Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan identifies so strongly with the opposition in
India that he often behaves like the chief minister of an Indian state. This indicates that not only does he spend considerable time following Indian politics, he believes he can play a role in influencing it through his utterances. Unfortunately for him, he does not realise how much his psyche is getting programmed into ‘thinking Indian’. When he rants against ‘Modi’ (with a hard ‘d’) and the RSS, he naturally positions himself with those who identify as ‘progressive and secular’, thereby forgetting entirely that he is the Prime Minister of a country theocratic in principle, the result of a partition based on religious lines.
It is only natural that, with this disoriented approach, he keeps running himself out (to use parlance he would easily understand). The latest is his declaration out of the blue – to the chagrin of the Pakistani establishment and people – that he would allow the people of Kashmir a referendum on whether they would like to join Pakistan or become an independent entity. For a nation that has made annexing Kashmir the single point focus of its existence since independence, particularly after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, this comes as a total abandonment of long held policy. The thousands of youths who were dispatched to what they believed was Jannat, died thinking they were fighting for Jinnah’s cause. Now, their PM would be happy to barter all that away because of his desire to seem generous and statesmanlike.
Imran subconsciously knows that, no matter how politics would have it, the Kashmiris would prefer India to Pakistan should there actually be the plebiscite Pakistan traditionally has gone on about. (That nation conveniently ignores the preconditions to the plebiscite – complete withdrawal of Pakistan from areas they occupy.) Hence, he thinks Kashmiris in India could be better motivated by the independence idea. Unfortunately, this utterance made during ‘elections’ in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, has had quite another effect. It has energised sections of the people to raise the demand for ‘azaadi’ from Pakistan itself. A prominent mainstream politician, miffed at the continued rigging of elections to favour Pakistan’s ruling party, has declared that Indian help could be sought to achieve this objective.
Pakistan is already having a tough time countering the popular insurgency in Balochistan. The rise of the Taliban has raised the spectre of ‘Greater Afghanistan’ which would include the Pashtun parts of Pakistan. Now, thanks to Imran, the disenfranchised people of POK have further realised how similar their situation is to that of the Bengalis of erstwhile East Pakistan. India seems to be winning the war without fighting!