Election of Imran Khan as Pakistan Prime Minister is set to introduce a completely new dynamic in Pakistan politics and in the country’s relations with the world and especially its neighbours. An adored cricketer and a charismatic politician, Khan’s politics hasn’t been easy to define. He hasn’t generally toed a politically correct line, something that, at times, has earned him the sobriquet like Taliban Khan.
But at the same time, he has spoken more or less realistically about the issues with a candid touch. One refreshing thing about him is that his politics hasn’t been ideologically tinted. And his idea of the resolution of the issues has been pragmatic. For example, in regard to Kashmir, he has shown himself favourable towards Musharraf’s four-point proposals.
But being in opposition and being in power are two different things. It is difficult to predict how Khan will act as the Prime Minister but it is unlikely that he will deviate remarkably from his long-standing positions on the issues.
In Kashmir, people have largely reacted positively to his election. On social media, people have generally been euphoric about the cricketer leading a troubled nation. So have been the Kashmiri politicians. Farooq Abdullah have praised Khan for his conciliatory gesture towards India.
“We want him to implement what he is saying, Abdullah said.
Similarly, Mirwaiz has welcomed Khan’s remarks and expressed hope that “the neighbours give peace a real chance”.
Yasin Malik has talked about his friendship with Khan and how the two spent days in Muzaffarabad in 2005 to help out the victims of the major earthquake that had struck in both sides of Kashmir and killed around 80,000 people.
Khan has thus generated hopes unlike any other Pakistani leader in recent past. One reason for this is that he continues to enjoy the goodwill of his illustrious cricketing past. Image of a charismatic sportsman still dominates that of a politician. But now starts the real test. More so, considering the monumental challenges faced by the country.
Pakistan is politically in the dire state of affairs and in security terms a mess. Geo-politically too, the country is undeniably placed. It’s relations with the world, chiefly with the US and India have plunged to their lowest lows. And the differences with them have become so irreconcilable that it will take a very sensitive handling of the two relations to ensure these don’t lead to conflict.
However, Khan brings with him no baggage and he can afford to approach the issues facing Pakistan afresh. In Kashmir, people would expect him to work with India for a durable solution to Kashmir. He has already shown his willingness to move in this direction. In his first speech itself, Khan has extended a hand of friendship to India and sought to address Kashmir, a core issue. For now, we can’t do much but keep our fingers crossed.
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