print
memri
July 31, 2018 No.
7599

Pakistan's Next Prime Minister Imran Khan Says Pakistanis 'Think The U.S. Is Not Fighting A War Against Terror; It's A War Against Islam'; 'Jewish Lobby... Controls The Global Media'

Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-Pakistani-politician, is set to become Pakistan's next prime minister.

In the Islamic world, you rarely find female Sufi mystics. Bushra Maneka, a 39-year-old divorcee, is a rare mystic and faith healer whom, among other such mystics, Imran Khan would often consult during his political career. In January 2018, it had emerged that Bushra predicted a miracle remedy: Khan would become Pakistan's prime minister if he married her.[1] He did so, and her prediction came true in less than seven months.


After his electoral victory, Imran Khan addresses Pakistanis (image: Dawn.com).

Khan, who had previously divorced British heiress Jemima Goldsmith as well as British-Pakistani journalist Reham Khan, married Bushra Maneka. Days before the July 25, 2018 elections in Pakistan, Khan also told a British newspaper that he had not seen his bride's face until after the wedding was solemnized.[2] Khan's image as a playboy who is accused of fathering out of wedlock a daughter from U.S. citizen Sita White and who strode the stage of international cricket in the 1980s has been transformed into the image of an orthodox person who did not feel the need to see his bride's face, even though Islam permits it.

Pakistan was created as a homeland for Indian Muslims. Its leaders have been caught in a bind: Should the state of Pakistan be transformed on the path of Islam or as a democratic country for Muslims? In this ongoing struggle, Pakistani politicians and religious groups have often been successful in shaping Pakistan's identity along religious lines.

On July 26, 2018, after it became clear that he would form the next government in Pakistan, Imran Khan announced: "I want to share the kind of Pakistan I envision – the type of state that was established in Medina, where widows and the poor were taken care of."[3] Religious groups describe Pakistan as Medina-e-Sani ("the second Medina"), after the Saudi city which became the first Islamic state founded by Prophet Muhammad.

"When I Wage A War For My Freedom, It Is Jihad; It's A Verse Of The Koran; It's Straight Clear"; "It Is Shameful That We Call Ourselves Muslims And Fear Shari'a"

In 2012, after visiting the injured Malala Yousafzai, who would go on to win the Nobel prize, Khan told journalists in Peshawar that the war in Afghanistan was jihad. A Pakistani newspaper published a report titled "War In Afghanistan Is Jihad, Says Imran."[4] Khan also said: "Jihad is a very simple thing. When I wage a war for my freedom, it is jihad. It's a verse of the Koran; it's straight clear. [When] one fights for his freedom, it's jihad. Those who are fighting in Afghanistan against foreign occupation, it's jihad."[5]

It was perhaps due to this aspect of Khan's ideological thinking that about a week before the July 25, 2018 parliamentary and provincial elections in Pakistan, veteran jihadi leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil joined Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) political party. Khalil, who founded the Harkatul Jihad Al-Islami (HUJI) and Hakartul Mujahideen, "together with hundreds of his mates and Islamic scholars, announced support for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf."[6] On September 30, 2014, the U.S. Department Of The Treasury designated Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224.[7]

In May 2014, the jihadi group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ("Movement of the Pakistani Taliban") released a video clip in which Imran Khan tells an audience: "By ending the politics in the name of language and [territorial] nationalism, [I] will gather the entire Pakistan in the name of La Ilaha Illallah [there is no deity but Allah]."[8] These Arabic words are used to proclaim one's faith in Islam. And Pakistan's religious identity is sought to be shaped around it by religious and jihadi forces in Pakistan. In fact, there is a popular slogan in Pakistan: What is the meaning of Pakistan? The masses respond in chorus: La Ilaha Illallah.

