Once a captain always a captain… It’s true in the real sense in case of cricketer turned politician Imran Khan. He dominated cricket world in his younger days and now, will do his best to dominate politics of Pakistan and influence the international community. Pakistan urgently needs the help of international communities. The biggest challenges before Imran are of internal security, foreign policy and reviving economy among others. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has made significant inroads in the province of Sindh while strengthening their base in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab.
But, dominating Pakistan politics will not be easy for Imran. He has raised expectations of the people. ‘Naya Pakistan’ is a good slogan. He shared his idea of Naya Pakistan when he said, ”I want to share the kind of Pakistan I envision - the type of state that was established in Madina, where widows and the poor were taken care of.”
Pakistan’s policy on India and Afghanistan are always influenced by a powerful army. The phenomenon rise of politician
Imran goes to his ‘consistency’ and his cricketing background. The people of the sub-continent are cricket crazy and they ‘worship’ their favourite cricketers. The Pakistanis are proud of Imran as he led the nation to win ICC World Cup Cricket in 1992. He came into politics in 1996 when he formed PTI. He has also built cancer hospital near Lahore. He has good friends like Kapil Dev in India. He has travelled across India extensively as a cricketer and knows India and Indian people’s thinking.
In his victory speech, Imran categorically said that Pakistan wants to improve relations with India and his government would like both the government to resolve all disputes including the ‘core issue’ of Kashmir through dialogue. He said, ”If India takes one step towards us, we will take two steps toward them, but at least (we) need a start.” He also told his supporters that good India-Pakistan relations will be beneficial for the entire region and suggested to increase trade ties between the two neighbours. Already, a couple of chambers of commerce from Karachi and Lahore are in touch with few leaders of PTI. They are for more trade between the two countries and reduction in tax rates. The trade, sports and art can bring the two neighbours close. It is said that at the end of the day, money matters. So, trade is important. Nawaz Sharif had realised the importance of trade and did try to increase the volume of trade. Now, as Imran and army are more or less on the same page, one can expect trade to get a boost.
A positive thing Imran has shown is that he is open to dialogue with India. His comment is contrary to his image built over the years in the media. He said, ”The Indian media has portrayed me as a Bollywood villain. I am a Pakistani who knows so many Indians due to cricket. I want good relations with India and I would like to improve our trade ties with them in order to boost relations.” It’s a fact that he knows many Indians including many cricketers. Media’s portrayal of him or anyone else depends on the actions or statements coming from them. Imran as a leader of the opposition and Imran as PM-designate are two different things.
The election campaign of PTI lacked India bashing. It is believed that Islamabad-based Indian High Commission’s officials were in touch with close colleagues of Imran. This is also a time that both the countries should resume back-channel dialogue.
Imran also emphasised on improving relations with the US and Afghanistan. China is already a close ally of Pakistan and relations with Russia have also improved recently. The relation with Afghanistan is also tense. Both the countries need to see that their land will not be used to attack others’ countries.
On the domestic front, Imran has major challenges. It will not be easy for him. His main strength is youth power. He has mobilised youths in huge number. As Pakistan’s economy is facing a serious crisis, unemployment becomes a major issue. He needs to tackle it. Global money needs to be attracted to investment. Global money goes to places where peace exists.
Many bigwigs taste defeat
Bilawal Bhutto, Chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Shahbaz Sharif, President of Pakistan Muslim League (N) will be in the National Assembly only because they contested elections from more than one constituency. Bilawal, son of Benazir Bhutto and grandson of ZA Bhutto contested from three seats. He won from Larkana and lost from Karachi & Malakand. Shahbaz Sharif contested from four constituencies and won only from Lahore. Afsandyar Wali Khan, grandson of Khan Abdul Gafar Khan and leader of Awami National Party (ANP) lost from his home constituency Charsadda. Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lost elections from the two seats he was contesting. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl’s also lost elections from his traditional stronghold. Imran Khan won from all the five seats he was contesting. Pakistani voters also did not elect any leaders from hardline religious parties like Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League (MML). Khadim Rizvi led Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan also did not win a single seat. The marginalisation of left-liberal ANP in the province of KPK is most shocking.