Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 29, Dated July 26, 2008
|CULTURE & SOCIETY
is causing the growth of extremism in Pakistan’
I was playing against India, losing was not an option. And not at home.
The stadium would be set ablaze or your home would be attacked. Recently,
I was commenting at a match and I saw Pakistan losing in Lahore, but Pakistani
crowds were going out with Indian flags. They were actually cheering the
Indian team. I asked myself, “Am I in Pakistan?” The old ways
— of each country trying to force a viewpoint through arms —
are ending. This was a younger generation for whom the realisation has
sunk in: we are not going to resolve this through arms. A nuclear war
is not an option.
The issue of Kashmir
must be sorted out. The people of Kashmir must come forward with a solution,
rather than India or Pakistan. For this, we must reduce the troops in
Kashmir. I was among the first, in February 2004, in the National Assembly
to object to Pakistan sending troops to Wazirstan. In my opinion, sending
armies to civilian areas to fight guerillas is counter-productive. When
you want to win the war on terror you don’t make terrorists into
heroes. You don’t give the terrorists more recruits and alienate
Pakistan is going
through a struggle for democracy. For the first time in our history, the
Chief Justice has stood up to a military dictator. So far the judiciary
has been acting as the B-team for whoever is in power. This itself has
been a stumbling block to democracy. On 9th March last year, for the first
time a Chief Justice said “no”. And he didn’t realise
the impact that “no” had in Pakistan. Neither did General
Musharraf. The people had changed. Their current political awareness is
unprecedented. The movement that followed had a temporary success when,
on 20th July 2007, he was forced to reinstate the Chief Justice.
But Musharraf had
the backing of the Bush administration. He had successfully sold the myth
that without him, the lunatics and terrorists would take over Pakistan.
We kept saying, he is the cause of terrorism and we should allow the people
to marginalise the extremists. When he announced the emergency, Benazir
had boycotted the elections. But the Bush Administration sent John D.
Negroponte and Richard Boucher to convince all of us and, within 48 hours,
she had changed her mind. Had we stuck to our guns, we would now have
had an independent election commission under an independent justice system.
For this, we have to thank the Bush administration.
The Bush administration
wants results against Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda before the US elections
in November. To this end, there is talk of using arms against people in
the tribal areas. This is an area which has a million armed men. It would
be political suicide. Dialogue is the only answer.
A recent Gallup poll
shows 84 percent of the people are against Musharraf and for the Chief
Justice. But the people’s mandate is not being followed because
the National Reconciliation Ordinance has been brokered between the head
of the Pakistan People’s Party and General Musharraf by the Bush
administration. They cannot afford to have the Chief Justice brought back
because hundreds of murder cases and corruption against them has been
wiped out through this ordinance; the most shameful one ever passed in
a civil society.
But those of us who
participated in the Long March in June know that the revolution is unstoppable.
It is irreversible. I am an optimist and I believe that we will soon have
a proper democratic government. I also believe that India and Pakistan
will be able to live as real neighbours.
(This text is
a condensed version of a keynote address by Imran Khan at the TEHELKA