Can Imran Khan fix 71 years of failed talks, bloodshed and hatred?

Published: July 30, 2018
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India-Pakistan relations have swung from absurdity to ridiculousness since the 1947 partition.

Imran Khan’s victory in the recently concluded General Elections went as per preordained script. The arrest of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter in a money laundering case practically sealed the deal. The Supreme Court has debarred him from contesting elections for life, virtually putting an end to the political career of the former prime minister.

It is alleged that Imran enjoys the confidence and support of the establishment which paved the way for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to emerge victorious. The opposition has questioned the legitimacy of the elections, especially where it is alleged that widespread rigging was allowed to take place to favour one party.

The political pundits had predicted, even before the first vote was cast, that Imran would win the elections hands down because of the tremendous support he receives. However, it can’t be denied that in spite of questions being raised about the fairness of the elections, Imran enjoys tremendous goodwill amongst a large section of the population, mainly for his integrity. PTI could muster only 115 seats, and they have fallen short of 22 seats to able to form the government without a coalition. It is hoped that both the independents and other smaller parties will back PTI in this regard.

Today, Pakistan faces an unprecedented economic crisis and requires the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail it out. However, the IMF will force Pakistan to make tough and painful structural adjustments. The US, on the other hand, has refused to help Pakistan until it abandons nurturing terror groups. It is for this reason that Pakistan, today, requires a strong leader, who has the ability to take some hard and unpopular decisions to resuscitate the economy.

In his address to the nation, Imran came across as a person with good intentions. Recognising the poor relations of Pakistan with some of its immediate neighbouring countries, especially Afghanistan and India, he expressed his desire to improve ties to ensure peace and stability in the region. He has also assured the people of Pakistan to root out corruption and has offered to subject himself before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He has also committed to creating a ‘Naya Pakistan’ which will focus on creating a welfare state. In spite of Imran’s inexperience in governance, he has the making of a good leader, a skill honed during his captaincy, with the ability to take all the sections of society with him. His commitment to protect the interests of the minorities is praiseworthy.

In India, one was waiting for a tweet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating Imran for his victory. Sadly, Modi, who is the first on the block to tweet, has remained silent so far. However, in a welcome development, India’s spokesperson at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), responding to Imran’s offer of friendship with India, has finally issued a statement:

“We welcome that the people of Pakistan have reposed their faith in democracy through General Elections.”

He further expressed India’s desire for a prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbours:

“We hope that the new Government of Pakistan will work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed South Asia, free of terror and violence.”

India-Pakistan relations have swung from absurdity to ridiculousness since the 1947 Partition. Earlier, the attempts of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Nawaz, which led to the signing of the famous “Lahore declaration” to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue, was sabotaged by forces inimical to any betterment of ties.

Similarly, former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani, had issued a statement at Sharm el-Sheikh for improving ties, but Pakistan’s former premier’s attempt to include Balochistan in the statement led to protests in India.

Modi’s meeting with Nawaz in Lahore was also followed by terror strikes at the Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot. India accused Pakistan of sending terrorists from across the border and refused to engage with it till it stops funding and arming the terror organisations. It impinges on India to start the process of dialogue, if there is a genuine intention of improving ties. Once the relation improves, the sponsors of terrorism will be compelled to abandon the state-sponsored policy.

There are lots of expectations from Imran, who, unlike Nawaz, is on the establishment’s good side. It is a well-known fact that the foreign policy, especially with India and Afghanistan, is decided by the army to a certain degree.

The political pundits in India are diffident whether Imran would have complete freedom and liberty to steer the foreign policy with India and Afghanistan. It would make sense for Imran to take the army on board in all future negotiations with India. Imran in his speech said that if India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward.  The Indian government should accept his offer in all its sincerity and resume the dialogue.

The people on both sides of the border have suffered immensely through cross border violations. No one has benefitted from them. Both the countries need “out of the box” solutions for improving the ties.

Today, Pakistan needs stability and peace so that the government can use all its precious time and resources for the betterment of its people. Moreover, at a time, when billions of dollars are being poured by China in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there is an urgent need for peace in the region.

India and Pakistan have seen enough blood, it is now time that the two countries join hands and solve their issues. We owe it to our future generations to establish peace in our region. India should take the step forward and extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan’s new prime minister. With the promise of Naya Pakistan, we should also work towards Naye Indo-Pak relations.

K S Venkatachalam

K S Venkatachalam

The author is an independent journalist and political commentator. He tweets as @Venkat48 (twitter.com/venkat48)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Manzoor Ahmed

    This is a very tough ask even for Imran Khan whether he can fix 71 years of failed talks, bloodshed and hatred. First the policy of Israeli illegal occupation of Palestine is being followed by the book by India. Strategically water coming from Kashmir goes to India so they fear that we would block their waterway like they have done by building multiple dams to ensure our rivers run dry. So as long as Israeli / India nexus exists they wont allow Pakistan to live peacefully.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    It takes two to tango. Whether Modi wants to shake hands with Imran Khan depends on if Modi gets what he wants from Pakistan. Merely the face of IK won’t convince India to sit with him.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    A quick look at the Indus River Basin map would show everyone that NONE of the rivers flowing through Kashmir “strategically” go to India as Manzoor claims!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    A fresh start would benefit both countries, but historically when India-Pakistan relations were looking to greatly improve, a terrorist attack on India derailed any progress! Look for the same to happen again by groups that do not want peace!Recommend

