Prime Minister Imran Khan
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly
(UNGA) won him kudos from his domestic political base, drew criticism from his
opponents and continues to be fiercely debated upon back home.
visit was touted as super successful by the deep state-backed propaganda
machine, even called another world cup win – a throwback to his cricketing
days. However, a curious development happened right after his return. Maleeha
Lodhi – Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, and the ostensible
manager of the so-called world cup-winning team – was unceremoniously let go.
Lodhi has been an envoy to Washington, London and New York during Pakistan’s
assorted quasi-democratic governments and a military regime.
all practical purposes, the army’s representative in the US for years, she has
now been replaced, even more curiously, by Munir Akram – another army favourite
who had previously held the same position during the Pervez Musharraf regime.
claim to fame, or notoriety to be precise, is two-fold: First, he was charged
with assaulting his girlfriend by smashing her head into a wall, while he was
Pakistan’s representative at the UN. The US had asked Pakistan to strip him of
his diplomatic immunity so that he could be prosecuted but nothing came of it.
Secondly, the man is known for threatening nuclear Armageddon at the drop of a
hat. Akram’s diplomatic success, if there ever was any, pales against his
nuclear war-mongering and alleged domestic abuse. He is perhaps the most
jingoistic Pakistani diplomat to have served at the UN. He continued to raise
the spectre of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan in his writings after
that stint. So why him, why now?
answer to that question lies in how his appointment dovetailed, albeit
brusquely, with Imran Khan’s speech, and the cheerleading which followed.
the first to gloat over Khan’s thinly-veiled threat – which he had called a
warning – of a nuclear war, with fallout beyond South Asia, was the director
general of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) Major General Asif
Ghafoor. The general re-tweeted from his verified personal account, “27 Feb….27
Sep [sic]”, a reference both to Pakistan capturing an Indian pilot after an
aerial skirmish earlier this year, and Imran Khan pledging to fight on, in case
of an all-out war.
some of us called the DG-ISPR out over his tweet, he responded in a manner
unbecoming of both his office and rank. In the process, however, he gave away
the fact that Khan’s statement – “we will fight” – right after reciting the
Kalima or Muslim pledge of faith, is actually the Pakistan army’s preferred way
of raising the threat of war. Invoking mutually-assured nuclear destruction,
followed by a religious incantation and a threat to fight on, was a message
straight from GHQ’s script. This, despite the fact that it has become increasingly
clear that India has successfully called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff over the past
couple of years. In the process, the threshold for a conventional war has been
reset to India’s advantage.
had previously succeeded in prosecuting its foreign policy objectives through
jihadist proxies, under the shadow of a mushroom cloud. The unstated threat –
don’t respond to our jihadist moves or there will be nuclear war. However,
India’s conventional retaliation to the Uri and Pulwama attacks, though tactically
uneventful, shifted the strategic paradigm: there can be limited, kinetic
engagement in retaliation for terrorism, without tripping the nuclear wire. The
net result was that after Modi’s unconstitutional move to end the special
status of Jammu and Kashmir state, Pakistan was virtually boxed-in and unable
to respond in any meaningful manner.
economically-struggling and diplomatically-isolated, the Imran Khan regime –
under the tutelage of Pakistan army – could literally do nothing in the
aftermath of India scrapping Article 370. The Pakistan army, and its political
offspring, Imran Khan, lost face at home and abroad. There is absolutely no
doubt that the Pakistan army is neither capable of nor willing to fight a
conventional war outside the country’s border. With economic investments
ranging from producing corn flakes to movies and developing housing societies
to dairy farming, the Pakistan army is as much – or more – a business house as
a fighting machine. It has neither won a foreign war, nor intends to fight one
now. But it wishes to keep the pots simmering in Kashmir and Afghanistan
through the use of jihadist terrorism al la Lashkar, Jaish and Taliban. To do
so, however, without any fear of retaliation, it desperately needs the nuclear
Imran Khan tried to do at the UNGA was to regain for Pakistan’s military
establishment that nuclear threat advantage – where it can blackmail the world
into tolerating its jihadist proxy warfare. There was a method to Imran Khan’s
ranting and rambling madness, as there has been to that of his army patrons for
decades: scare the living daylights out of the international community that if
hurt militarily or economically, Pakistan will resort to the use of its nuclear
weapons. It is a naked threat, albeit a faux one.
can count on seeing more of that with Munir Akram coming back to the UN.
Pakistan’s game-plan in the months ahead is simple: count on unrest in Kashmir
due to the Modi government’s highhandedness, try to stoke a fire in the Valley,
and brandish a nuclear threat to pre-empt Indian retaliation. The net result of
this time-tested formula, however, won’t be the liberation of Kashmir but the
cementing of the Pakistan army’s controlling position in the country and the
safeguarding of its political and business interests. Imran Khan is happy to
peddle this poison, as it helps him keep his job.
Islamophobia, But Ignorant Of Abuses In Pak
stood at the UNGA podium lamenting Islamophobia in the West, while the Shia
Muslims live in ghettos in Pakistan and the Ahmadis are ostracised out of his
own government. Shias and Ahmadis have sustained scores of casualties at the
hands of Imran Khan’s darling Taliban and other assorted jihadists. His own
party members ran their elections campaign on an anti-Ahmadi platform. Khan has
been asked multiple times about China’s persecution of its Uighur Muslims, and
every time he has pleaded ignorance about the issue. One really has to be
living in a bubble to not know about China’s brutal oppression of the Muslims.
But that’s not it. Pakistan, under Khan’s leadership, signed a letter to the UN
Human Rights Council defending China’s detention of Uighur Muslims.
army-backed Khan regime also absolved its financial benefactor, Saudi Arabia,
of bombing the hapless Yemeni Muslims. As Khan spoke from both sides of his
mouth at the UN, Pakistan voted against a UN probe into Saudi war crimes in
Yemen. Inside Pakistan, the Khan regime has locked up, at the behest of its
military mentors, political opponents including former prime ministers and a
president on trumped-up graft charges.
many ways, Khan’s UNGA appearance was a cheap imitation of another Pakistani
premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s December 1971 speech at the UN Security Council.
Bhutto’s speech was followed by a tragedy; Khan’s pantomime would be followed
by a farce. The Pakistani prime minister’s aim was to throw a lifeline to his
army sponsors, not the Kashmiris. Both the Kashmiris, and the world at large,
can expect more verbal fire and fury with the hiring of Akram, but nothing of
substance. The tragedy, after this travesty at the UNGA, however, is that the
Kashmiri people would continue to be denied their fundamental human rights, let
alone the right to self-determination.
Taqi is a Pakistani-American columnist.
Headline: Imran Khan’s UN Speech Was
Aimed at Helping Pakistan’s Army, Not the Kashmiris
Source: The Wire