The third largest Muslim country has elected Imran Khan, who won the cricket championship, has a golden opportunity to rebuild and modernize Pakistan. To make this happen, first, he must take all steps necessary to uphold democracy. Although he has been elected with the support of Pakistan’s military, he should not compromise on the democratic principles and processes. He should be courageous to challenge the military if it oversteps its jurisdiction into civilian and parliamentary democracy.
Pakistan lost East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, because the military encouraged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to dishonor the election results in East Pakistan and used force to kill democracy. At that time, Pakistan’s military and Bhutto thought that because of the mutual security pact with the U.S., the U.S. would defend Pakistan against India. They also thought that its ally China would support Pakistan. Pakistan was disappointed when India defeated and took 90,000 Pakistani prisoners. I am sure the new prime minister Imran Khan will take this into account if and when the military tries to apply pressure on him.
The present economy of Pakistan is very weak, with hardly any foreign exchange reserve. Out of 200 million population, only one million pay taxes. Therefore, the first priority is to do everything possible to rebuild Pakistan’s economy. The new prime minister needs cooperation and help not only from his people but also from Afghanistan, India, China, and the U.S.
President Trump has demanded that Pakistan do the following:
1) Pakistan must withdraw all its support to Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan and cooperate with the government of Afghanistan.
2) Pakistan must dismantle terror cells and organizations of all brands including Lakshar-e-Taiba and JUD, that were responsible for the attack of Mumbai. Their leaders should be arrested and meted out justice.
3) Pakistan must exterminate all Taliban terrorists from Pakistan who have been responsible for systematic terrorism in Pakistan.
Trump has been tough with Pakistan by withdrawing military aid.
Pakistan’s military has justified its domination over civilian democracy by fearmongering against India. It has failed to realize that it fought three conventional wars against India and in spite of generous military aid from the U.S., Pakistan suffered heavy defeat. Having failed to win conventional wars, the military has resorted to using the Taliban, LeT, JuD, and other terrorist organizations as proxy. This must stop forthwith.
Shimla Accord: Pakistan and India agreed to resolve all differences including Kashmir throught bilateral diplomacy and talks. Pakistan agreed not to involve third parties or internationalize Kashmir. Pakistan should also take steps to regain the part of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir from China that was ceded to China by Pakistan to gain its support against India.
India had every right to retaliate militarily against Pakistan when its terrorists, with official blessing, attacked Mumbai and killed over 160 people and causing heavy damages. India has exercised patience for the sake of peace.
Now, with the election of a new prime ninister, India should offer its full cooperation towards normalization. It is in India’s interest that Pakistan’s economy is modernized. Opportunities for trade and commerce is abundant and I am sure both Pakistan and India will exploit this. People of India and Pakistan have grown accustomed to the same culture in spite of physical partition of the British India.
If Pakistan fulfills the conditions laid out by President Trump, India will go out of its way to foster healthier and better relations with Pakistan.
If Imran Khan upholds democracy and attaches priority to the economic wellbeing of Pakistan, nothing will stop him from taking initiatives for meaningful talks with India and the U.S. The history of Pakistan has taught a good lesson: dominance by military and interference in civilian democracy cannot make progress.
As a champion of cricket, I am sure Imran Khan will show his statesmanship and leadership in the interest of peace and betterment for the people of Pakistan.
Asian American Republican Committee
Scarsdale, New York