Imran Khan. Photo: AFP
Kochi: Lauding Indians as 'very self-respecting people' and complimenting India for its 'independent foreign policy' ahead of the no-trust vote, former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan dug himself deeper into the ground amid his ouster.
Imran said India still buys oil from Russia despite global sanctions in the backing of its strong and independent foreign policy.
A leader known for his anti-India stance and links with radical Islam groups, Imran's praise left all perplexed and confused. Mathrubhumi.com examines the significance of his statement in view of the current international developments from the perspectives of former diplomats.
Former Indian diplomat TP Sreenivasan and former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy have opined that Imran's praising of India was just a tactic to win support in the final moment but it turned against him like all his moves during his tenure.
“By praising India, Imran tried to project him as an idealist and create an impression that his personality had changed. After all, he wanted to offend the Pakistani military. He did it to face the elections in confidence and win support. However, it further messed things up as pro-Indian stances are not acceptable on Pakistani soil,” said Sreenivasan.
There is a popular saying in Pakistan that one should have the support of 'Allah, Army and America' to be a leader there. “The army in Pakistan follows what America follows. The US was totally unhappy with Imran's moves including his Russia visit and helping the Taliban in winning power in Afghanistan. Imran visited Russia and had lunch together with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite warnings by the US not to make such moves. Pakistan worked as a link in Russia-China ties,” said Sreenivasan.
The military chief of Pakistan General Qamar Bajwa was also unhappy over Imran's Russian visit and he even expressed this openly. “After all, the appointment of Lieutenant General Hamid Gul as the chief of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has also irked Bajwa as Imran was making moves to replace him with Gul as the new chief of the army. It was on the advice of Imran's wife, who is known to be a good fortune teller, he appointed Gul as the ISI chief. In short, everything turned against him and he lost the support of all, including his party members,” said Sreenivasan.
He added that Imran's allegation of the influence of a foreign country in his ouster is true as Pakistan Ambassador in America had sent a note to Imran that America will not have a good relationship with Pakistan unless Imran is removed. “It was this letter, he showed as a proof of foreign meddling in the no-trust vote and his ouster,” added Sreenivasan.
On April 3, Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri disallowed the no-confidence motion against Imran, calling it unconstitutional.
Former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy opined that Imran Khan is a very complex man and short-tempered. He came into politics largely with the support of the military and the same military turned against him due to the shortsighted moves he made.
“Imran's attempt to make Lieutenant General Hamid Gul as military chief irked the military. Like Gul, who was Imran's mentor, he supported radical Islam groups operating against India. He was persistently anti-Indian and very strong on Kashmir. After he became the prime minister, he had to give the extremist forces more support."
"He followed a wrong foreign policy and it spoiled the ties with the major Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “These nations wanted to enhance ties with India and the Modi government had gone out of the way to cultivate the Arab while enhancing the relationship with Israel. Imran was very badly boycotted by Biden and even refused to speak to him due to his radical Islam links. Biden had full knowledge of Imran's contacts with radical Islamist groups,” said Parthasarathy.
Imran was hurt by all these things and he found India's relationship with the US, Russia and other nations flourishing. “Imran was impressed by the foreign policy of India as India was not ready to compromise with anybody when it comes to the national interest. India stood firm even when the US imposed sanctions to discourage India's trade with Russia. Being an independent nation, Pakistan mostly has a record of surrenderings. By praising India, he was really making the point that his team was actually trying to emulate India,” said Parthasarathy.
However, he added that this does not mean his policy towards India has been changed. “He has Kashmir under his bonnet. Had he continued India would have another summer of disputes. He knew that he was going to be ousted and the praise of India just was another foolish move he made,” added Parthasarathy.
By trying to be closer with Turkey and Malaysia, he became a less favourite leader for the UAE and Saudi. “He is the only prime minister of Pakistan, who failed to win even the support of Saudi and the UAE, where the largest numbers of Pakistanis work. All of his moves were seen as undermining these nations' influence in the Islamic world. It was at a time when Pakistan gets fuel at a discounted rate from the Gulf and a major source of foreign remittance, he bruised ties with the Gulf. Imran went to the extent of criticising the US for the economic sanctions as he was not even looking at the issues,” said Parthasarathy.