In a 2009 television interview, Khan justified the Taliban's enforcement of shari'a in Swat district, stating: "Our so-called liberal class is afraid that shari'a has arrived; one doesn't [know] what would happen; hands will be chopped off [as punishments by the Taliban]. Shari'a is what makes us human... Shari'a brings justice and humanity in society; it's the name of a welfare state..."[9]

Khan observed: "[Justifying the shari'a rule in Swat district] Look how wrong is [the late U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard] Holbrooke's statement that shari'a rule will be very bad. Now, tell me, will they teach us which Islam to follow?... When people talk of shari'a, what is that shari'a? The common people, who are Pakistani, they all want shari'a..."[10] In another interview, Khan said: "It is shameful that we call ourselves Muslims and fear shari'a; what is shari'a? Shari'a is the path of the Prophet [Muhammad] peace be upon him. If you are a Muslim, you want to follow shari'a."[11]

"It Was Not Until Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses That My Understanding Of Islam Began To Develop"; "Philosophers [Honored In The West Are] Like Darwin, Who With His Half-Baked Theory Of Evolution..."

In 2011 when he started holding public rallies, a website republished an article by Imran Khan in which he reminisced about his schooling and college years. Khan wrote: "I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal [the Islamist national poet of Pakistan]. The Islamic [studies] class was not considered to be serious; when I left school, I was considered amongst the elite of the country because I could speak English and wore Western clothes. Despite periodically shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad' [Long Live Pakistan] at school functions, I considered my own culture backward and Islam an outdated religion."[12]

Khan observed: "When I went to [the University of] Oxford, already burdened with this hang-up from my school days, things were no easier. At the university, not just Islam but all religions were considered anachronisms. Science had replaced religion, and if something couldn't be logically proved it did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers [honored in the West are] like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution supposedly disproved the creation of men and hence religion."[13]


Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Maneka (face covered) (image: Financialexpress.com).

Through the 1980s, when the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad was underway, Khan began seeing God in sports. He noted: "There was a sequence of events in the 80s that moved me toward God. As the Koran says: 'There are signs for people of understanding.' One of them was cricket. As I was a student of the game, the more I understood the game, the more I began to realize that what I considered to be chance was, in fact, the will of Allah, the pattern which became clearer with time. But it was not until Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses that my understanding of Islam began to develop. People like me who were living in the Western world bore the brunt of anti-Islam prejudice that followed the Muslim reaction to the book. We were left with two choices: fight or flight. Since I felt strongly that the attacks on Islam were unfair, I decided to fight."[14]

Khan added: "[A] Muslim has dual function, one toward God and the other toward fellow human beings. The greatest impact of believing in God for me meant that I lost all fear of human beings. The Koran liberates man from man when it says that life and death and respect and humiliation are God's jurisdiction, so we do not have to bow before other human beings."[15]

"There Is A Very Big Lobby In America, And It's A Very Powerful Lobby, And That's Basically The Israeli Lobby; It Wants The Pakistani Nuclear Program Rolled Back"

In 2012, Khan was asked by Pakistan's Aaj TV about the decline in Pakistani media coverage, about a year after his entry into politics, of his political activities in Pakistan. Khan said: "The problem is that our competition is with two governments: the central government on the one side and the provincial government in Punjab. They have massive funds for advertisements [to give to pliable newspapers and television channels]... Advertisements play a big part and because of it, a small minority, the Jewish lobby, which controls the global media..."[16]

In another interview, Khan was asked to explain the U.S.'s dominant agenda in Pakistan by Dawn News television. Khan responded: "There is a very big lobby in America, and it's a very powerful lobby, and that's basically the Israeli lobby. It wants the Pakistani nuclear program rolled back. When they use the word 'secure,' it basically means roll back. Actually, it is their dominant agenda that is coming to the fore; they are consistent about it. And that lobby is very powerful. The one which is trying to get an attack launched on Iran, the same lobby is after the nuclear program of Pakistan and it is the Israeli lobby."[17]

In 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump decided to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Khan condemned the decision and said: "People like Trump do not consider Muslims to be humans. Therefore, the entire world must rise up in protest against this decision."[18]

"[Imran Khan] Liked The Defiance Of [Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali] Bhutto Who Had Committed Pakistan To A Thousand-Year War With India"

In 2011, when Khan had just entered politics, his autobiography, titled "Pakistan: A Personal History," was published. In a review of the book, noted Pakistani writer Khaled Ahmed observed: "Following the completion of his A-levels in 1972 from Aitchison College Lahore, Imran went to Oxford (p.57). He already liked the defiance of [former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali] Bhutto who had committed Pakistan to a thousand-year war with India [in a speech delivered at] at the UN. But Bhutto fell early enough because of his embedded flaw of a feudal mind (p.40)."[19]

Khaled Ahmed noted: "Imran imbibed a strong sense of personal destiny. He recalls: 'Pir Gi [Sufi mystic] from Sahiwal said I would be very famous and make my mother a household name' (p.89). Imran had announced his first retirement when he met another clairvoyant: 'Baba Chala lived in a little village just a few miles from the Indian border. He certainly had not heard bout [sic] my retirement... the man looked at me and said I had not left my profession... It is the will of Allah; you are still in the game' (p.93).

