Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Jul 2018 12:11:17

NO MATTER his tone of conciliation in his televised address to the nation, Pakistan’s emerging leader Mr. Imran Khan has shown clearly that he is not going to turn away from the Kashmir rhetoric which his country has pursued for the past seventy-plus years. He might have said also that if India took one step toward dialogue, Pakistan would take two. Yet, given his assertion that Pakistan considers Kashmir as the main issue between the two countries, it is obvious that India has to continue asserting the rightness of its stand despite the regime-change in the neighbourhood. Obviously, Mr. Imran Khan would continue the policy of harassment of India on Kashmir, if he becomes Prime Minister. India, thus, has every reason to watch Mr. Imran Khan’s early moves with certain amount of skepticism -- and also caution.

Internally for Pakistan, the emergence of Mr. Imran Khan may indicate an onset of a rather sober element in the Government, thanks to his being an international cricket legend and a globally accepted and loved personality for many reasons. No matter the details of his personal life, there are countless people around the world to appreciate Mr. Imran Khan’s personality and capability. They would hope, naturally, that he would raise the level of Pakistan’s internal and international discourse and take his nation forward on the path of economic recovery and socio-political maturity.

Even though he is generally described as a stooge of the Pakistani Army and an ally of the Islamic clergy, Mr. Imran Khan’s speech did not betray those elements overtly and overly. Much to the contrary, he appeared more geared towards a people-oriented governance, even though he might be using that only as a facade. On the surface, at least, he appeared to be a sober element that may look for dialogue internally and internationally. To that extent, India will have to look for a slit in Pakistan’s position through which to initiate a process of sensible conversation. Though some in India would never agree with this premise, India will naturally keep working for some kind of a common platform so that India and Pakistan at least start sitting together for sensible discussion if not a dialogue in strict terms.

The very acknowledgement by Mr. Imran Khan that Pakistani economy is at its worst since the nation’s birth, indicates a certain level of readiness to introduce appropriate changes in the country’s internal systems so that the world can have honourable connect with the country’s economic concerns. That is one ray of hope that under Mr. Imran Khan, Pakistan may become a more responsible member of the international community, unlike the massive failure on this count on part of the earlier regimes. Of course, the internal dynamics of Pakistan is quite complicated, thanks to the dominance of the military and the mullahs.

Yet, if Mr. Imran Khan is able to maintain certain sobriety in his political narrative despite the two constraints, there could be a greater scope of international cooperation between Pakistan and the world. Mr. Imran Khan has already outlined his foreign policy considerations, though they look so partisan and so caparisoned by historical limitations. Despite all that, it must be admitted that Mr. Imran Khan has ushered in a more sane and sober element to the top of the ruling pyramid in the country whose elite has clung to a ‘client-State’ status all these years, willing to offer the country for sale to international vested interests -- like the United States or China, to name just two.

If the Pakistani Army starts dominating the political narrative once again, as is being suspected by many around the world, then Pakistan would go for a dangerous tailspin. Mr. Imran Khan may be realising this at least within himself. Much would depend upon how he handles the political business if the Army starts asserting itself. But it may be said that this may be one of the last chances for Pakistan to resurrect itself from the evil influences of the military and the mullahs. And for that turn, Mr. Imran Khan may be the much-needed talisman.