Establishment No Longer Willing To Trust Imran Khan, Journalist Claims

Establishment No Longer Willing To Trust Imran Khan, Journalist Claims
The latest attempts to bridge the divide between former premier Imran Khan and the military establishment have been brought to a close, according to exclusive revelations by seasoned journalist Kamran Yousaf. He says that until a few days ago, the miltablishment was considering contacts with the PTI chairman, but decided against it due to Khan's "chequered track record".

In his latest vlog, Kamran Yousaf begins by drawing an analogy from the US intelligence contacts with the Taliban, during the war in Afghanistan. He says that even during military hostilities, the American CIA maintained contacts with the Taliban's Haqqani network, which it considered terrorists. Yousaf says that what appears to us in the public domain is rarely ever reflective of the ground realities that are being carefully sculpted 'behind the scenes'. "On one side you are negotiating, on the other side there is use of force. These multiple tracks are exercised simultaneously, and this is part of a strategy," Yousaf says.

Yousaf says that we can publicly see a standoff between Imran Khan and the establishment, that there is "heavy fighting going on between them, this is what we see up front". But he extends his analogy to state that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency continues to maintain contacts with Imran Khan through 'back channels'. Yousaf says that the ISI also maintained contacts with Nawaz Sharif and the PMLN, even when they were being hounded by proxy since 2016-17. Yousaf had earlier stated that Imran Khan wanted to reset his contacts with the new military establishment, but Pakistan army chief Gen. Asim Munir had reportedly rebuffed such efforts.

According to Kamran Yousaf, despite the intense face-off between the former premier and the miltablishment, attempts were again made to 'restore' direct contact between them. Yousaf says that an unnamed president of a commercial bank was the interlocutor or "mediator" for this latest effort, undertaken during the past few weeks, to 'clear the air' between Imran Khan and the establishment. Previous attempts had been made by President Arif Alvi, when Gen. (retired) Qamar Bajwa was serving as army chief, but came to no avail. Yousaf exclusively reveals that the interlocutor presented their 'good offices' to the miltablishment in order to initiate this patch-up.

Kamran Yousaf says that a "serving officer" representing the establishment gave certain conditions to the interlocutor, to present to former premier Imran Khan for any contact in good faith. First, the PTI chairman would have to 'tone down' his anti-establishment rhetoric. Second, if Khan wants early elections or wants to decide the modalities of general elections, he will have to talk to incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and utilise the existing forums within the system (i.e. parliament). Moreover, Khan was also asked to provide an 'assurance', if not a guarantee, that if he were to come back to power, he would not pursue or prosecute his opponents.

The interlocutor took these conditions to Imran Khan, and Kamran Yousaf purports that the former premier and PTI supremo readily accepted these demands from the miltablishment. Yousaf says that it was in the backdrop of these contacts that Imran Khan said he was willing to talk to anyone for the sake of Pakistan. Yousaf is also at pains to remind the audience that Khan accepted these demands without second thought, and without consulting his close aides or confidantes. Kamran Yousaf says that, "Khan responded by accepting all of these demands and expressed his willingness to 'walk with' the establishment once again".
Yousaf laments that even when political leaders receive public support and adoration, they still look to 'powerful quarters' to ensure their ascent - or in this case, return - to the corridors of power.

In Kamran Yousaf's assessment, the re-establishment of these good faith contacts came to an abrupt halt when Khan and his supporters resisted his lawful arrest at Zaman Park, and created law and order problems every time Khan appeared at the courts. At the same time, a poisonous and obscene social media campaign against the Pakistan Army and its senior leadership continues to vitiate the country's political atmosphere.

With all this in mind, Yousaf says that his sources report to him that the miltablishment is no longer willing to trust the former premier. He says that they are acutely aware of Khan reneging on his promises, and also of how Khan treated his previous benefactors in the miltablishment. "Khan's track record prevents the establishment from taking him seriously or making any new commitment to him," as per Kamran Yousaf.

Yousaf reminds the audience that former premier Khan was ready to mend fences with the current miltablishment, but the miltablishment was 'concerned' that Khan's change of posture was only temporary. The view is that Khan would just buy time until he gets an opportunity to treat the current miltablishment leadership the same way he treated Gen. (retired) Bajwa. "This air of distrust, or actually a trust deficit, between both sides is what became the reason for the process - to achieve rapprochement between the military leadership and Imran Khan - eventually coming to naught".

Kamran Yousaf adds that Khan's rally at Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan also displayed his apparent 'disappointment'. "When Khan openly says that the establishment has 'put a line' on him, or they will not let him come to power again, this public admission means Imran Khan knows that unless his current fight with the establishment and current army chief comes to a close, and unless he mends his relations with the establishment, we will not return to power," Yousaf surmises. Without a "channel of communication" or "understanding" between himself and the establishment, Khan perhaps believes that he might not become prime minister again no matter how popular he is. Yousaf says this is the reason why Khan readily accepted all the conditions presented to him by the banker, even though the process stalled later on.

"Again, this is the problem with our politicians, that despite so much popularity, they are perhaps still not convinced that they can reach high political office on just public power alone," Kamran Yousaf says, adding, "they still think that unless their 'line' with the establishment is set, it is not possible for them to come into power". Kamran Yousaf says this appears to be a contradiction that also exists in Imran Khan's ongoing policy. "Now that he is popular, Khan should have taken a clear cut position that he will not talk to the establishment, just like he says he will not talk to 'thieves and dacoits'," Yousaf says. He adds that "Behind the scenes, whenever such an offer is made, Imran Khan not only welcomes the offer but also accepts any and all conditions that are made to 'patch up' his relations with the establishment".

"It appears that currently, things between Imran Khan and the establishment are at a point of no return," Yousaf opines. He refers to interior minister Rana Sanaullah's statement on Imran Khan's divisive politics, and concludes that the conditions definitely seem to be heading toward such chaotic outcomes.