Imran is bidding for “New Pakistan”

K.N. Pandita
We cannot help looking
somewhat askance
when we are told that
Imran Khan wants to make a
“New Pakistan”. There is mystery
in the term “New Pakistan”
about what it actually means? In
his first speech after he was
sworn in, Prime Minister Imran
Khan focussed on very disquieting
current financial situation of
his country. The narrative is
superscripted by what stance
IMF will adopt once Pakistan
approaches it for a massive bank
loan to retrieve its collapsing
The US has made no bones
of its unwillingness to oblige
Pakistan if she approaches the
IMF in which Washington has a
big say. The reason given by the
US official sources is that it has
reports of Pakistan diverting
parts of these funds to the support
of anti-US and anti-Afghan
government Taliban in
Afghanistan. In fact Trump
administration has been warning
Pakistan that punitive measures
could be taken against Pakistan’s
failure to contain sources funding
the Afghan Taliban war.
Although Pakistan sticks to its
classical prescription of denial,
it has made little rather no
impact on Trump administration.
In his first official speech
after the oath taking ceremony,
PM Imran Khan focussed on
austerity measures as something
urgently required to cut down
State expenses. He spoke of lavish
life style of top government
functionaries, ministers and
affluent segments of society and
brought out the existing gap
between their affluence and the
stark poverty of the ordinary
masses. He was cautious not to
dole out any threats to the superrich
but remained content with
citing the example of simple and
pure life style of the holy
Prophet of Islam. He went to the
length of stating that austerity
measures would begin from his
person as he would live in a
three-bedroom house and proposed
giving the existing Prime
Ministerial palace for housing a
university. Who among the poor
and the toiling masses would not
be happy with this statement? At
the same time it undoubtedly
will be irksome to the affluent.
But the question is deeper
than what we may see at its surface.
Austerity is not the cup of
tea of a nation that believes in
the supremacy of a particular
faith it has adopted for centuries.
Knowing that Pakistan has no
history of observing austerity, he
took shelter behind the example
of the Holy Prophet’s life. We
have very often heard Islamic
scholars speaking of the
Prophet’s austere and simple life
yet the widening gap between
the haves and have-nots in Pakistan
kept on growing wider and
wider. Therefore Imran Khan
will have to look for the reasons
why the precept of the Prophet
has not found favour with the
Pakistani nation’s super social
The point is that the standard
for the model of life in Pakistan
is set by the elite which are a triumvirate
of feudal lords, Generals
and the top echelons of
bureaucracy. The triumvirate is
closely linked by deep-set economic
interests, kinship and
matrimonial alliances. It has
thrown an iron curtain around
itself which is rather impenetrable.
Imran Khan may have
established working strategy
with the Army and that has to
remain restricted to civil administration
but when it comes to
touching on the privileges
apportioned by the powerful to
it, things could become sleazy
and even provocative.
Of course, temporarily, the
triumvirate may agree on austerity
outlines because ultimately
their skin is also getting
scratched and, as such, the Amy
may use its forks and tongs to
impress upon the US to play soft
on IMF loan to Pakistan. The
American Secretary of State is
visiting Pakistan on September
5 for some serious exchange of
views with the newly formed
government. The US is keen that
the new government in Islamabad
should use its weight to
reduce the fighting in
Afghanistan but the US may also
mean to have a deal with Pakistan
if she wants the US to relent
on IMF issue. The tone and tenor
of State Secretary’s speech is
self-explanatory. We may recollect
that initially the US did cast
aspersions on the fairness of
Pakistan elections and
expressed some reservations.
But it appears that Pakistan army
has moved quickly to do some
damage controlling exercise by
way of allowing one-time
munificence to the nascent civilian
government in Islamabad.
Washington has changed its narrative
and is seizing the opportunity
of being the first big power
to congratulate Pakistan on
having a new elected government
and hoping to revive the
old ties once again. There is a
clear indication that Pakistan is
responding to the American
pressures in regard to Afghan
Conspicuously, Imran Khan
avoided touching on his government’s
foreign policy in any specific
manner. However, the
State Department has been
closely monitoring Pakistan’s
attitude after its relations with
Islamabad saw a downslide in
the aftermath of Trump accusing
Pakistan of “lies and fraud.” It
has to be noted that in recent
months Moscow has been warming
up to Islamabad and cooling
towards India with a rather
unexpected hurry. More importantly,
Moscow had been showing
interests in assuring Pakistan
of its naval security, and protection
of its shores on the Indian
Ocean, something about which
doubts were expressed after
Gwadar became functional.
Yet at the same time fast
expanded influence of China
among the Muslim countries in
the littoral region and the Middle
East is posing serious threat
to the unchallenged position of
the US of cold war days. PM
Imran Khan has to play his cards
deftly as convergence of benign
pressure of great powers is in the
process of restructuring Pakistan’s
domestic and foreign policy.
Making a “New Pakistan” is
the need of the hour because
Pakistan is got bogged with
chronic ideological apartheid.
What will be the instruments and
contours of making new Pak