Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
I had written an article, Six questions to Imran Khan, which had been published in indica News.
In response I have received this letter by email from Canada :
Dear Mr. Justice Katju
I received your forwarded article and I am thankful for that. I was born in India and my family moved to Pakistan. So, I am as much Indian as Pakistani. I have lived in Canada for more than 40 years and am not a supporter of Imran Khan by any means.
However, after thirty years Pakistan has come out of Bhutto/Shareef dynasty who were using Pakistan as ATM for their personal gain. They jointly destroyed Pakistan’s economy that only survived with constant financial injections by IMF. After a long time, Pakistan has come out of a vicious political circle and a new face has surfaced, maybe with military support.
However, I have no doubt that Imran khan is fighting with the establishment to get rid of the corruption culture and I am not sure if he will survive. The entire opposition “tola” has joined hands to remove him from power.
The main problem the country is facing is rising inflation that is due to the falling PKR against the US Dollar. The previous government kept the value of US Dollar high by creating artificial demand for PKR on borrowed US currency.
I respect your pertinent questions but the answer is not straight forward. You know Pakistan has a history of military take-overs. In the last two and half years Imran failed to deliver his promises but do not forget that he does not hold a majority in parliament and is relying on the support of coalition partners, some of them are “electable”.
Imran’s fall will be quick if he takes up military corruption while he is fighting with the civilian one. The only solution is to go slow on the military. If he succeeds, then military power will recede and the military will come under civilian rule as has happened in Turkey. That will be the right time to hold the military responsible for wrong doings.
As regards other problems, you know that Pakistan needs time to address financial difficulties and that will take time.
The Ahmadi issue is emotional/political in Pakistan and Imran can commit political suicide by tackling this issue at a time when the opposition is hungry for his blood.
Your questions are valid but ‘go slow’ is the right approach.
My reply was this :
Thank you for your email.
Let me tell you at the outset that I do not regard Imran Khan to be personally corrupt (unlike the Bhuttos and Sharifs), just as I do not regard Narendra Modi to be personally corrupt (unlike the Gandhis), nor Hitler to be personally corrupt. Hitler had no foreign bank accounts and hardly any assets when he died. Different people have different motivations. Hitler did not seek money but power.
However, I have to disagree with you on several matters you raised :
1. You say that if Imran Khan succeeds, military power will recede, and the military will come under civilian rule. I submit you are living in a fool’s paradise. Please carefully read this article I wrote some time back : https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2019/08/26/opinion-the-truth-about-the-pakistan-military.html
As you will understand after reading this article, the Pakistani army is really a big gang of dacoits which has spread its tentacles into almost every sector of the Pakistan economy. It is like Dracula, a vampire, which can only survive by sucking human blood. To think that it will ever recede or come under civilian rule, is living in la la land.
The army has been the real ruler of Pakistan since General Ayub Khan staged a military coup in 1958. They will never give up power, since that enables the senior officers to amass fortunes.
But the army needs a fig leaf of civilian rule behind which to conceal itself, and for this it has selected a puppet like Imran Khan, who while shouting and screaming against corruption, will never whisper a word against the Pakistani Cosa Nostra — the Pakistani military.
2. Imran Khan, like Modi, has cried himself hoarse that he will get back the money which some people had illegally siphoned off abroad from Pakistan, and get it back into the country. But he has not even got one such rupee back. So was it not all demagoguery, for public consumption, or a ‘jumla’, as Amit Shah termed it ?
3. You say the Ahmadi issue is an emotional issue, and Imran Khan will commit suicide if he seeks to tackle the issue.
So according to you he should turn a blind eye to the continuing killings and other atrocities on Ahmadis (who are hardly 3-4 percent of the population of Pakistan), just as the world had turned a blind eye to the horrible atrocities against the Jews during Nazi rule. Refer: https://www.rabwah.net/the-barbaric-persecution-of-ahmadis-in-pakistan/
Moreover, Imran Khan had sought and taken support of Tehreeke Labait, Khatm-e-Nabuwat, and other anti-Ahmadi religious extremists during the 2018 parliamentary elections, and he will need them in the next elections too. So why should he take action against them ? After all, he is a politician.
4. Has Imran Khan taken any action against those of his own MPs who are corrupt (some of whom had been PPP or PMLN members before switching over to PTI just before the 2018 elections), particularly the dubious ‘electables’ (the crooked sugar barons and other businessmen given PTI tickets)? Or has he given them a pass, to keep safe his own kursi? And so is he not being hypocritical when speaking against corruption ?
5. The huge and growing rise in prices of food, fuel, electricity etc and record unemployment have become a nightmare for Pakistanis (just as it has become for Indians). Why did Imran Khan not deal with this issue in his speech in Parliament ? How long will he continue blaming the opposition for all ills in Pakistan?
I have likened Imran Khan to the American con artist Soapy Smith. Like Soapy, Imran Khan too, is as smooth as they come, and a glib talker, like Modi.
I submit Imran Khan will last in power only till it suits the military and other vested interests. When his utility is over, he will find the carpet under his feet removed so fast that his head will spin