By Frank O’Brien,
Troy, New York, United States of America.
When my dear, dear friend and brother, Sajjad Amin Bangash, first introduced me to the agenda of Imran Khan, I did whatever any red blooded American would do, looking up video interviews that he’d done over the years. I got to tell you that I was absolutely impressed, and sold on him, since his agenda heavily includes social justice issues, and fighting against corruption, which has been endemic in Pakistan for years, since a lot of the political parties are run as family types of operations, putting the word nepotism in the spot light.
Even during the former president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf period, during which time, Pakistan was struggling a lot from not only being under military rule, but plagued by the rift with India, and the on again, off again disagreements that have gone on with India. Corruption, let’s face it, is a sad part of life in not only Pakistan, but also places here in the States, where in upstate New York we’ve had our fair or unfair share of politicians dipping into, or giving into bribes. Much like in the case of Pakistan, we too have had a record of nepotism going back well over 100 years, the parties being run like machines, ergo the political machine.
Though I’m still learning a lot still about Pakistan, I imagine that their political machines run much like our own over here, when elections roll around is when you finally see the politicians slapping hands, kissing babies and schmoozing with the average people, all in the name of getting as many votes as possible, and damn to hell when it is all over, and they can get back to bettering their golf average. The average politician has a hard time convincing many a cynical conservative in this day and age from the more than checkered past that surrounds the reputations, or stereotypes that politicians have garnered, much like lawyers, or as like the old joke goes,”What do lawyers and sharks have in common?,”
The answer being that “They have to constantly be on the move or they’ll die.” I would add to this that they are like sharks in that they’ll eat you up, and spit you out if you aren’t careful, which is more appropriately descriptive of politicians. About the only 3 politicians I admire are our former, and unfortunately dead US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Here’s a huge similarity between Pakistan and Uncle Sam, in that if you asked the average Pakistani, you’d likely only get them to name but a hand full of politicians that they may have liked a lot.
What I learned about Imran Khan, was that he is very big on social justice, desiring that people of all stripes having it better than they’ve had it so far, not being stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder. Fair wages, good health care[hopefully free or covered by a national health care bill….not like the damn Obamacare one!] and decent living conditions are more likely what you’ll find within Imran’s platform, since he might be from a privileged back ground, but he like me, identifies with the average Pashtun, and not as or so much with the really elite and well off.
He is in essence a man of the people, truly pulling for the small guy to win the grudge match, which is what life is like for so many over there, and here in the States. He and I agree also that Americas perpetual War on Terror has likely created more terrorists than it has neutralized, basically from the indiscriminate nature that pervades the landscape of counter terrorism, throwing good people in with the bad, from not having looked hard enough at whether someone really is a terrorist or sympathizer. In other words he’s not like these neoconservatives here in seeing peace at any price as the solution, since it only causes radicalization to mistreat those who are truly innocent, and who don’t have ties with extremism of any kind.
Another of his positions that impressed the heck out of me was his conviction that the US needs to give more respect to sovereign countries, rather than giving money and military equipment in exchange for letting the US do whatever it damn well wants or desires. for all too long the “ugly American” was known for having his big bankroll, besides his appetite for exploiting countries that had business interests with Uncle Sam.
Naturally this runs counter to anyone having a good relationship with American businessmen and political representatives, since it is and has been greatly lopsided in the Americans spreading so much money to curry favor with the leaders in smaller countries. This is where bribery and corruption have gone hand in hand with each other, especially when the military was in control, but also even when the country’s officials were elected as one would hope for in a democracy. As a former and famous cricketer, and one time playboy, Imran has seen things from all sides, from both sides of the tracks if you will, so as he got older his social consciousness grew by leaps and bounds, his heart being deeply moved by the plight of the very poor. He’s been involved with helping various hospitals and with cancer research, so he has a knowledge of what is more likely to work when it comes to affordable health care, and as it is, wanting everyone to get only the very best of it.
He is in essence much like Bernie Sanders, who himself might be a social democrat, but also believes in having a strong army for defense. Rather than stifling debate, he welcomes it, seeing it being true democracy working on all levels, and not merely among the elite. As has been the new normal for the US military, the Pakistan army first approached America’s War on Terror as if it were getting its lessons from Uncle Sam, carrying the fight into the tribal areas only to wind up causing civilian casualties, making enemies ergo of some of the very people that could have helped more in fighting the war.
Your average Pakistani general, especially the well known Inter-Services Intelligence, have known darn well that to win a fight you need to have all the people on board with you, rather than fighting things as you decide it is, and to hell with what others may think. For way too long the US military thought it could run the show as it saw fit, but ever since the cowboy antics of Seal Team 6 in killing Osma Bin Laden, their not having shared their plan with the Pakistanis, the level of trust has gotten to be as low as it has ever been in a long time. Imran’s picture for this is to have mutual respect, with both sides showing respect for the other, without there being any hidden tricks up the sleave or there being any hidden agendas.
Naturally the out sourced jobs from when American corporations did this en masse, need to be kept in someway so that foreign countries don’t wind up suffering at the expense of a corporation radically pulling out prematurely. Also the military’s having in essence broken the treaty of 1948 by going into the tribal areas to fight terrorism has caused a lot of tension, even within the army itself since there are more dead soldiers now from the war than the US has averaged in Iraq and Afghanistan put together. Imran firmly believes, rightly so, that the US should consider first and foremost the interests of the Pakistani people, and not just that of the army and political leadership. Without a peoples being behind you, you stand very little chance of accomplishing very much of anything, so America has to lose it’s arrogant stance, or it’s holier than thou stance which has gotten it in so much hot water since 9/11.
The US’s CIA is more used to overthrowing, or destabilizing governments that it doesn’t like, instead of actually trying to win the hearts and minds of the average people. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, PTI, or the Pakistan Movement for Justice that Imran Khan heads was founded by him in 1996, slowly making electoral gains from people being fed up with getting the same old, same old horse hockey. He is for a free and unencumbered justice system since under the Musharraf regime so many judges were fired or unlawfully detained, which can’t stand if you are to have a free and just nation, and he believes that political dialogue, and not necessarily military solutions can help win the so-called War on Terror.
I agree since the more you brutalize your enemy, the stronger many times it makes the terror groups, much like the darn British found out in Ireland all these last several hundred years. We both strongly believe that when you back dictatorships at the expense of the democratic sovereignty of the people, you only encourage hatred and alienation instead of building up trust and goodwill. The number of killed Pakistani soldiers had up till recently reached an unsustainable number of killed from the War on Terror, there being rumblings as to how long it would be before there would be a revolt in the army from the huge casualties it was taking from Uncle Sam’s perpetual war. With a population of just over half of America’s, Pakistan is a developing democracy, much like America’s right after the successful nixing of British control, again, a shared legacy, the difference only being that America is predominantly Christian in its outlook.
Being that we are of the same “book” as Muslims would maybe put it, surely we can find that happy middle ground that can save face for both of us, continuing down a road of reconciliation and peace instead of one where war would be imminent, and involving the world’s two other great powers, Russia and China. The ball is in the court of Uncle Sam, waiting to be served up with the more positive ideas being suggested here. Here’s to hoping that Imran Khan is that man who can bring all sides to the negotiating table, and with the blessing of Allah, win the day for peace and tranquility. Naya Saal Mubarak & Allah Rahm Kare.