Does Imran Khan have the gall to take India policy out of Army-ISI hands?

Successive Pakistani prime ministers have failed or have been too afraid to take on the military-ISI establishment.

Updated: Aug 21, 2018, 21:05 PM IST

Former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has formed the new government in Pakistan. The new Pakistan PM and his partymen have repeatedly spoken of resuming dialogue with India. But is it really that simple?

Pakistan's India policy
Let us get it right. The India policy of Pakistan is not in the hands of political groups. It is the Army and ISI which decide. Many security experts like Mahroof Raza of Times Now or Col RSN Singh will vouch for this. The bilateral meetings on security issues between the two countries that had happened in those days, the proceedings will surely betray the authorship of ISI in respect of these matters.

Imran Khan, the cricketer
Imran was an excellent cricketer. He has his achievements to speak for this and nobody can question this. He was an excellent leader in the cricket ground. There can be no two opinions about this, which further gets validated by the fact the he revitalised his team from a position of being knocked out of the tournament to emerge the winners of the 1992 World Cup. He had also harnessed many young cricketers like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis etc. who later on went on to become achievers in their own right.

I am not otherwise passing any ethical judgement on his activities on the field or off the field as a cricketer.

Nor do I intend to talk on his personal life, on which Reham Khan has a detailed account and rightly so.

Migration to politics
In 1996, Khan founded a political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). He ran for the seat of National Assembly of Pakistan in Pakistani general election, 1997 as a candidate of PTI from two constituencies - NA-53, Mianwali and NA-94, Lahore - but was unsuccessful and lost the both seats to candidates of the PML (N).

Khan supported Pervez Musharraf's military coup in 1999, believing he would "end corruption, clear out the political mafias".

According to Khan, he was Musharraf's choice for prime minister in 2002, but turned down the offer.

In the 2002 Pakistani general election in October across 272 constituencies, Khan participated in the elections and was prepared to form a coalition if his party did not get a majority of the vote. He was elected from Mianwali.

He has also served as a part of the Standing Committees on Kashmir and Public Accounts.

On 6 May 2005, Khan was mentioned in The New Yorker as being the "most directly responsible" for drawing attention in the Muslim world to the Newsweek story about the alleged desecration of the Qur'an in a US military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Talibani alliance
It is not for no reason that he is addressed as 'Taliban Khan' by sections of the media. It is a matter of public record that Khan courted controversy for describing top Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Wali-ur-Rehman as 'pro-peace' when he was killed by US forces in 2013. "The drone attack that killed pro-peace Wali-ur-Rehman led to our soldiers being killed/injured in revenge attacks! This is totally unacceptable," he tweeted.

Khan also suggested that the Taliban should be allowed to "open an office" somewhere in Pakistan. He argued that if the US could allow the Afghan Taliban to open offices in Qatar, why couldn't the Pakistan Taliban be allowed do the same? 

In March 2014, senior PTI leader and health minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shaukat Yousafzai, said PTI had "always supported the opening of a Taliban office in Peshawar". Later, yet another minister in the PTI-ruled KPK province supported this view.

In support of Hafeez Saeed
Imran Khan has expressed support for 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed as the party submitted an adjournment notice against the ban on Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), media reports said. This move had come even as the Pakistan government said it was taking steps to permanently ban the Saeed-led JuD and other terror groups and individuals on the interior ministry's watch list.

Imran Khan's post-election interview
Once the elections trends started coming and it was evident the party was emerging as the single largest party, he gave an interview in which amongst other things, he stated that India and Pakistan should talk and also that they can solve the Kashmir "problem". This is certainly a giveaway that he was speaking the language of ISI. 

Why reopen Kashmir?
Let us get facts clear. Kashmir is an integral part of India. The instrument of accession is the superceding instrument that gives in. Also, I do not know why the Pakistan PM-elect is so obsessed with the issue. 

Talks are relevant
As regards talks, indeed as an individual working on conflict resolution, I believe that talks are relevant. But the framework for talks will have to be defined a priori. 

Frame work for talks
This framework should include the following action on the part of Pakistan as condition precedent to talks:

     1.     No ceasefire violations.
     2.     Stop infiltrations through LoC and IB.
     3.     Stop pampering and funding separatist leaders and their unholy agenda.
     4.     Stop terror attacks in India.
     5.     Stop funding terror groups in India.
     6.     Stop drug trafficking in India. Acceptance the evidences provided by Narcotics Control Bureau of India to anti-narcotics force of Pakistan about source of drugs being Pakistan.
     7.     Dismantle sleeper cells.
     8.     Dismantle terror infrastructure and terror training camps in Muzaffarabad, Gilgit, Mirpur-Khas etc  in PoK.
     9.     Repatriate fugitives from Indian law, like Dawood Ibrahim, back to India.
     10.   Print your currency notes not fake Indian currency notes.
Surely, we can talk after this. You are an ex-cricketer. Let the pitch be playable equally to both sides. Whosoever is the better team, let them win. Indeed, these are times of space technology. All evidences including electronic and satellite images have been shared with Pakistan time and again. Only, you have to take cognizance of the truth supporting the evidence.

I am sure if PTI chief Imran accepts these pre-conditions to talks, those ecstatic on his victory in India will rejoice. Otherwise, make no mistake, it will be 'Agony, Part-N, Continued'. Successive Pakistan prime ministers have continued the Agony, parts I, II and so on so forth, that we have lost count. Surely, to Pakistan's dismay, we are still marching ahead rapidly as an economic, intellectual, technical and human resource powerhouse.

A challenge to Imran Khan
Will Imran Khan have the gall the antagonise the ISI and military to take these steps? Else, let him not give big-mouthed media addresses talking about peace. Let him accept that in so far as the India policy is concerned he is a servant of ISI/military, and not vice versa. Concede the point to Mahroof Raja or Col RSN Singh and other Indian security experts that they are right.

(RVS Mani is a former Central government officer who shot to prominence as a whistleblower in 2009, when he alleged he had been forced to sign documents that fabricated a narrative of 'Saffron Terror'. His book, 'Hindu Terror: Insider account of Ministry of Home Affairs', was released recently.)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)