The man who led the 1992 World Cup winning Pakistan cricket team, Imran Khan, is the choice of the Pakistan military establishment to take over as the next prime minister of the country.
As Pakistan develops a roadmap for reconciliation with the Taliban, the military establishment is of the opinion that an “internationally credible person with an out-of-the-box thinking”, like Khan, is needed to bring about peace with the Taliban aimed at “closing down the war theater inside Pakistan, Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistan Bureau Chief of Asia Times Online, has claimed.
Imran Khan, is the choice of the Pakistan military establishment to take over as the next prime minister of the country.
Last week, the current Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani led a delegation, which included the Army and the ISI chiefs, to Kabul and a high-level joint peace and reconciliation commission was formed to push the peace process in war-torn Afghanistan. The peace process is also aimed at bringing the Taliban into the mainstream political process of Afghanistan.
Shahzad, in his article, claims that several months before this trip, the Pakistan military establishment began preparations for reconciliation and it was agreed that the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief would lead the peace process.
“A prominent Urdu media commentator of right-wing leanings, who is close to both Khan and army chief Kiyani, arranged a series of meetings between the two which eventually led to a consensus around Khan becoming the next leader of the country,” Shahzad writes.
”¦the Pakistan military establishment began preparations for reconciliation and it was agreed that the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief would lead the peace process.
The article further adds: “While no formula was finalized, according to sources, general elections scheduled for February 2013 could be brought forward and a political alliance engineered that would result in a simple majority under which Khan would be installed as prime minister. Another scenario would be for Khan to take the lead in an interim government.”
According to Shahzad there is a sense among serving and retired military officers, academicians, businessmen, and politicians that Khan is the best person who can deliver a result with regard to the peace process.
“They believe the best hope lies in a person who can be trusted in all quarters – by the Taliban, political Islamists, liberal secularists, Western capitals, India and other regional players,” Shahzad writes.
Khan’s leadership role has also been welcomed by various political parties in Pakistan, including the Muttehada Quami Movement.
Shahzad also reveals that the selection of Imran Khan is not a sudden or a recent development. According to him, former ISI chief Hamid Gul, post his retirement, began work on a plan for the future leadership of Pakistan. Khan was one of the three prominent Pakistanis chosen by Gul as future leaders of the country. The other two refused to join politics but Khan agreed.
”¦Khan is the best person who can deliver a result with regard to the peace process.
Khan has offered to broker a deal between the Pakistani government and Taliban in the past. He has also criticized the military campaign against the militants in Swat. He has been a vocal critic of US policies in Afghanistan and has repeatedly accused the Pakistani government of working under pressure from the US.
The former cricketer has called for a two-day (April 23-24) sit-in protest on the highway outside Peshawar which leads to Afghanistan. The idea is to block NATO’s supply convoys ferrying goods for its troops in Afghanistan.
Shahzad claims that the proposed protests are being seen “as the curtain-raiser for Khan’s entry into the AfPak arena.”