King of reverse swing: How Pak PM-in-waiting Imran Khan mellowed his anti-India rhetoric

Imran Khan appears to have stuck a reconcillatory tone after getting elected.

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King of reverse swing: How Pak PM-in-waiting Imran Khan mellowed his anti-India rhetoric


A lot of people have gone gaga over Imran Khan, Pakistan’s dashing all-rounder cricketer who will now lead the country. Khan, a debonair playboy who has been married thrice, has morphed into a zealot espousing fundamentalist utterings that would make our homegrown communalists look tame by comparison.

As the PM-in-waiting, Khan appeared to offer an olive branch to India and talked about Kashmir while ignoring cross-border terrorism like a male chauvinist pig ignores tweets about the ‘Me Too’ movement. Khan lest we forget rode to power, with a huge pick-up from the military establishment keen to side line the two main parties – PPP and PML(N).

Khan, a master of ball-tampering (by his own admission) to generate reverse swing might have appeared conciliatory after becoming the premier in-waiting but let’s not forget what he said about India to come to power.

Khan, in his first televised speech, since becoming the PM-in-waiting said: “If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least (we) need a start. I am a person who arguably knows the most people in India because of my days in cricket. We can resolve the poverty crisis in South East Asia. The biggest problem is Kashmir," he said, suggesting that the two sides should come to the table to resolve it. 

We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan's Balochistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one," he said.  "This is not how we will grow, and it is detrimental to the sub-continent," he added.

He said good India-Pakistan relations will be beneficial for the entire region and suggested to increase trade ties between the two neighbours.

 Khan also said that he was very disappointed with the Indian media which had projected him like a "Bollywood villain" in recent weeks.

Khan, in 2011, had told CNN-IBN that even though he grew up ‘hating India’ he developed love for the country while touring it. He said: “I grew up hating India because I grew up in Lahore and there were massacres of 1947, so much bloodshed and anger. But as I started touring India, I got such love and friendship there that all this disappeared. As time passed, I realised that there’s so much we have in common. We have a similar history, there’s so much in culture that’s so similar compared to Western countries. Above all, there is so much the people of two countries (can) benefit from if we have a civilised relationship.”

However, come 2018, Khan appeared in no mood to give love a chance, as he went so far as to call former Pak PM Nawaz Sharif an Indian agent, slamming his ‘love fest with Modi’.

He said a couple of days before the election: “Much as I appreciate Nawaz campaigning for PTI through his now-obvious love fest with Modi, to save his corruption & business interests; I am alarmed that at the rate he is speaking Modi's language PTI may not be able to take in the massive exodus from PMLN.”

After the surgical strikes in 2016, Khan had said: “Even if there is a tiny blast in India, they point fingers towards Pakistan without any evidence or probe”. Not all Pakistanis are as cowardly as Nawaz Sharif. There is no bigger lie than Pakistan inciting unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s been 26 years the Indian Army is in Kashmir and the people there are fed up. Human rights are being violated and people are being sacrificed.”

He had said on Sharif: “Now when he knows that his party is facing certain defeat in the elections, he is saying the elections are going to be rigged.  Even the Indian media is now beating out the narrative that the elections will be rigged. It is a big conspiracy against the state of Pakistan," he added.

"He tried to do this through the Dawn leaks and then by claiming that the Pakistani establishment was behind the Mumbai terror attacks.”

Claiming that India, along with the international establishment wanted a ‘weak government in Pakistan’. He said: "The international establishment who are creating doubts about the elections want a weak government which can be controlled like robots but that will not happen now because the people of Pakistan wanted true democracy and the wind of change would be seen in the elections.”

Khan might be rubber-stamped by the Pak defence establishment to lead their country, but it appears that his cricketing ability to make the ball change direction at the last moment will continue into his political career.

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