Prime Minister Imran Khan has again called Pakistan’s participation in the Afghan jihad and the war against terror self-inflicted wounds, a view shared by quite a few in Pakistan. A few years back Mr Khan had asserted that the country hired the Jihadis for dollars and then went on to eliminate them for dollars. This was a scathing exposure of Ziaul Haq’s and Pervez Musharraf’s all out support for the US Afghan policies which led to tens of thousands of deaths of Pakistani civilians and army personnel. The Afghan jihad devastated Afghanistan and was followed by a civil war where armed groups fought each other on ethnic and sectarian grounds. The prolonged civil war led to tens of thousands of indigent Afghan refugees migrating to Pakistan, Iran and other countries.
What remains intriguing is that while Musharraf was hand in glove with the USA, Mr Khan never accused him of acting against the country’s interest. He took no notice of Musharraf allowing the use of Pakistani bases to launch drone attacks inside and outside the country. Similarity of views led Musharraf to invite Khan to form an alliance with his All-Pakistan Muslim League before the 2018 polls. Till recently Musharraf’s biggest crime in Khan’s view was giving an NRO to politicians instead of handing over jihadis to the USA for dollars. Is this another U-turn?
Speaking at the Foreign Office Mr Khan recounted what he considered to be his government’s successes. These included improving the country’s image. According to Mr Khan if a survey is conducted, it would prove that the county’s image has improved compared to what it was three years back. The surveys conducted recently, however, suggest otherwise. Amnesty International’s Report shows corruption has risen over the last three years; according to the latest report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Pakistan still has laws that enable militant extremism and are used to persecute the minorities; according to Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Frontiers (2020) the country’s press freedom rank dropped to 145 out of 180 countries. What’s more, it does not raise Pakistan’s stature if it is seen to be bending itself backward to please the IMF or if it continues to remain on FATF’s grey list, or if the country is known as a ‘hybrid democracy’ where the establishment plays the dominant role.