Unlike the Taliban-friendly image that a section of the media portrays of him, Imran Khan is more of a peacenik, a new biography of the Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician says.
The book “Imran versus Imran: The Untold Story,” published by Falcon & Falcon Books Limited, says while Mr. Khan is not vulnerable to war-like emotions, he wants love to conquer the frontiers of war.
Mr. Khan learnt the power of “Make Love, Not War” counterculture slogan during his Oxford days, says the book authored by Indian journalist Manoj Kumar, who writes under the pen name of Frank Huzur.
However, what in all probability is likely to raise the ghosts of the past in the context of the Indo-Pakistan relations is his observation on former Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee’s historic bus trip to Lahore in 1999. “The Lahore Declaration was doomed to die right from the start,” Mr. Khan is quoted saying in the book.
Why? “Only pomp and splendor don’t bring cheers on the ground. Nawaz Sharif acted once more unilaterally. His army Chief of Staff, Musharraf and other service chiefs refused to welcome his decision to go ahead with ‘Bus Diplomacy.’ The Indian Prime Minister had the confidence of the entire nation, whereas Nawaz didn’t have approval from his own army. Musharraf didn’t join him at the Wagah Border,” Mr. Huzur quotes Mr. Khan as saying in the book, which is basically a “political biography” of the erstwhile dashing cricketer.
It was Mr. Sharif’s own decision to roll out the red carpet for the Indian PM, says the book, while adding that [the then Pakistani Prime Minister] wanted General Musharraf, Air Chief Marshal Parvez Mehdi and Admiral Fasih Bokhari to be present, clad in full military regalia, to salute Atal Behari Vajpayee and shake hands with him. “His military chiefs had serious reservations. They were not happy about their Prime Minister compelling them to salute ‘the head of government of an enemy country’ and particularly one belonging to the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”
Meanwhile, in an email interview with Times of Oman, Mr. Huzur shed some more light on Imran’s views on India, where he continues to be hugely popular.
“He (Mr. Khan) often recommends his party workers to learn from the civilian institutions of India. I often heard him talking about the social empowerment of marginalized people in India.”
Mr. Huzur added that while Kashmir may be hanging fire in his eyes, Mr. Khan wants dialogue and de-militarization to resolve the disputed issue.
“I believe Imran Khan is not one of the rabble-rousing politicians of Pakistan who often talk ill of India. Even while he has been a close ally of religious parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-Ulema-Islam of Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, his ‘pro-India stand’ has been a moderating influence on these anti-India voices,” said Mr. Huzur.
(This article first appeared in Times of Oman on July 9, 2011.)