Will Imran Khan emerge? The main thing is not to drown again!

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s struggle to return to power is making headlines in the Muslim world, especially among those with close ties to the subcontinent. It should be recalled that Imran Khan was removed from office this spring by a vote of no confidence in parliament (https://golosislama.com/news.php?id=40591). When we wrote about the connection between this removal and his highly unsuccessful visit to Russia on the day it launched its war against Ukraine, some readers dismissed it as manipulation. «What does a Pakistani voter have to do with events in Ukraine?» they wrote.

But we never claimed that Imran Khan was overthrown by Pakistani voters. And the recent elections in the Punjab provincial assembly speak for themselves. In those elections, Imran Khan’s Justice Movement Party won 15 seats, while his main opponent, the Shahbaz Sharif Muslim League, won 4 seats. Since Punjab is one of the most important provinces in Pakistan, Imran Khan now has more reason to demand what he has been seeking since he was removed as prime minister — early national elections. He has a good chance of winning convincingly and then forming a stable parliamentary majority and government.

Contrary to the fairy tales of democracy, however, voter support is not everything, even in countries that are considered its perfect examples. And this is especially true in Pakistan, where the military plays the role of the «deep state» and the main political players are not so much parties as family and tribal clans.

So our idea, expressed after the no-confidence vote against Imran Khan, was that there is a lot at stake in the world right now, including for those Pakistani clans that are closely tied to the participants in this global «Great Game». In this game, pro-American clans can be squeezed together with pro-Chinese or pro-British ones, or vice versa. But to get involved with Putin’s Russia, whose role in global politics is to be China’s ally, is too toxic a role.

Of course, when Imran Khan visited Moscow on February 23 and met with Putin on February 24 of this year, he did not know that on that day his Kremlin partners would start a war against Ukraine. Treating him in such a way, presenting him with this important fact, was a real rudeness from the Kremlin’s side, but nothing else should be expected from them.

However, it was a big mistake for Imran Khan to act as if nothing had happened. Perhaps his political inexperience played a role — after all, he came to big politics from sports and was more concerned with fighting corruption than geopolitics. But political instinct should have told him not to meet with the leader of a country that had attacked a country supported by almost the entire world as if nothing had happened.

Of course, no one demanded that he come out in front of the cameras with the Ukrainian flag, but he could have interrupted his official visit until the conflict was resolved — that would have been the correct diplomatic formulation. And it would have been correctly perceived by everyone capable of proper perception. And at the very least, if he did not understand the situation while in Moscow, he should have somehow mitigated the impression of this involuntary solidarity with Putin’s aggression upon his return home. For example, by making a statement that he was not aware of the start of the war at the time of his visit and does not support the solution of political problems by military means, etc.

Again, this is not about Ukraine, which Pakistani politicians may have nothing to do with. This is about not getting on board with a sinking geopolitical bankrupt that has been written off by the whole world. And if Imran Khan manages to float after recklessly boarding and falling off this boat, it is important not to repeat the mistake.

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