pull him apart.

All that Imran can do is sabre rattling against India on Kashmir.

Major structural reforms on the lines of Demonetisation, GST, RERA, Bankruptcy code, Benami property act etc would be in my opinion be difficult for this Pak Govt to bring, because it has a sizeable opposition in Parliament and also in the major state; Punjab. And we Indians know it better what the Opposition can do with the reforms.

As the frustration grows, Imran Khan and his supporters will try and push the polity more towards fundamentalism which may bring more chaos and anarchy. Meanwhile, Pakistan itself may face many terror attacks.

All this can have an impact on India, particularly, if we have a weak Govt in India post-2019 elections. Because we have no dearth of Hafiz Sayeed kind of characters here in India.

Any weak Govt, in India, will embolden these kinds of characters here. This may lead to communal situation worsening.

So, to avoid the above, India must elect a strong and able Govt in 2019.

Second, Be prepared to deal with a belligerent Imran going hyper over Kashmir. He has already many a time stated that Taliban and Jehadis are fighting a Holy war in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

So, in my view, it is unlikely that Imran Khan would be able to achieve anything substantial for Pakistan, yes, Pakistan’s nuisance value will continue to hassle India.

Hence, talks with Pakistan must remain as distant from our minds as possible and we must avoid getting into this trap of TALKS till Pakistan gives up Terrorism.

 

Army Tales- a collection of short stories by Lt. Col Neerav Bhatnagar. You can buy his book on Amazon.