Farah Adeed |
After a long political struggle of 22 years, Imran Khan is finally scheduled to take oath as Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on August 18. There are dreams, hopes, fears and some genuine uncertainties. Pakistan is Imran’s passion. This is what aspires a ray of hope that he will focus on improving the lives of poor people across the country. He is politically rude. This is what creates a sense of fear while looking at his political behavior.
How will Khan survive for five years when there will be a graceless opposition like MMA, PPP and PML-N? Interestingly, opposition parties have different political programs when they come before the public but while sitting in the parliament there is only one agenda and that is “to facilitate each other in tough times”. Khan is giving a tough time to the forces of the status quo in Pakistan and the later are now united to defeat the former.
Imran Khan understands that the war or terror is more a strategic tool to pursue political interest, not a war for the glory of Islam. Groups like TTP or some banned organized in Punjab do not work for the cause of Islam.
More importantly, Imran Khan is uncertain. He wants Pakistan to be the state of Medina but has no political program to do so. This can be Imran’s dream but it requires a comprehensive political package to be materialized without any social or political disruption. Similarly, Imran Khan wants military to do its job. The later never did and will never do. How will Imran pacify those angry boys then? This is what the PTI is going to face; a statesman who has aspired a hope but is largely uncertain and unpredictable.
Moreover, there is a challenge of internal security policy in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, Balochistan is not stable, there are problems in KPK (tribal areas) and some Sindhis are also not happy. Economic exploitation, so-called War on Terror and political expediencies have greatly marginalized the people belonging to above mentioned areas.
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At the same time, there are some banned organizations and terrorist outfits working in Pakistan to destabilize the country. How will Imran deal with them who mostly use the Islamic card and allegedly enjoy some support of all powerful Pakistani establishment? Will he be able to devise a new policy and counter the challenge of extremism in Pakistan? What will be that policy? Who will write it and why?
Let’s come to the first part; ethnically motivated unrest in Pakistan. Politics of ethnicity does not take place in a vacuum. There are many scholars in the filed who agree that the state plays a primary role in the creation and intensification of politics of ethnicity in any society. In Pakistan, Balochistan has almost always been politically unstable and economically weak. Whether the local leaders are responsible for the exploitation of the masses or not, is not the question. The question is; are their problems genuine?
This is what aspires a ray of hope that he will focus on improving the lives of poor people across the country. He is politically rude. This is what creates a sense of fear while looking at his political behavior.
Economic stability along with due political representation gives a sense of empowerment which is key to maintaining a functional federation in a multiethnic society like ours. Pakistan has, however, failed to empower the provinces throughout the history. Pakistani identity could not become a core identity for many of Balochis largely due to the state’s failure to address the grievances of the people living over there. So is the case of Sindh, it is yet to be seen how PPP deals with the situation?
There was ANP to represent the aspirations and demands of Pashtuns. Now there is PTM to represent their people. PTM is a social movement which comprises of educated Pashtuns who have been studying in Lahore and Islamabad where they realized that they need to speak up for their own people to give them a respectable way of living. Why PTM emerged at the scene in the 21st century Pakistan? The phenomenon of the PTM can be batter understood if studied through the lens of a social movement popularly known as Khudai Khidmatgar led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
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The movement was against the colonial forces and exploitation of poor people in the region. This movement opposed the creation of Pakistan by all means. But the leader of Khudai Khidmatgar Movement was not clear about his future strategies which ultimately compelled him to accept the new realities and become a part of Pakistan. In Pakistan, the movement was transformed to an organized ethnic movement to demand the rights and due political representation for Pashtuns. Apparently, the PTM is a new face of Khudai Khidmatgar. It is against the exploitation, oppression, gracelessness and political marginalization.
Imran Khan is expected to listen to these people who are angry at the moment. A comprehensive policy of accommodation needs to be formulated to make these people an active and effective part of the country’s political system. A policy which addresses economy, culture and politics will be effective and fruitful. But if Imran agrees with local elites to fulfill their respective political wishes, the problem will remain there. A structural change is required to address the challenges of marginalization and exploitation to mainstream the part of Balochistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Balochistan has almost always been politically unstable and economically weak. Whether the local leaders are responsible for the exploitation of the masses or not, is not the question. The question is; are their problems genuine?
Furthermore, there is a challenge posed by the TTP, banned outfits and organizations working in urban areas to radicalize the youth. How will Imran Khan deal with them? It is interesting to see that Khan has a local perspective to comprehend commonly known ‘global and regional issues’. Firstly, Imran Khan does not consider Madrasas something inherently bad or the factories of Jihadists. This is interesting and deserves appreciation. But, at the same time, Imran now needs to formulate a policy whereby the state will have control over these religious seminaries, their course contents and the examination system. This is how Madrasas can be mainstreamed despite the floods of criticism by the western media and their allies in Pakistan.
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Secondly, Imran Khan understands that the war or terror is more a strategic tool to pursue political interest, not a war for the glory of Islam. Groups like TTP or some banned organized in Punjab do not work for the cause of Islam. A distorted version of Islam is given to these jihadists to destabilize the country for wider political interests. But how will Imran control it when these groups are allegedly supported by Pakistani establishment? This is a key question for Imran’s team while making any policy to deal with Pakistan’s internal challenges.
There are many challenges at the moment and one Imran Khan has a worldview but is uncertain. It will be interesting to see how does Imran deal with the challenges mentioned above to prove his leadership skills and deep understanding of the issues?
Farah Adeed is a Senior Research Analyst in GVS. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s Editorial Policy.