The Naya Pakistan of Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) will not be anywhere close to the vision of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Instead, it will be what Pakistan’s home grown radical Islamist groups espouse, whether Deobandi (the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan), Barelvi (Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan), or Ahl e Hadith / Wahhabi (Jamaat ud Dawan/ Lashkar e Taiba).
Since 1947, many in Pakistan have called for a New Medina, for a Sharia inspired state, but none of the religious parties have managed to win elections. Today, however, it appears that radical Islamist organizations, like TLP or TTP, both with mass followings, are keen to have a Sharia state in Pakistan.
As author and columnist, Pervez Hoodhoy writes, the ceasefires with both TLP and TTP are not surrender by the state, instead they appear politically motivated. “Many call it surrender. But could this be in sly anticipation of TLP joining mainstream politics and becoming PTI’s partner in the next elections? PM Khan’s close ideological affinity with TLP as a Barelvi organisation makes this an open possibility. In April he stressed that “TLP and the government have the same objective but our methods are different”. To underscore his fondness for TLP, weeks ago Khan launched the blasphemy-busting Rehmatulil Alameen Authority (RAA). That TLP protests began from the Rehmatulil Alameen mosque in Lahore is coincidental? Well maybe, maybe not.”
While Imran Khan might blame the military for forcing him to accept ceasefires, as Hoodbhoy points out, “he might, however, have a credibility problem because he has never condemned any Taliban atrocity. In September 2013 — at the height of TTP’s suicide attacks against Pakistan’s people, police, and army — Khan as PTI leader insisted the Nawaz government declare a ceasefire and allow TTP to open offices in Pakistan. A grateful TTP responded by authorising Imran Khan, along with Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Samiul Haq, to negotiate on its behalf. Then, just weeks later, TTP militants played football with the severed heads of 23 captured Frontier Corps soldiers in a macabre, video-recorded football match. The APS massacre followed in December 2014. When newly-wed Imran Khan and his wife Reham Khan visited the school one month later, parents of the murdered children greeted them with ‘go Imran go’ slogans.”
As Hoodbhoy rightly points out, Imran Khan and his supporters have gone from claiming they will ban all terror groups and accusing the TLP and TTP of being ‘Indian proxies’ and now labelling all critics of his policies simply as “bloody liberals.”