World Economic Forum - Imran Khan: The face of Pakistan at Davos

Khan addresses a bewildered Western audience, who mostly showed up to get a good look at their favourite cricket star.


Munizae Jahangir January 30, 2011

DAVOS: Every country that matters is here, but where is Pakistan? Pakistanis are found on panels such as “Security Agenda in 2011” and “The Reality of Terrorism” and even there, our representation is weak.

The most prominent Pakistani at Davos is Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan who was the guest speaker at a lunch hosted by defence analyst Ikram Sehgal, who runs a security company in Pakistan.

“The moment Nato leaves Afghanistan, things will settle down. There will be peace and then we can deal with the terrorists,” Khan tells a bewildered Western audience, who mostly showed up to get a good look at their favourite cricket star.

Speaking about Pashtuns, he said it was important to make a distinction between al Qaeda and the Taliban who are Pashtuns and the Pashtuns should not be attacked. “You must understand the Pashtun mentality. If you kill them (with drone attacks) they will take revenge, so there will be repercussions,” he said. “There are human beings and then there are Pathans,” he joked.

“The Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan are not a threat to the West, al Qaeda is,” he said to a sceptical audience.

Khan explained that Salmaan Taseer’s murder had exposed the extreme polarisation in society. “If the war on terror continues and the US keeps pressuring Pakistan to flush out Taliban militants, this polarisation of society will be detrimental,” he said.

Apart from his well-known stance on the war on terror, Khan advocated that the present government had lost its moral authority and the time was ripe for  change. He warned that if the present “corrupt set up” is tolerated, there may be a revolution made up of young Pakistanis under the age of 30.

“After the National Reconciliation Ordinance was promulgated, the biggest crooks formed the government,” he said, while referring to the country’s top political leadership. He predicted that in the next general election, which he believes will be free and fair, all “the old political faces will be wiped out”.

But Khan also insisted that any form of democracy is better than dictatorship. “I supported Musharraf in the beginning and I admit that it was the biggest mistake I have ever made,” he said. Later in the day, Khan shared panel space with the Indian Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who forcefully stated that terrorists must be dealt with sternly and there should be swift punishment for those found guilty.

Chidambaram maintained the traditional Indian foreign office line that there are “home-grown modules in India that get support from across the border.”

On a panel titled “The reality of terrorism”, Chidambaram made it quite clear that India was not willing to show flexibility on the issue of terrorism, putting a dampener on the upcoming India-Pakistan secretary level talks at Thimpu.

Another panellist, Tahirul Qadri called upon the West and India to recognise the “root causes” of terror and to immediately resolve outstanding disputes such as Kashmir. However, Chidambaram shot back, “none of the issues (Kashmir or the territorial dispute between Israel and Palestine) justify use of terror. This is not the way civilised societies settle their disputes.”

But Khan insisted that the root cause of terror must be dealt with. “The cancer must be treated and not its symptoms,” he said.

While the security debate dragged on at Davos, it was quite clear that no one – those asking questions or those answering them – had found a fresh approach to deal with problems in Pakistan. The same questions were asked and the familiar rhetoric was repeated.

While back in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous areas, the tribal lashkars and paramilitary forces battle Taliban militants, it seemed like our leadership was making no effort to engage powers of the world on platforms such as the World Economic Forum where perhaps sympathetic ears would have helped. A Pakistani delegation well-prepared to plead their case and defend their position regarding the war against militancy should have been sent. Instead, what the World Economic Forum saw was a cricketer-turned-politician advocating a view that not necessarily represents the official line taken by the government of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th,  2011.

COMMENTS (29)

Imran Khan | 10 years ago | Reply @Saira: You people can't think more than marriage.
Imran Khan | 10 years ago | Reply @Freeha Shaukat: To whom it may concern. Imran Khan says “the moment Nato leaves Afghanistan, things will be settle down. There will be peace and then we can deal with the terrorists”. Comments: It’s merely hope of Imran Khan with ignoring the following facts: 1. After the withdraw of Soviet Union there was no peace in Afghanistan but the war expended all over Afghanistan between each of the warlords controlling various clans, tribes, provinces and even on sectarian basis. On the other hand foreign forces like Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arab support their allies to get a government in their favor. The third parties like Bharat(India), Israel and western countries also involved in it so that northern border of Pakistan become unsaved and to get hold on resources of Afghanistan as they have planned it earlier and still doing so. 2. The mentality of Afghans play a vital role in the game as for example when Taliban’s Leader Siaaf was died, the war and conflict had begun between his colleagues to get control over the money and arms. It proves that they are not being attached with Islam or they are not fighting against the enemies of Muslims. And the game is still on full span. Mr. Khan please admits the ground realities and let us has your clear words and thinking. Remedies: The problems of Afghans can be removed by taking following steps: 1. Immediate withdraw of all foreign forces including intelligence agencies. 2. Taking over the military charge by allies forces consist of neighboring countries like Turkey, Iran, China and Pakistan and the countries whose militants are in Talibans like Saudi Arab, Egypt, Syria and other countries. This will eliminate the economic and casualty burden on United States and Europe. 3. Announce a confirm development program for Afghanistan, Wazirstan, the tribal areas of Khyberpahtoonkhwa like construction of railway line from Karachi and Gawadar to Kabul and all over Afghanistan. Exploration of oil and gas fields, mining, industrial and agriculture development programs. These should have been begin as soon as possible and must be completed in due course of time. There will be great affections of the above strategy in change of mentality and to bring peace in the region. The above approach can also be applied to Iraq and other countries. I have also prepare an economic policy and named it as “Peoples Economic Policy” which will without involving forces eliminate terrorism, social evils corruption and automatically provide peace, security, health, education and brain washing for all the people specially for woman and children. It will be described if desired. Wednesday, February 02, 2011 Imran Khan Recommend
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