"But the man who stood by him as his spiritual mentor was Mian Bashir (d.2005) who shocked him by naming the Koranic ayat [Koranic verse] his mother used to read to baby Imran and predicted that Allah had turned the tables in his favour in the Lamb-Botham libel suit whose reparations would have pauperised Imran (p.189). Mian Bashir also disarmed a sceptical Jemima [the British heiress] by accurately guessing her three secret wishes (p.120)."[20]

Khaled Ahmed concluded his review of Khan's autobiography with these words: "Imran has read his Allama Iqbal and [Iranian writer] Ali Shariati, but he may finally be more like Sayyed Qutb [the ideologue whose ideas are espoused by Al-Qaeda], too reactive, too much a politician of extremes..."[21]


Imran Khan's first wife Jemima Goldsmith shared a picture of herself along with Tyrian White (left) on social media and called her her stepdaughter from Sita White.

"Say 'No' To [American] Aid; We Do Not Want This Aid; It Is Destroying Our Country"; "Disengaging From The U.S. Would Protect Pakistan"

In 2011, when his party was still insignificant, Khan criticized the U.S.-led war on terror and blamed the Pakistani elite for being complicit in it. Opposing U.S. aid to Pakistan, he said: "I have been warning against this for a while, because according to all the polls taken in Pakistan, all the surveys, over 80 percent of the Pakistanis think that the U.S. is an enemy. Why do they think that of them as an enemy? Because they think the U.S. is not fighting a war against terror. It's a war against Islam. So, if 80 percent of the population thinks like that, then if you take it to the army, surely 80 percent of the armed personnel would also be thinking like that. That is why it is very dangerous."[22]

Khan added: "The feeling in Pakistan is that we have a ruling elite that to fill its own pockets, rather than conducting reforms, which the country badly needs, rather than spending money on education, on human development, fighting corruption, setting up institutions, rule of law... What they are doing is taking a shortcut, taking money from the U.S., pretending to be these people who are fighting Islamic radicalism – the word used is 'bulwark' against terrorism and Islamic extremism... They basically want the situation to continue just so the aid keeps coming, benefiting them, while the country sinks. They make a lot of money."[23]

The PTI leader added: "So people feel that the time has come for a change. Say 'no' to [American] aid. We do not want this aid. It is destroying our country. We want to stand on our own feet, be a sovereign country, and take responsibility for whatever happens within our borders. We should be... A sovereign, credible, democratic government should be responsible for [preventing] all terrorism from its soil. But it can only do that if it is sovereign. If it is perceived to be a stooge of America – taking dollars to be a hired gun for the Americans, then all we are doing is fanning extremism, and this is a never-ending war which will destroy Pakistan."[24]

In April 2014, Khan told a television channel: "I have no doubt that disengaging from the U.S. would protect Pakistan from the destruction that we have witnessed in the past ten years – destruction that claimed 50,000 victims and inflicted over 100 billion dollars in damage on the economy. Pakistan has become more extremist, the influence of the extremist groups has grown, and there are millions of explosive devices and ammunition throughout the country.

"Seventy percent of the industry has come to a standstill in the border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where our party heads the local government. We earnestly desire peace, and disengaging from the U.S. is the only way to achieve this goal. At the same time, we need peaceful ties with our Afghan and Iranian neighbors, because Pakistan cannot sustain the consequences of the kind of military recklessness it faced in the past."[25]

 

[1] Pakistantoday.com.pk (Pakistan), January 9, 2018.

[2] DailyMail.co.uk (UK), July 22, 2018.

[3] Dawn.com (Pakistan), July 26, 2018.

[7] Treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2653.aspx, September 30, 2014.