If there is any politician in Pakistan, who deserves the sympathy of the world today, the worthy is Imran Khan, the 22nd Prime Minister of the country.
He is no ordinary Pakistani. He belongs to a relatively affluent, upper middle-class family. He did his higher studies from Oxford. One of his ancestors, Haibat Khan Niazi, “was a leading general” of the 16th century warrior king, Sher Shah Suri, who gave nightmares to the Great Moghuls.
Maternally, Khan is a descendant of the Sufi warrior-poet, Pir Roshan, whose lasting contribution is the Pashto alphabet. Pashto is the language spoken by Pashtuns, who live in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Simply put, Imran Khan’s pedigree makes him the envy of fellow politicians in the land of the pure, as Pakistan is known ever since it was carved out of British India in 1947 as the home for Muslims.
But for reasons that remain still a riddle wrapped in enigma, the mighty Imran Khan has become an embarrassment to the Pakistani diaspora with his witless remarks.
And at home, his pearls of wisdom have become fodder for the social media vigilantes, who say he is no different from the run of the mill politicians; their verdict is that he too suffers from the foot-in-the-mouth disease.
Well, like most politicians of the Indian sub-continent, Imran Khan can blame the media for his latest troubles. Because it is Axios journalist Jonathan Swan’s interview for HBO that found Imran Khan expose his foot-in-the-mouth affliction with his remarks on rape, and on his belief that his country as also India need no nuclear weapons if differences over Kashmir are resolved.
Asked about the ongoing “rape epidemic” in Pakistan, he, in a matter-of-fact tone, said, “If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It’s common sense.”
Frankly, this was not the first time that Khan was speaking his mind on rape. He did so as recently as mid-April and faced flak. Apparently, he remains unmoved by the outrage he has invited by blaming women for the increasing incidence of rape cases in the country. And the sobriquet — ‘rape apologist’.
Khan’s Pakistan is the only nuclearised Muslim country. The know-how was acquired surreptitiously during the Bhutto era, as the charismatic Socialist was determined not only to match neighbour India, but also to gift the “Islamic Bomb” to the world.
Clearly, the Imran-speak shows startling ignorance about his grasp over key issues. While India has not yet reacted, the Opposition in his country, notably the Peoples’ Party of Pakistan and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), have pounced on him, accusing him of working at the behest of the West to undo Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
It was the PPP regimes that had laid the N-foundations; the N-test was conducted by PML-N.
Incredibly, the Pakistan Prime Minister is unaware that India had started its nuclear programme after China, Pakistan’s ‘iron brother’, introduced the deadly weapon in the region more than half a century ago.
India doesn’t need nukes to defend itself against Pakistan, but it will be foolish of India to imagine that the nukes can be done away with as long as China has the policy of forcible intrusion into the Himalayas.
In other words, Pakistan’s N-bomb is India centric whereas India’s N-concerns have no Pakistan fixation.
In interview after interview, Khan has been declaring that he would not talk to India unless “its mischief” in Kashmir is rolled back. The reference is to New Delhi’s 2019 decision to end the special status the Indian constitution had temporarily bestowed on Jammu and Kashmir years ago.
But he has no answer as to why India should oblige him. He has been fretting and fuming against India and its Prime Minister in the most undiplomatic language.
Khan harps on ill-treatment of minorities in India, but does nothing to stop atrocities, including murder, rape and conversion by force on minority Shias, Hazaras, Hindus and Christians in his own country.
That apart, he is quick to denounce France, Canada and a host of Western nations for alleged instances of ‘Islamophobia’, but doesn’t utter a word on China’s brutalities against Muslims in Xinjiang and the Buddhists in Tibet.
Now cut to Khan’s remarks on rape. His comments on women’s attire and rape are no different from the belief of men of a particular bent of mind at home that unless a woman who ventures out of home is covered head to toe, she should be ready to face sexual barbs, if not assault.
More than a dozen women’s rights groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, have released a statement demanding his apology, according to the Guardian.
“This is dangerously simplistic and only reinforces the common public perception that women are ‘knowing’ victims and men ‘helpless’ aggressors,” they said.
The Oxford-educated Khan’s doublespeak does sound astonishing. He made his first wife, a British Jew, adopt many Pakistani ways, including the habit of appearing in public ‘fully attired and head covered’.
His second marriage to a beautiful British journalist of Pakistani origin ended in bitterness. The divorced bride spoke of Imran Khan’s fondness for company outside the matrimony. His present wife, a Pakistani, appears in public covered under layers of linen.
So much so, Khan commenting on rape is a case of devil quoting the scripture. By no means rape can be described as a modern-day curse. It marks him out as a misogynist with a narrow mindset.