Millennium Post

Captain without skipper's cap

Imran Khan, set to assume power in Pakistan, is merely another puppet playing to the notorious Army’s tunes .

'I got the money honey, if you got the time'. That could have been Imran Khan's pick-up line, before he got old enough to become a serious politician, except that the playboy cricketer did not have to throw money at a willing willow for the honeypot. Bears knock; bulls barge in.

Now, poised to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, everybody of note in the Indian media is an 'Imran Expert', with Rajdeep Sardesai giving the impression that he has a personal stake in the political fortunes of "the Pathan who could reverse swing the ball!"

Thursday morning, with the TV scrolling Imran's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leading Nawaz Sharif's PML(N), Sardesai rang up "Imran's driver" and was told by the 'sarathi' that "Imran is sleeping". Both Imran and Sardesai went to Oxford and Rajdeep's father Dileep Sardesai was a cricketer. So, the obvious connect.

But Rajdeep is also a 'Pakistan Expert', like he is an expert on all things Modi, and gives this other impression that Indo-Pakistan ties will tighten up once Imran becomes Prime Minister. The problem is that Rajdeep gushes at everyone who catches his fancy and will not shut up unless given a Samosa or a Jalebi!

So, shift to Praveen Swami and Suhasini Haider, two other journalists with more than a passing expertise in Indo-Pakistan shenanigans. Of the two, Swami is the understated, Haider is the assertive. She faults India for not talking to Pakistan. Confident and woman-like, Haider believes there is always a shot at peace, even with the devil. Father Subramanian Swamy would, given the slightest chance, break Pakistan into four to five pieces, four definitely.

Praveen Swami, however, is more grounded. He says not much will change in the Indo-Pak equation with the coronation of Imran Khan. Not as long as the Pakistan Army calls the shots in Islamabad. And, it is a legend that the army has Imran by the britches. In more ways than one!

Imran Khan, as one analyst said, is Pakistan Army's "Third Experiment" after Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. Does Imran Khan have a spine? His fast-bowling career was dogged by back-sprains though he referred to them as "rib disturbances" because the combination of "back-sprains" and "playboy" gave people wrong ideas! There is a belief that Imran, if he remains long enough at the helm, will finally become "his own man".

Be that as it may, for the current, Imran Khan is fully in the pocket of the Pakistan Army and he hasn't lost an opportunity to put a smile on the face of General Qamar Bajwa, Pakistan Army chief and de facto 'Boss of Pakistan'. A couple of weeks ago, Imran Khan said unequivocally that "Modi is Pakistan's enemy".

Imran Khan is known as "Taliban Khan". He believes terrorists are "also human", ignoring the fact there's a big difference between "human" and "humane", not just a hanging 'e' at the end of the second. His knowledge of English can't be that bad. The man went to Oxford and was married to a British socialite for nine years.

That being said, Imran Khan sitting at the top of Pakistan's political food-chain will not see changes in the Indo-Pak menu card. Rajdeep Sardesai is of the view that Imran Khan's ascendancy is proof that while Pakistanis have rejected 'religious extremism', Indians are stuck with electing Hindu zealots. To reiterate, this journalist will shut up only if there's Samosa or Jalebi on the plate. The Pakora, he has rejected.

The fact of the matter is, Sardesai and his ilk refuse to see the "Islamist" in the reverse swing that the Pakistan Army has played on the Pakistani public. All parties except Imran Khan's PTI have called out the fraudulence in the election. Several Pakistani media bigwigs are writing and talking about the backdoor army takeover.

The problem is that common Pakistanis are afflicted with a "shared psychosis" for the Pakistan Army. They are conditioned from childhood to take orders from soldier-boys. To India, it doesn't matter which civilian becomes the Pakistan Prime Minister. Like every previous Pakistan PM, Imran Khan is an army puppet andan army puppet he will remain – a captain without the skipper's cap and potty-trained by Generals.

(The views expressed are strictly personal)

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