  • Patwari

    There are forces on both sides of the border that sabotage goodwill,
    or any moves to better relationships between the two countries.
    Everyone knows ‘HATE’ sells. Fox News and Rupert Murdock, and his
    bank accounts, can tell you that. Trump, with zero experience, won on
    hate, bigotry, white suprematism and misogynist views.
    These forces benefit and stay in power, through peddling hate and
    and enmity. If peace prevails, they lose their grip on power, on elections.
    And and will have no way to fulfill, all their false promises made to the
    teeming, poor, destitute, masses. Or their slice of the National Budget,
    will shrink, because peace will mean no more ‘perpetual’ arms race.
    Only God knows how many genuine peace attempts were made, by
    good people from both sides. But these attempts were sunk by self
    interest groups.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    This man is either delusional or naive. We should ask expert in this area to understand the future of India Pak relationship. Not some journalist.
    Every common man in India knows nothing is going to change. And Indians are not expecting that either. But pseudo liberals like this writer trying deceive people.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Dekhaa Aik khwaab to ye silsile huye; door tak nigaahon mein hain gul khile huye;
    ye gilaa hain aap kee nigaahon se; phool bhee ho daramiyaan to faasalen huye 😜Recommend

  • Sane

    Positive approach and willingness at both side can resolve many longstanding issues. This will also bring prosperity to the people of both countries. Imran Khan says and I believe he means it that if India come forward taking one step, Pakistan will take two steps.Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    It will come down to how sincere Imran Khan is, in having good relations with India and more importantly, how much authority he has from the Pakistani establishment in that regard. We’ve seen way too many times in the past that the Pakistani civilian leaders try to have friendly relations with India only to be thwarted time & again by the state & non state actors of Pakistan. Imran made some good gestures toward India in his speech but his words will not be taken on face value by anyone in India. We need to see action on the ground. Starting a real public trial of Hafiz Saeed for his involvement in the Mumbai attacks would be a good start.Recommend

  • gp65

    Modi has already called and greeted Imran. It has been widely reported in the press but perhaps the blog writer did not get the memo.
    In any case Vajpayee, Manmohan and Modi all tried to leave a legacy of peace but were rewarded with Kargill, parliament attack, 26/11, Uri and Pathankot. It is pretty clear who does not want peace.Recommend

  • Owais Khan

    lets sanity prevails and people to people contact improves Modi government should also appreciate and move forward to the gesture given by IK , hope both countries live in a peaceful manner better for both the nations and the region as wellRecommend

  • Sane

    Never, till Modi is there. Other than Modi is also very bleak chance that India will reciprocate. Indians are not problem solvers and adamant shrouded by HIDUWTA.Recommend

  • Patwari

    It will come down to how sincere Modi Sarkar [Butcher of Gujrat] is in having good relations with Pakistan and more importantly, how much is his hatred for Muslims.
    Butchering 2,300 Muslim men, women, children, plus the Samjhota Express Massacre,
    [Modi was involved in both] has to have a reckoning.
    We have seen too many times when Bharati army bases with 5 rings of security, get infiltrated by so called “terrorists” from “across the border” meaning Pakistan.
    Very obviously Hindustanis are nincompoops when it comes to army base security.
    OR they are attacking their own bases. How else can you describe these incidents?
    So, Hinduland is killing it’s own soldiers or they don’t know security.
    No wonder they lost 3 wars with Pakland, 1/3 it’s size.Recommend

  • Patwari

    You must be looking at a Bharati Map. Made by RSS the Mothership of all
    Hindustani extremists/terrorists organizations. Like BJP, Shiv Sena, Vishwa
    Hindu Parishad, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena…Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    I was going to respond to your comment but then I read that “India had lost 3 wars to Pakistan” and all I can do is only laugh at that. Why 3 wars? India has lost all wars with Pakistan – according to Pakistani text books that is. The rest of the world differs with you but hey what do you care LOL.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Your response would have been ‘……………’ a deep silence.
    There were only 3 wars of any consequence. Hindustani books say
    otherwise? Like 10 or 12 wars ? All won by ‘bahadur sanikon’.
    Say, Paks beat Hinduland in the 1948 war, they almost took Srinagar.
    They trounced Bharat in the Rann of Kutch affair. April 1965.
    Be glad that the Paks did not take Rajasthan.
    They beat the living daylights out of Hindustan in the Sept.1965 war.
    [your commanding general promised his brigadiers, colonels, majors
    a chota peg (one shot of whisky) at the Lahore Gymkhana by the end
    of the first day. He failed miserably. Most of the officer corp were found hiding in Amritsar. All court martialed to the nth degree]
    Kargil War, almost cut off a major chunk of Bharati Kashmir. Until the
    nincompoop Nawaz Sharif stepped in and stopped the Pak’s advance.
    [on orders from the American, who wanted to save Hindustan from a
    crushing defeat]
    Nawaz is now sitting in jail.
    Paying the price for all his years of incompetence and interference,…and looting.Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    Whatever helps you sleep better at night lol.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Did not play the videos. Might have viruses, malwares embedded.
    Either by you or your patron, Amit Shah, from the Mothership RSS.
    Would never trust videos provided by Hindustanis Hindus. Never.
    Looks like old generals/politicians in their dotage or with Alzheimers disease expounding forth. Videos churned out from the PM’s basement?
    Or good Hindu actors portraying Pakistanis. Or Photo-shopped?
    Would not put all of the above, below, your Hindutva riled nationalism.Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    I did not tell you to download those videos. They are on YouTube which is watched by billions around the world and they’re from your own media. Your denials & delusions remind me of a saying “One can wake up someone who’s in deep sleep but not someone who’s pretending to be asleep”. So enjoy your “sleep” and your fantasies lol.Recommend