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HomeNewsOpinion | Imran Khan is planning a comeback. Here's what he told...

Opinion | Imran Khan is planning a comeback. Here’s what he told me.


Imran Khan, the previous prime minister of Pakistan, is going through a number of threats of disqualification and arrest. On Aug. 21, the federal government charged him underneath the antiterrorism act; he was granted bail till Sept. 1. In the meantime, he’s additionally set to seem in a contempt of court case on Aug. 31.

He just lately invited me over for a cup of tea at his Islamabad residence. I’ve identified Khan for nearly 30 years and I used to be curious to listen to how he sees the subsequent stage of his political profession. Wearing informal garments, he seemed match and alert.

In the middle of our dialog, he acknowledged that he had been unable to satisfy many of the promises he made after the 2018 election. He tried to elucidate the explanations for the failures, which he primarily ascribed to the restrictions imposed on his energy by members of parliament who weren’t underneath his management. He denied the truth that he was put in in workplace with the assistance of the military establishment. He claimed that the final elections had been rigged towards him. He mentioned that intelligence businesses supported unbiased candidates who defeated his occasion’s candidates: “I shaped the federal government with the assistance of the identical independents who had been managed by the intelligence, they usually betrayed me ultimately.”

Khan confessed that his authorities was very weak and mentioned that he relied on the intelligence businesses to get his budgets by parliament. He additionally mentioned that he was too depending on his former navy intelligence chief, Gen. Faiz Hameed. When Faiz accomplished his tenure and was transferred to Peshawar, Khan tried to delay the overall’s posting. “That was the start,” he informed me, noting that from this level on his relations with the military had been troubled.

He defined different causes behind his variations with the navy. “I needed good relations with China and I took a tough line towards the U.S. — however the navy requested me to be well mannered to the U.S.” Surprisingly, he by no means blamed the USA for his downfall in the entire dialog. He’s now making an attempt to manage his ties with Washington, which implies reducing again on discuss of foreign conspiracies.

One more reason was his hard stance towards Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Khan mentioned that the military management requested him to not hit Modi under the belt as a result of it would jeopardize back-channel diplomacy. (After I requested the spokesperson of Pakistan Military, Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar, about Khan’s declare, he contradicted it, saying that the navy had by no means stopped him from saying something about Modi.)

Throughout our dialog, Khan made fascinating claims about his visit to Moscow in February, simply because the invasion of Ukraine was getting underneath manner. He mentioned that he made the trip with the total consent of the navy management. He had no thought, he mentioned, that the Russians would launch an assault on Ukraine throughout his go to. He informed me about his three-hour assembly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which included talks a few gas pipeline project. “There are misconceptions about Putin,” he mentioned, “however his spouse is Muslim.”

This assertion raises loads of questions. Putin divorced his first wife Lyudmila a few years in the past. Possibly Khan was speaking about Alina Kabaeva, who was born into a half-Muslim family in Uzbekistan. She is extensively rumored to be Putin’s girlfriend however there has by no means been any public indication that the 2 of them have ever married.

Khan thanked me for taking a stand towards the torture of his shut aide Shahbaz Gill. I informed him that many journalists and activists faced the identical sort of torture when he was prime minister. Khan denied this, saying he by no means ordered anybody to assault or censor journalists. I reminded him that, as prime minister, he was nonetheless answerable for the actions of his subordinates, whom he might, on the very least, punish in the event that they dedicated crimes. Why, for instance, was no motion taken after the capturing of Absar Alam, considered one of his most outspoken critics within the press? To my shock he claimed to be unaware of the incident.

In the long run, he mentioned the final word answer to the political crises in Pakistan is an early election. He was clearly feeling assured that issues would possibly change earlier than November. He assured me that he’s extra highly effective than Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who solely guidelines Islamabad, the capital, whereas he, Khan, is ruling two large provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He was conscious that he is likely to be disqualified in a dispute over marketing campaign finance however informed me that he nonetheless plans to make use of his management over these two provincial governments to cripple the federal authorities within the occasion that he’s arrested. His loyalists are threatening to take over Islamabad.

Khan might certainly win. However he’s taking part in with fireplace. Pakistan has already skilled the conviction and disqualification of a sitting prime minister and two federal ministers. My encounter with him confirmed clearly that Khan is taking his state of affairs very calmly. I hope that he’ll rethink — for the great of the nation.

Pakistan is presently going through a nationwide emergency within the type of floods which have already taken greater than 1,000 lives. This isn’t a superb time for political agitation.

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