The cricketing analogy cannot be avoided. Fast bowler Imran tormented India for long with his blistering pace, but Pakistan PM Imran has now been put on the backfoot, beaten and bowled by an impatient India, tired of its tolerance and restraint being taken as a batsman on a weak wicket. The reversal of aggression has now made Imran shun swing and take to selective spin.
His address to the joint session of Pakistan Parliament, ‘goodwill gesture’ of releasing captured Indian pilot Abhinandan and topping it with a call for talks, all smack of a googly in the works. First his address to Parliament, actually a proxy address to India, was an attempt to project his spell at power as wanting only growth and development for the people of his country as the prime objective. And he goes on to argue and ask why, given such national goals, would Pakistan want a war that would thwart these very goals. Quite logical, indeed.
Imran then makes a grandiose announcement that the IAF pilot will be released forthwith and then parallelly parades it as an honest effort to make up with India. He quotes his earlier attempts to reach out to Indian PM Modi and the absence of response. And finally, putting the peace ball in India’s gloves, he then harangues on the virtue of talks: ‘Those who started the wars did not know where it would end.’ ‘If war happens, it would not be in Modi’s or my control.’ ‘Can we afford such miscalculation?’ But, simultaneously, this peacenik keeps up the rhetoric on Pakistan’s preparedness, justifies its intrusions into Indian territory even while denying summarily all of India’s evidence-backed claims.
To us, Indians, at the risk of being dubbed jingoist, all such talk sound like a familiar devil with a different face, quoting the all familiar, unchanged ‘scripture’. Pakistan has seen several ‘democratic‘ governments in the past. In the last 50 years alone from the Bhuttos to Nawaz Sharif to the latest Imran, all of these elected leaders have consistently imitated doves vis-a-vis India. But even just outside the precincts of their Parliament as well as in the distant icy mountains of Kashmir and borders along Punjab, the doves, assuming they are doves, really have no voice or relevance. It is the ISI and military that call the shots. The moment a democratic dove is seen or heard to be cooing beyond its script, an army coup happens.
All major terror attacks and intrusions against India – be it Kargil, Mumbai, Pathankot and the latest Pulwama – had happened when democracy was supposed to be reigning high in Pakistan. Needless to add under military rule, be it Zia-ul-Haq or Musharraf, terrorists have only been more emboldened. It is no secret that Pakistan is the terror capital of the world, harbouring, granting sanctuary, training and despatching terrorists from the likes of JeM, Dawood Ibrahim, Taliban, al Qaeda and who not.
Terrorism is a cottage industry here with ease of doing terror transactions being the best in the world thanks to a fertile recruiting field, abundant availability of any kind or brands and make of arms and ammunition, from bombs to missiles of any country of origin and, above all, a friendly, patronising official supervisory mechanism that looks their way very keenly. Indeed, jihad is a sustaining force of Pak officialdom.
This is not a certificate from Hindu India. Wholly Islamic nations like Afghanistan, Iran, etc., have discovered in Pak a terribly dangerous neighbour. The most wanted terrorist of our time, Osama bin Laden, was plucked out of the backyard of Pak capital Islamabad by the US which did not bother about flying across oceans and air spaces of sovereign nations to serve its interests by securing its quarry. The revenge for 9/11 was exacted then and there with O.B. Laden buried at sea. No global validation. No trial. No judgement. Period.
On the contrary, most wanted terrorists, marked as such by the UN to US to a host of countries, like Masood Azhar, Dawood, etc., who have wreaked havoc on Indian soil from Indian soil – (the semantic, anti-constitutional monstrosity PoK, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) – are thriving happily in Pak, well-protected and well-fed. Indeed, with Azhar in his immediate vicinity, it calls for real gall for Imran to call India for talks and to make the latter look like the reticent respondent.
One doesn’t have to be a military expert or a primetime pundit or a savvy politician or a great diplomat to see through this obvious, puerile lie. Even political debutant Imran cannot be granted the benefit of doubt for naivette. His claim of generosity is a no ball because it happened partly under international pressure and mostly owing to India’s strong stand of unconditional release. This paper PM’s pitch for peace is a wide as he can muster neither the courage nor the control to overrule the reckless military and ISI. That is his real position in the farcical democracy that Pak is.
Well, Imran knows it and the people who voted him know it and are, therefore, under no illusions. But the duck-out all-rounder appears to have scored a ton in the minds of some of his media and activist fans in India, much to the glee of Pak establishment and media. One worthy here says Imran has won the day by taking the moral high ground. Another scribe takes this opportunity to spew venom on Modi who, in her words, has been ‘outdone and outshone in diplomacy, war strategy and public outreach by a swashbuckling cricket captain’. Surely, it is strange and surprising that such smart characters have somehow missed the fact that the key player in the swashbuckling captain’s team is the most wanted outlaw and terrorist answering to the name Masood Azhar.
Now, that’s not cricket.
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