Writing a column anywhere is serious business. The written word has a remarkable ability to influence minds. But when an opinion piece appears in one of the leading papers of the world, its credibility is much greater. Given this, it is necessary for the paper to exercise strict editorial control to ensure that the opinion of a particular author does not degenerate into name calling or abuses.
This is precisely what Sadanand Dhume, an Indian working for the American Enterprise Institute, has indulged in. He begins he piece “The Man with No plan for Pakistan” by running down the country as a problem child. Not content with this pejorative Indian perspective, he goes on to use slanderous language about a leading political figure of Pakistan.
Referring to the latest opinion poll by PEW, he goes on to add, that a “frustrated population is growing even more extremist and many are starting to see a charlatan as a political saviour”. What venom, and why? My thesaurus gives the following alternate words for charlatan, “imposter, fake, fraud, swindler, con artist, sham”. Is Dhume calling Imran Khan a virtual criminal? He is because he uses the C word. What evidence does he have to say this and how come the paper has given him the space to use this abusive term?
With a start like this, it is difficult to take anything else that Dhume says seriously. For example, he says that the population is growing more extremist by choosing Imran Khan. Growing more extremist? What is extreme about Mr. Khan and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf? After trawling through much of the article which is a description of the PEW survey, we find the glimmer of an answer near the end. He believes Imran is an extremist because he blames America and specifically the war on terror for the rise of radical Islam in Pakistan.
Perhaps Dhume is pandering to the country in which he has chosen to live because the evidence to support Imran Khan’s above quoted belief is overwhelming. Before 9/11 and Pakistan’s partnership in US’s war in Afghanistan, there had not been a single mass terrorist attack in the country or a suicide bombing. Since this partnership Pakistan has suffered at least 35000 dead because of terror attacks. Much of these have emanated from the tribal areas of Pakistan which have been subjected to military operations and drone attacks with Pakistani government’s consent. In the face of this evidence if Imran Khan says that radical Islam got a boost because of the American war on terror and Pakistan’s partnership in it, is he wrong?
Dhume goes on to make another false claim. He says that Imran proposes kid glove treatment for terrorists. Where has picked this from? Mr. Khan has been unequivocal that those indulging in terror acts must face the full might of the law. In fact, he was the only Pakistani politician to public condemn the murder of Governor Salman Taseer by a religious fanatic. As a result of these remarks he had bear the ire of the Mullahs and some processions were taken out against him.
Yes, representatives of PTI have visited public meetings organized by Defence of Pakistan Council but the party has clearly stated that this participation is not an endorsement of what DPC parties stand for. Imran Khan believes that we need to engage with all groups, radical or otherwise, willing to come into the political domain and that marginalising them or pushing them to the wall is counterproductive. Is this a sign of extremism or belief in corrective mechanisms of democracy?
Dhume concludes in the end that Imran Khan is not the man for Pakistan. Millions of Pakistanis don’t agree with him and nor should they. They have a stake in the future of this country. He has none.
PTI Central Information Secretary
Source: This was published in the comment section of the article