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The Indian factor in Pak politics The Excelsior 20 Apr 2022
Imran Khan, the ex-Pak Prime Minister, had for years been accusing the Modi government of possessing a RSS mindset, being anti-Muslim and responsible for human rights violations in Kashmir. On 26th Jun 2020, addressing a gathering in Muzaffarabad, Imran had stated, ‘Modi is not a normal man; he’s a psychopath and a product of the RSS. His party is a product of the RSS and those belonging to the RSS consider Hitler’s Nazi Party a role model.’ Addressing a seminar in Dec last year he stated, ‘Meaningful negotiations with India are impossible as long as the government there is inspired by this (RSS) ideology.’ Imran’s nightmare was abrogation of article 370, on which his government had no response.
However, as soon as he came under threat of a no-confidence motion, his tune changed and instead of accusations against RSS ideology, flowed praise. He kept praising India on every platform seeking to convey a message to entities within. A day before the no-trust vote, which removed him from power, in an address to the nation, Imran stated, ‘Indians are khuddar quam (very self-respecting people). No superpower can dictate terms to India.’ He never mentioned that India is where it is because of its comprehensive national power, developed over years by consecutive governments.
Even Maryam Nawaz, while criticizing Imran, praised India. She tweeted in Urdu, ‘There were 27 no-confidence motions against various prime ministers who were reciting anthems of India. No one has played with the constitution, democracy and ethics. Vajpayee lost by one vote, went home – did not take the country, constitution and nation hostage like you (Imran Khan)!’ In the same breath she commented that if he (Imran) likes India so much, why does he not leave Pakistan and go to India. When everything else fails within Pak, they look upto India as a role model.
India has always been considered as an enemy of Pakistan and a nation which seeks to split it. Kashmir, for most Pakistani’s, is an unfinished business from partition. Every Pak leader accuses India of human rights in Kashmir and ill-treatment of minorities, solely to garner national sympathy. Imran Khan was no different. Shehbaz Sharif is no different. In his first speech as PM, Shehbaz Sharif commented that resolution of Kashmir is essential prior to normalization of ties. However, every Pak leader including its army chief is aware that Kashmir remains a pipedream and talks can only be on Indian terms.
Then why did Indian bashers suddenly begin praising India? It is not that Pakistan’s leaders have had a change of heart or that they are impressed by the current Indian leadership. Imran has always compared Pakistan with India, whether it be rising prices, economy or even handling of COVID. He has always projected Pakistan as shining in comparison to India, mostly being lies. This is the first time that he has projected a failed Pak in comparison to India.
Imran’s intention was to project benefits of the Indian democratic model as compared to Pakistan’s. Indian governments have worked for the nation, rather than playing politics within. The army has never ventured into politics. This has resulted in the country becoming an economic powerhouse. With a growing economy, Indian military power has grown, both combining to enhance India’s diplomatic power.
This has led to nations rushing to partner India and sign trade deals with it. It has created an environment which enables India to adhere to its national interests despite global pressure. Nations may express disappointment with India’s approach but are aware that India cannot be pushed. PM Modi had rightfully stated, ‘today, the world has witnessed the emergence of such an India, which stands firm to safeguard its interests without any fear or pressure.’ Heads of state rush to India, ignoring Pak. Imran backed Pm Modi’s comments when he stated, ‘Pakistan should learn from India, it has self-respect.’
Pakistan, on the contrary has sunk as a state. Its hybrid government, incompetent leaders selected by the army, an economy dependent on doles from the world bank and loans from China are a recipe for disaster and Imran has not disappointed on that account. Pakistan cannot anger those that fund its survival. Thus, its foreign policies are subject to influence. Hence, a group of European diplomats based in Pakistan wrote to its government insisting it support Ukraine rather than display neutrality. They could never do so in Delhi. What irked Imran was that a US Under Secretary called the Pak ambassador in Washington and demanded that Imran cancel his visit to Moscow.
The Pak polity is aware that Indian diplomatic power is responsible for its isolation. A few words of encouragement from China mean nothing. Saudi Arabia refuses to back Pakistan while the UAE has begun investing in Kashmir, projecting that it considers Kashmir a part of India and not disputed. The world ignores Pak, while embracing India. In the valley, support to terrorism is waning. Imran faced opposition wrath for his failings on Kashmir.
Another reason for Imran praising India was to hit back at the Pak army, which controls foreign policy from behind the curtains. Every Pak PM serves at the pleasure of the army chief and is removed when he steps out of line, as has happened to Imran. This hybrid model succeeds for a couple of years before cracks begin to emerge as between Imran and Bajwa.
Imran, in his speeches, projected himself as the saviour of Pakistan. He stated, ‘They (US) are against me because I speak against the injustice of Iraq war, Afghanistan war, terror attacks.’ He is now promising to be a leader who will replicate the Indian model of an independent foreign policy ignoring demands of global powers. Imran is aware that these dreams can never be fulfilled similar to that of his creating a medina state. However, they suit his honest man image and would continue to fool his masses.
India comes into Pak politics, whenever it faces internal squabbles and needs to project a nation succeeding while it fails. Pak politicians are also aware that the Indian model is dream which they may never attain.