Imran Khan Is Dividing Pakistan's Stand Against India, Say Politicians

The cricketer-turned-politician and his party chose to boycott a joint session in the parliament.

05/10/2016 2:27 PM IST | Updated 05/10/2016 8:46 PM IST
Faisal Mahmood / Reuters
Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party Imran Khan in Islamabad on August 21, 2014. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo

Politicians in India are not alone in their disagreement over the recently conducted surgical strikes along the Line of Control (LoC). Across the border, too, differences have surfaced among Pakistan's political establishment, triggered by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

In a move that has been widely criticised, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party decided to opt out of a joint session of the parliament that is scheduled today. According to reports, Khan said the decision is a reaction to charges of corruption against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, since he was implicated by the revelations made in the Panama papers.

"We have a clear line on the prime minister. We thought if we attend tomorrow, we would be endorsing him. But he has lost his moral authority because of the Panama leaks," he told the press yesterday.

PTI attended an All Parties' Conference earlier this week to express solidarity on the issue of Kashmir and to indicate it was in agreement with the government when it came to dealing with Indian aggression. But Khan still attacked Sharif for his inability to provide leadership to the country in the wake of the Uri attacks.

"When there was a ruckus after the Uri attack, where was Nawaz Sharif?" he asked. "He was shopping in Gucci in London, whereas he should have provided leadership in Pakistan. There was no response from here when there was Indian aggression," he added.

Speaking on behalf of his party, Khan said, "We believe Nawaz Sharif has lost legitimacy as PM. He promised to present himself before parliament for accountability six months ago, but still has not done so."

The premier, he added, had two options.

"He can either resign and another PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)] leader can take over as PM. This is what happened in Iceland. There was no damage to democracy," he said, according to the Dawn. The other option, Khan claimed, was for Sharif to present himself "for accountability on the Terms of Reference that the opposition has put forth". He accused Sharif of holding the nation "hostage" on this issue.

Khan's stance has incited the ire of the political class as well as commentators. Some pointed out the oddity of his decision to attend the All Parties' Conference, which was hosted by Sharif, and to boycott one that is meant to signal national unity by parties from across the political spectrum.

Khan, however, said that "the government's resolution on Kashmir was weak" and that, by attending the meeting, PTI has "strengthened it".

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