NEW DELHI: Imran Khan is the 19th Prime Minister of Pakistan who failed to complete his five-year term.
"Most of the ousted PM’s were removed by the army or courts, but Imran Khan removed himself!,’’ tweeted senior Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi.
With Imran’s unceremonious exit, speculation is rife in India on how his nominated successor, 70-year-old Shehbaz Sharif’s, approach will be towards India.
India’s relations with Pakistan took a downward slope during the tenure of Imran Khan as he continuously parroted Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir and was hawkish with India. Though Shehbaz too has raised the Kashmir issue, his tenor is softer towards India and minorities.
During Holi he wished Hindus living in Pakistan for the festival and tweeted, "our diversity is our greatest strength. Pakistan belongs to all its citizens, irrespective of their caste, creed and colour. May the day be source of peace and happiness for all.’’
Shehbaz often tweets condemning the killings of minorities (Hindus and Christians) in Pakistan. Such instances reflect a more neutral politician. He even mourned the passing away of legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar.
However, one can’t be sure whether this sentiment will lead to a change in Pakistan's stand on India.
Shehbaz’s brother former PM Nawaz Sharif has had close ties with Indian industrialist Sajjan Jindal. Experts on Pakistan say that there is a possibility of a collaborative venture between India and Pakistan through Jindal in the times ahead as there is a strong possibility of Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan.
Shehbaz Sharif is also part owner of a steel conglomerate Ittefaq group.
On the foreign policy, Shehbaz will continue close ties with the US, China and Turkey. There have been concerns expressed on his health though as he is a cancer survivor.
Democracy seems to be finding its feet in Pakistan, if Shehbaz is successful in restoring that till elections are held next year, a thaw in India’s relations with Pakistan cannot be ruled out. Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto has recalled what happened on April 10, besides being the that Pakistan approved its Constitution.
On April 10th, 1986, Benazir Bhutto ended her self-imposed exile and arrived in Lahore to launch her struggle against Ziaul Haq. It is the same day that Imran proved to be an undemocratic burden on the country and saw the end of his rule.
"I have a message for the Pakistani youth that they should never give up their dreams as nothing is impossible. Democracy is the best revenge,’’ says Bilawal.
One can only hope that this optimism of having a truly democratic form of government in Pakistan becomes a reality, as only then can there be a significant improvement in relations between India and Pakistan which would begin with the reestablishment of trade ties between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan today said that Pakistan got its freedom in 1947 but their `freedom struggle’ has begun with the ouster of his government due to a foreign conspiracy.
To add to the drama, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that PTI members will resign en masse as a mark of protest if Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination as the next PM is not rejected.
More drama is likely to unfold in Pakistan in the coming days, as Imran Khan isn’t willing to concede defeat just yet.