Window on South Asia

Published:  12:24 AM, 10 September 2018

Imran Khan and his regressive policies

Imran Khan and his regressive policies

It's not even a month since the world has seen Imran Khan's advent to power as the Pakistan's Prime Minister, and his mask of secularism and hollowed claims to pursue progressive policies has fallen flat. First such instance is seen in his spineless act of forcing Atif Mia, an Ahmedia academic resigning under coercion, as the member of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

An erudite to the core, Atif is a distinguished scholar and economist who had had stints as the professor in Princeton, Berkeley and Chicago universities. It's a sad commentary on the part of Pakistan polity to discriminate as Atif belongs to the minority Ahmedia community. 

It's more lamentable as Imran was thought to be a progressive politician and the last 22 years preceding his rise to the helm, witnessed promising rhetoric to the people of Pakistan and public in general had now hoped for a forward thinking politician who would take Pakistan to new heights. So it's a non starter sending wrong signals to the lot dreaming for a respectable place for Pakistan among the International community and redeem its battered image.

Importantly and equally sadly, Imran Khan and his party Tehreek e Insaf Pakistan (PTI), meekly caved in to the pressure of the fundamentalist forces to remove the Ahmediya economist from the crucial responsibility. 

The most right wing orthodox political outfit, Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is the most vocal critic of the Ahmedias and its leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi , known for his religious intolerance recently described Ahmedia sect's founder Mirza Gholam Ahmed as a subordinate prophet . 

Such acerbic remarks with Imran in charge does not behave well for the country which is practically isolated from the rest of the world due to its fragile anti terror policies and for transporting terror to India and Afghanistan.

On government's part the justification to get rid of Ahmedia Atif Mia, is pathetically feeble. The Pakistan Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhary in a statement justified the resignation as the government "wanted to maintain unity". There is no remorse or decency on Atif's exit. 

There was another faint argument doing rounds in PTI circles is the government wanted to move forward together with all religious scholars and social classes . Message, therefore, is loud and clear that no minority member will be tolerated. Meanwhile, the victim Atif Mia is believed to have disclosed that the government succumbed to the pressure of the Mullahs leading to his resignation.

Ahmedias in Pakistan have been targeted from as early as early fifties when fierce anti Ahmedia communal clashes were seen in the country's streets, and during Gen Zia's regime hatred for the Ahmedias was at its peak and they were formally declared as non Muslims. 

In 1984, a draconian anti Ahmedia law was introduced and they were severely ostracized. As many as 264 Ahmedias have been killed in Pakistan and thousands injured. This minority sect's repeated demands for equal rights have fallen into deaf years on successive regimes and persecution on them has spiraled manifold. 

In the most recent case of targeted killing, barely a month ago an Ahmedia was killed outside a mosque in Faisalabad, Punjab drawing no protests. A minuscule number of human rights activists active in Pakistan are surely missing Asma Jahangir today as she would have been registered vehement protests.

Here, it is not of context to mention that famous nuclear scientist, Dr Abdus Salam of international fame and a Nobel Laureate, has not yet received any worthwhile recognition in his native Pakistan as he happens to be an Ahmedia. Nothing could be more deplorable!

Imran Khan looks to have belied the hopes and aspirations of the younger generation of Pakistanis. It seems Imran's dream of a 'Naya Pakistan' remains a distant reality and if Imran with his colorful and illustrious past as a triumphant cricket captain cannot transform Pakistan to a modern country, no one possibly can. He has started becoming fallible rather too soon. With country's economy in tatters and US coming down heavily with sanctions, future of Pakistan looks bleak.

It is understood Imran is doing tightrope walking balancing between the military and the zealots, but he is expected to show some courage and grit in the overall interests of Pakistan. His first marriage to Jemima Goldsmith, a Jew drew heavy criticism but he withstood his personal interests. 

Now to prove himself before his country where lies his first and foremost allegiance , he should take some bold measures so that minority is assured if safety and security and Pakistan marches ahead for a naya Pakistan or remains threatened with possible and steady disintegration. Surely, Atif Mia's case is a disturbing trend.

The writer is a security analyst and columnist on topical issues. Views expressed are personal

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