Imran Khan’s outlandish statements are counterproductive
by Jaibans Singh on 17 Feb 2020 1 Comment

This year, Imran Khan, the “selected” Prime Minister of Pakistan, chose to celebrate the infamous “Kashmir Solidarity Day” in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Predictably, a major part of his speech at Mirpur was directed against India and specifically against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said, “200 million people of Pakistan and its battle-hardened army will teach India a hard lesson”, and termed recent changes in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir a “mistake”. At the tail end of his speech, he gave a weak assurance that Pakistan would always stand by the people of Kashmir and fight alongside them.


At Lahore, Imran Khan’s PTI leveraged Kashmir Solidarity Day to project an anti-Hindu agenda. Banners showed PTI general secretary for Lahore, Muhammad Usman, Imran Khan and Mohammad Ali Jinnah and proclaiming, “Hindu Baat Se Nahin, Laat Se Manta Hai” (Hindu does not understand with words, he understands with kicks) were put up across the city. They were later removed but by then the message had been sent and the purpose served.


This orchestrated ritual was followed by an escalation of tension along the Line of Control in the Poonch region opposite Mirpur. Due to the ensuing cease fire violations in the sector, one brave Indian soldier lost his life and three were injured. The propagandist Pakistani information machinery was quick to put the entire blame on India; it termed the blatant violations as “retaliation against the targeting of civilians by Indian troops,” adding, for good measure, that ten civilians were injured due to Indian firing.


Having said his piece Imran Khan went back to his luxurious life and thus culminated the perfidious, propagandist game plan of Pakistan for the so-called Kashmir Solidarity Day, 2020. The hapless people of the occupied territories were left wondering why he came to address them in the first case.  


Pakistan observes February 5 as Kashmir Solidarity Day every year. It is an annual ritual since 1990 whose stated objective is to support the so-called struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir towards self-determination of their political status. In actuality, it is downright propaganda.


The reality is that the travails of the people living in these occupied territories remain hidden from the world because of media strangulation. Journalists, bloggers, civil rights activists are targeted for exposing Pakistan’s real face to the world. There is hardly any newspaper being published over there, what to talk of electronic media. The world gets to see only a few video clips that are smuggled out and shown by freedom fighters of the area living in exile across the globe. The brutality of the establishment is clearly visible in these footages; people are seen protesting in vast numbers against the atrocities heaped upon them.


The idea of Pakistan expressing solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir is simply preposterous. Where, one wonders, is the oneness of cause or interest that would ignite a feeling of solidarity? Imran Khan claims an emotional bond with the people of Kashmir. What exactly has he, his government and those before him actually done for the people of Kashmir except for causing bloodshed and untold misery to them through barbaric terrorism?

Pakistan claims a cultural and ideological bond with the people of the state, but Jammu and Kashmir comprises of people with different ethnicity in the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. How can Pakistan being an Islamic state claim cultural affinity with all these regions?


Besides, what solidarity can Pakistan foster when it is itself in the throes of an existential crisis? Even as Imran Khan was making his speech, Pakistan’s leading economists were begging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to go soft on its demand of increasing taxation, power tariff and interest rates in order to expand the narrow tax base. They said such an action would further erode the political capital of the ruling party which is already in the eye of a storm due to burgeoning inflation. Opposition parties are baying for Imran Khan’s blood in view of the skyrocketing prices of food items. The charge is being led by Bilawal Bhutto who lambasts the Prime Minister as “incompetent, incapable and selected”.


Imran Khan is projecting himself as a fearless leader ready to face any form of conflict with India. But if there is a military face-off, Pakistan will be financially ruined within a week. India too will suffer but she has the resilience to tide over the crisis. Further, India has the capacity to go in for a stretched out conflict, which is not the case with Pakistan.


Imran speaks of battle hardened troops, but what of morale? It is no secret that the extension given to General Bajwa, now ratified as Army Chief till November 28, 2022, has not gone down well with the army rank and file, especially the senior leadership. In order to save his extended tenure, General Bajwa resorted to a purge in the senior levels with many Generals being told to “resign”. Now there are disturbing reports of Major General Asif Ghafoor, recently removed as Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DG ISPR), meeting with a serious accident, along with his wife. Both have reportedly been sent to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly for better treatment, but possibly also in order to keep the matter under wraps.


India is well within her rights to discuss all options, including use of force, to take back from Pakistan the occupied territories. Imran Kahn would be well advised to opt for a balancing act and look for ways to resolve the issue peacefully. His hostility and outlandish statements against India are definitely counterproductive.


(Jaibans Singh is a Geo-strategic analyst, writer and commentator)

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