Pakistan polls: Why India would need to deal with Taliban Imran Khan and Hafiz Saeed
New Delhi, July 24: It is a well known fact that the all powerful army in Pakistan controls almost everything. One also witnessed the clout the army where Nawaz Sharif was concerned and how it behaved like the judge, jury and the executioner.
The elections in Pakistan are round the corner and it would be a very closely watched event especially in India. The two persons, Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf, with whom India has dealt with in the past are out of the picture. This would essentially mean that whoever is elected to power, India would have a new face to deal with.
The big players in the Pakistan elections this year are Imran Khan, Bilawal Bhutto and very unfortunately Lashkar-e-Tayiba boss, Hafiz Saeed. The power military has put its weight behind Imran Khan.
In Imran Khan, the ISI and army have seen several benefits. He has openly supported the idea of opening dialogue with Jihadi outfits in Pakistan. He has been vocal about accommodating the terrorists, who unleash havoc in India, which has earned him the name Taliban Khan.
Going by the events in Pakistan, it still appears as though Nawaz Sharif's PML-N is in the lead.
However officials in India closely watching the elections say that this time they are sure that the army is controlling the entire process and if they wish, they could ensure that Imran Khan goes through.
Bilwal Bhutto on the other hand too is taking a shot. India has dealt with his party, the Pakistan People's Party. However Bhutto and his party appear to be on the back-foot and through the campaign have failed to create any buzz.
The army control:
When Sharif was barred from contesting the elections and sent off to jail, Pakistan was under the caretaker government of Nasir Mulk. During this period the army and ISI took control of almost everything and even ensured media space was not given to both the PML-N and PPP.
It is clear from the way the army is controlling events, that they want Imran Khan to come out tops in the poll battle. Analysts in India say that all efforts would be made to ensure that Khan comes close to the majority mark in the 342 member National Assembly of Pakistan. They also point out that in Khan they have a dummy and even if were to take the hot seat, he would have hardly any role in strategic affairs and foreign policy.
This would come as very bad news for India as all the talking would be done by the army, which has always taken a hardline stance. This would also signal the escalation of violence along the border and in Jammu and Kashmir as well.
The Hafiz Saeed factor:
Saeed, the 26/11 mastermind had taken a shot at legitimising himself by floating a political outfit called the Milli Muslim League. However his plans suffered a set back when the US state department amended its Foreign Terrorist Organisation list by changing the description of the Lashkar toad the MML as a Lashkar ally.
Saeed then decided to field 265 candidates for the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures. All these candidates are contesting on the tickets of the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek.
It is to be seen how many seats Saeed's men could bag in the elections. However the writing on the wall is that if Imran Khan's party fails to touch the majority mark, the army would want Saeed's candidates to back him and form the government in Pakistan.
With an Imran Khan backed by Hafiz Saeed calling the shots in Pakistan, India has plenty to worry especially when it comes to the border policy and Kashmir. Former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, C D Sahay tells OneIndia that the news coming from Pakistan as of now is not good. It is clear that the army is in complete control. While the people may not back Imran Khan and go with the PML-N instead, there is no guarantee that the army will not rig the results.