Islamabad, July 23: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, who is looking favourites to win the July 25 elections in Pakistan, on Sunday (July 22) accused jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of "protecting India's interests" and trying to damage the credibility of the ensuing general polls.
The 65-year-old former cricketer who won Pakistan its only world cup title in cricket in 1992, said in a poll rally that a "big game" was being played to hurt the credibility of the general elections and that Sharif and others were part of the "conspiracy".
Besides attacking Sharif over his allegations that the elections are going to be rigged, Khan also took a dig at the Indian media for claiming the same. Khan called it a "big conspiracy against the state of Pakistan".
Khan also said that Sharif, who was handed a long imprisonment along with his daughter and son-in-law in Avenfield corruption case, had always tried to defame Pakistan's armed forces and institutions. He raked up the issue of Sharif claiming the Pakistani establishment was behind the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008 a few months ago.
Khan also claimed that the international establishment, including India, wanted a weak government in Islamabad.
Imran Khan's assumptions stand on shaky grounds. As a first-time prime ministerial aspirant, Khan finds it convenient to be more rhetorical and identify enemies at home and abroad and also speak in a voice that appeases the power centres that have been more powerful than the country's civilian administration which has been historically weak.
But only rhetoric doesn't make a politician a true leader and Khan could know it soon if he wins the July 25 elections to become Pakistan's next premier.
If Sharif wanted to improve ties with India, there was no error in that
Sharif's remarks targeting Pakistan's own establishment on the 26/11 attacks had nothing to do with being pro-Indian.
Sharif, as a seasoned politician and a leader who has known the complexities of the country's internal political dynamics and gathered the courage to fight the all-engulfing military, made the claims to regain the civilians' lost ground in the power play with the army in the last 70 years.
Sharif also knew it very well that having good terms with India would only help Pakistan's long-term interests, provided the state of Pakistan learnt to read the actual story and not indulge in blind nationalistic confrontation.
India will never want a vulnerable Pakistan
From India's perspective, a weak Pakistan is undesirable as that will only multiply New Delhi's headaches in Kashmir and western front. Nobody really wants a neighbour, especially when it is a nuclear power, turn weak and vulnerable as that only endangers the borders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, like the other BJP prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, tried to engage with the Sharif government more than once to normalise the relations but the existence of too many power centres in Pakistan hindered the progress to New Delhi's dismay.
For Khan, national leadership is still an alien subject
It is still not clear how much Khan himself fits in a political system where compromise matters. Being in the opposition is one thing for the charismatic, personalised politics of Imran Khan but to act within the confinements of the saddle of power is an entirely different ball game. It is still not clear whether Khan is a man backed by the military to scuttle the PML-N's chances but whatever it is, the former cricketer doesn't seem to be a suitable candidate to perish under the evils that often mar Pakistan's politics.
The Pathan has chosen the known formula of bashing India and backing Pakistan's state to win more hearts and votes of the July 25 elections but the foundation of such traditional politics might not be as strong today as it was decades back. Khan will need to address more pressing issues if he eventually lands in the PM's post because Pakistan is literally sitting on a time bomb at the moment.