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Friends in low places

Imran Khan is nothing if not a man of contradictions. On the one hand, he is wont to point out how Pakistan has paid a very dear price for supporting the American war on terror. Similarly, he likes to berate Washington for treating this country as nothing more than a hired gun. On both counts, the PTI chairman is not wrong.
But anything beyond this narrative sees the former cricketer lose his footing. For there is one simple truth that Kaptaan has failed to grasp: backing the other side in the GWOT renders the country party to the conflict. Thereby invalidating the otherwise legitimate claim that this is not our war.
Thus it is extremely troubling to see how the PTI and Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil are cosying up to each other. After all, the latter is a man who knows a thing or two about the Fourth Schedule; being the former chief of the globally proscribed Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). This was outlawed by the US back in 2001. Pakistan followed suit the following year. And in 2014, the State Department included him on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). Khalil has long been accused of having ties to Al Qaeda. Today, he is part of the Army’s militant mainstreaming project; under banner of political party Ansar-ul-Ummah (AuM).
Yet it is Imran, the man, who, by all accounts, is poised to become Pakistan’s next Prime Minister, that continues to play a most dangerous game. One that began in earnest when his party held Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last government; earmarking a budget of almost Rs600 million for the controversial madrassa run by “Father of the Taliban” Sami-ul-Haq. In return, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) is expected to support PTI at the ballot.
All of which lends credence to Kaptaan’s detractors who claim that he is batting on someone else’s wicket. Not least because with less than a week to go before the vote — the PTI chairman is doing nothing to rid himself of his ‘Taliban Khan’ handle. Rather, he has once more returned to a favourite pet topic: how the Army is Pakistan’s only functioning state institution. Of course, he does not go on to ponder the impact of interrupted democracy on the larger picture.



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