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Is India alarmed at Imran Khan sweeping the Pakistan elections?

Hours after the initial results of Pakistan’s general elections, Abdus Sattar Ghazali believes that India has started a vicious campaign against the emerging Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.

As initial results on Wednesday indicated that Tehrik-e-Istaqlal party is sweeping the polls in Pakistan, India claims that he is backed by the military of nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Union Minister RK Singh was quoted by Indian Outlook as saying that Wednesday’s elections in Pakistan are rigged by the Army. He claimed that the military has audited the election.

Not surprisingly, a senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Subramanian Swamy, suggested on Thursday that India should break Pakistan into four pieces.

Speaking to ANI, Swamy said, “Let us (India) prepare for the possibility that Pakistan may carry out war by miscalculation. We should be ready to finish Pakistan and break it into four and look for that opportunity.”

He claimed that Imran Khan is an army puppet and added:

“It’s better to be known as a puppet than pretend not to be a puppet like Nawaz Sharif.

“They are all puppets. All civilian politicians in Pakistan are puppets of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), military and the Taliban.”

While Indian leaders were spewing venom against Imran Khan, leading Indian newspapers launched a malicious campaign against the cricketer-turned-politician.

The First Post of India:  “Imran Khan is the worst pick for both Pakistan and India among a field of bad choices” was the headline of the First Post of India report about the elections.

The First Post of India claimed that the military is making Imran’s path to premiership easier, given how it considers him a less troublesome figure compared to the dynastic politicians of the Sharif-Bhutto clan.

The paper added:

“The most damning argument against Imran’s tenure at the helm is the power that the country’s military wield over him. The Pindi khakis have facilitated his rise to the top through a strategy of machinations, manipulations and coercive strategies, and will be eager to extract their pound of flesh.

“Just one example should be enough of the way the “establishment” has tried to control the narrative in Imran’s favor.

“There are alarm bells for India amid indications that if Imran’s party falls short of the halfway mark in the National Assembly, candidates of the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek may join hands with Imran to keep out Sharif’s party from power.”

Hindustan Times claimed that Pakistan’s army has long worried that a civilian government could make overtures to India and Afghanistan, ultimately reducing the need for a powerful military — and the largesse that comes with it.

Pakistan’s powerful military — which has ruled for much of the nation’s history — has faced accusations during the campaign of intimidating critics to elect a pliant government and Imran Khan is seen as the military’s top choice for prime minister.

No matter who triumphs, Pakistan’s next leader will need to grapple with the generals over control of foreign policy and national security — two areas that determine relations with the US and China, the Hindustan Times added.

Financial Express of India claimed that effort by previous Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to normalize ties with India was not taken kindly by the military lords of the Islamic nation.

Nawaz, who is a three-time PM of the country, was forced to step down for allegedly violating an obscure clause in the constitution, then convicted on flimsy corruption charges and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The Financial Express went to say:

“Several reports from the country claim that cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is likely to win the polls and become the next prime minister with the blessings of the ISI and Army. Rumor mills are abuzz in Pakistan that the military is trying its best to ensure a majority for Khan, or near majority, in the 342-member National Assembly.

“It will be setback to the cause of democracy in Pakistan, and also not in the interest of India, if the military manages to install a puppet government.

“More so, because the Pakistani military has never shown any interest in peace with India.”

India Today indicated that it will be difficult for India if Imran Khan wins Pakistan elections.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has emerged as the key challenger to power in Pakistan. He is said to be in good books of Pakistan Army, the paper said adding:

“The chatter mill of Pakistan politics have it that Pakistan Army is making sure that a “pliant” Imran Khan wins majority or near majority in 342-member National Assembly.

“Pakistan Army is not ready to give any decision making leverage to a civilian government in matters of foreign policy and strategic affairs. PML-N and PPP have in the past tried to break free by advocating peace with India. Imran Khan has emerged as a candidate with right blend of fundamentalist politics and military compliance.”

Pranyan Sharma of the Outlook India wrote Thursday (July 26):

“The political drama seems to be obeying a specific, if tentative plotline that is generating a knowing smile in the Indian foreign policy establishment.

“Imran, they believe, has been propped up by the Pakistani army to cut to size its former protege, Nawaz. New Delhi, therefore, expects Imran to do the bidding faithfully for the generals in the domain of security and foreign policy—especially in its dealings with India.”

Tellingly, in his victory speech on Thursday (July 26) Imran Khan said his government would like leaders of India and Pakistan to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks.

He asserted that the blame game between the two neighbours, detrimental to the subcontinent, should stop.

“If they [India] take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least (we) need a start.”

(Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America)

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