Pak Army, ISI will be kept under check: Imran Khan

Imran Khan said that if he becomes the Prime Minister after the next election, he would press for civilian supremacy over the Army.

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2011, 15:56 PM IST

Islamabad: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran
Khan has said he will insist on civilian supremacy over
Pakistan`s powerful military if his party comes to power and
would rather resign if the Army and the ISI did not function
under him if he becomes Prime Minister.

Days after his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party stunned its
opponents by drawing a mammoth crowd during a rally in Lahore,
Khan said that if he becomes the Prime Minister after the next
election, he would press for civilian supremacy over the Army
and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency so that he could
implement his agenda.

"Unless I can implement my agenda which means I take
responsibility for everything that`s happening in Pakistan, it
means that the Army is under me, it means the ISI can do
nothing unless it reports to me, it means that the Army`s
budget is audited by a civilian set-up, it means I take
responsibility for anything that`s happening outside my
country, it means I take responsibility that no terrorism will
take place from Pakistani soil otherwise, I would resign,"
he said in an interview.

58-year-old Khan was responding to a question on whether
he would challenge army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the
Corps Commanders and insists on civilian supremacy.
Asked specifically if he would be Gen Kayani`s boss if he
became the premier, Khan replied: "100 per cent. I have never,
ever been controlled by anyone. (If) the people give me the
mandate to be the Prime Minister and I`ll be someone`s puppet
people know me for 35 years. I`ve never been controlled by
anyone."

Khan is widely expected to get the support of certain
segments such as youth and women disenchanted by widespread
corruption and a perceived lack of governance under the
Pakistan People`s Party-led government.

The Army has played a key role in shaping the
government`s foreign and security policy, especially policies
related to the US and India.

But Khan said all that would change under any government
formed by his party.

He noted that powerful leaders like Pakistan`s founder
Muhammad Ali Jinnah and PPP founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had
never brooked interference by the Army.

"When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was Prime Minister, he sacked
the Army chief and the air chief... When the great Jinnah was
in charge, you could never imagine the Army asserting itself.

We have non-leaders in Pakistan. These people are here to make
money. They are not interested in governance," he said in
the interview to be aired tonight.

The Army was controlling the situation in Balochistan
province, the tribal areas and the erstwhile Taliban
stronghold of Swat with "no civilian input" while the
country`s largest city of Karachi was controlled by the
paramilitary Pakistan Rangers, Khan said.

Asked about media reports that his party had the backing
of the military and questioned about his lack of criticism of
the military, Khan contended that he had never been controlled
by anyone in his public life of 35 years.

"Have I got a price? Can anyone buy me?" he asked.
"Why should I criticise (the Army chief) when in a
parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister is the head of
state? He has all the authority, he has all the
responsibility," he said.

He claimed the premier was responsible for tackling any
corruption in the Army.

"This is supposed to be a democratic set-up, either they
should say that they are not in charge (or) they should
resign. If they cannot be responsible for what is going on in
Pakistan, they should resign," he said.

He said he had confidence that his party would perform
well in the next elections because the electronic media had
revolutionised Pakistan by raising the level of political
awareness and because President Zardari had "exposed the true
face of Pakistani politics".

He claimed President Asif Ali Zardari had "bought
everyone, co-opted the entire political class and he`s taken
them down with him".

The recent rally in Lahore was the culmination of a
series of events that showed a change among the people and the
politicisation of the youth and women, he said.

He listed economic problems and terrorism as the two
major challenges facing Pakistan.

Khan said he proposed to tackle the economy by increasing
the collection of taxes, without which the country would be
"unviable".

Khan explained his proposal to stop taking aid from the
US, saying foreign assistance only "props up crooks like
our President".

Aid comes with strings attached, stops a country from
making reforms needed to structure government and helps
"crooked and incompetent" governments, he contended.

He reiterated his position that terrorism could be
tackled if the US stopped drone strikes and the Pakistan Army
withdrew from the tribal areas.

He claimed tribal elders had told him they could "get rid
of the terrorists" in a month once the Army pulled out.
Khan said Gen Kayani had told a recent meeting of
Pakistan`s political parties that the army is "stuck" in the
tribal areas.

He quoted the army chief as saying: "We are struck in
the tribal areas. He said we are only holding our positions.
We need a political process now because we are stuck. The
moment we withdraw, the militants come back."

Instead of negotiating with any Taliban group, Khan said
his party would try to "win the people of the tribal areas to
our side".

Asked if he was the answer to Pakistan`s problems, Khan
replied: "Not because I`m something brilliant, it`s just
because everyone else has failed."

PTI