Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Aug 2018 10:45:46

PAKISTAN is on the threshold of a new regime as Mr. Imran Khan takes over as new Prime Minister, having cornered 176 votes in National Assembly as against 96 votes won by Pakistan Muslim League (N) candidate. This development, of course, was a foregone conclusion, at which India has had every reason to look in a positive light, let alone the impression that Mr. Imran Khan has been propped up by the Pakistani military. Going by Mr. Imran Khan’s word in his speech a few days ago, he appears to be willing to take a fresh look at Pakistan’s bilateral relations with India. To that extent, there is a marginal hope that there could be some sensible dialogue between the two countries. If this hope really fructifies, then there could be some moving forward together by India and Pakistan towards resolution of some of the ticklish issues .


Of course, in his speech, Mr. Khan did refer to Kashmir as the only major vexed issue with India. He did suggest talks, an idea to which India might not be averse. Yet, there is lurking apprehension in India that Mr. Imran Khan may not be free enough to consider India’s point of view on Kashmir. Because every Pakistani ruler has rejected the Indian point of view on Kashmir, the issue has continued to dog the two estranged neighbours for the past seventy-plus years. But if Mr. Imran Khan keeps an open mind, then some solution can emerge.


This proviso, of course, is the actual gray area that India must tread across. Some sections of Indian opinion-makers expect Mr. Imran Khan to opt for a no-hostility approach. If this really happens, then India can find at least a toe-hold on which to perch itself and pitch for some sensible communication with the Imran Khan regime.

Even as Mr. Khan prepares to play his new political role as Prime Minister, he will have the backing of a section of Pakistani intellectuals who are out to analyse Pakistan’s ills in a dispassionate manner without the frills and spoils of ideology. This section has been writing books and articles taking a critical look at what may be ailing Pakistan. This section has come to a conclusion that most ills of Pakistan stem from corrupt politicians who filled their pockets even at the cost of the country’s ultimate good. In his book ‘My Pakistan’, Mr. Imran Khan, too, talks a more or less similar language. For India, this is no mean a development to be hopeful about.


No matter all this, as another section of Indian opinion-makers feels, Mr. Khan will be an equally hard nut to crack since he would never be able to wriggle out of the influence of the military. Yet, even as India grieves about the loss of Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, it can take a leaf out of the late Prime Minister’s book and try to open a sensible communication with Mr. Imran Khan. India need not go to the extent of Lahore bus trip, for example, but it can certainly try to engage Pakistan’s new Prime Minister in a creative and positive way. It may take time, but it may be the only channel open to India for a sincere dialogue.

One most optimistic facet of Mr. Khan is that he has seen the harmonious side of international relations as one of the world’s top cricketers. If that mood of his is still alive in him, then a fruitful engagement with him can be expected. Perhaps, Mr. Khan may need certain peace on the border for his domestic stability. In that endeavour, a dialogue with India may help him.