Ready to go to Waziristan says Imran Khan: an exclusive interview with Daily Ummat
Translation by: (Asim Khan, PTI UK)
The reasons for suicide attacks are not religious but political. Political problems are resolved through dialogue not military operations. General Bilal was one of my close relatives and I am myself affected by those suicide attacks. The day we decided to come out of this American war, the situation in the country will get better. Why Altaf Hussain do not lend his voice to protest on the deaths of young and innocent children. Imran Khan, PTI chairman has offered to help mediate and bring this bloody episode of terrorism and suicide attacks and to have talks with different groups that exist in disguise of Talibans. He is also of the view that American war is not ours. Here is an exclusive interview with Imran Khan, PTI Chairman, for our readers.
Q: You stated the reason for suicidal attacks is not religious but political. The question is do they not use religious reasons to prepare them for these attacks?
A: The answer to your question is that Tamil tigers were not given any promises of Heaven. Suicide attackers were the product from that area first and 70% of suicidal attacks were the responsibility of Tamil tigers but the motivation may be the product of anything- and for that reason it could be religious as well. Pakistan Army and any Muslim armies fight in the concept of Jihad and they pronounce the words “Allah Akhbar”. Muslims fight in the name of Islam but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are fighting because of Islam. It’s a very important aspect to understand and to find out the reasons for these suicide attacks? The biggest reason and the most open reason is that American invaded Afghanistan and all this mayhem is due to this reason. These people are fighting against the Pakistan Army as they think that we are fighting American war. The moment we come out of this war and our support for this war, suicide attacks will stop. Because the reason will end. We have to look at the reason.
Q: Who sends these suicide attackers? How long will this carry on?
A: Our intelligence agencies have failed to establish this and hence the reason and need for this dialogue to take place. It is important to establish the different groups and their types operating in this region. Unless we find out the reason and its motivation, until then even the dialogue cannot take place. There are almost 5 groups working in Pakistan in the name of “Talibans”. A) foreign extremist elements b) extremists groups being supported by foreign supervision c) criminals groups) Jihadi groups e) Tribals whom have ethnic links being Pashtuns with Afghanistan. Our government follows the footsteps of the America and its policy of “Do More” and operating from that premise. We need to separate these five groups. We need to identify the real extremist elements/groups. For groups who believe that we are fighting American war we need to come up with the policy of telling them and reaffirming that now it’s time we come out of this war through dialogue. We need to come out from America’s war. We need to establish the belief and make them understand that Pakistan is not fighting American war. Once we have done that, the real extremist groups will be segregated from this exercise. I repeat again that once we have taken up the responsibility and ownership of this war, these issues will be resolved and finished.
Q: But who will talk to these extremists or Talibans?
I will go with the whole team to these tribal areas or Waziristan. But I have my terms and conditions as well. There is background to my offer of peace and dialogue. I have been screaming for past 5 years to end this war. It took just one phone call from Colin Powell to Musharraf to fall flat and to offer Pakistan support and subject ourselves to this war which was not ours. For last 5 years, we have been fighting someone else’s war; America pressurised us to have these operations in the tribal areas and as a result the army in direct conflict with the people. Same was done in Algeria by the Americans. The result that followed was the weakened relationship between the Army and the people. It has been almost 20 years in Algeria and still normalcy has not returned. It’s a huge damage of colossal proportions and we cannot afford this. This war has cost us a lot and as a result we have seen it. The American pressure and its influence brought tribal areas and the Army in direct conflict and all that damage and also as its result our urban areas have become the casualty as well from all those suicide attacks. Economic problems are so many that in last two years or so this government has borrowed 15 billion dollars of loan. Our internal loans and its amount have gone above five kharabs. How are we going to return this loan and this amount? On top of this, the escalating issues of electricity, industry almost on the verge of being shut down; we do not have effective tax collection mechanism in place, the inflation has gone up and as result all those issues. In Pakistan, percentage of tax payments is extremely low. We need to come out of all this. The solution is to stop and end this terrorism. It has to stop.
Q: That is the question, how are we going to stop terrorism?
This will only stop through dialogue and Americans have realised this too that Afghanistan issue cannot simply be resolved through military operation. The dialogue is the key. Although they are bringing 30,000 extra troops into Afghanistan but they have consulted with all their western allies, also with China and India but not with Pakistan. The reason they have not consulted is simply they know that Pakistan do not have a proper foreign policy or Afghan policy and secondly since they don’t, they will rely on American policy and its aims. American may find a way or reason to bring their troops in Pakistan as recently stated by James Jones very clearly unless Pakistan take more proactive actions. Otherwise their troops will enter Pakistan and also the drone attacks will increase and its scope this time in Baluchistan as well. We must not allow Americans to fabricate another issue or this reason to take place for American to bring their troops into Pakistan. Their main issue is with our nuclear programme. Hence, I have decided to hold talks with tribals and for this to take place it is important for the Government to pay attention and listen. My responsibility will be to work within those constraints and responsibilities provided by the 1973 constitution when I speak to them. I will hold this dialogue with both Jihadi and tribal groups to segregate them from foreign groups and criminal groups. But my terms and conditions with the Government are that they will not dishonour the agreement under American pressure. Whatever that is agreed between me and the other parties will be brought in front of the parliament. It is with this intention and aims I intend to speak to those groups to differentiate what are those foreign and criminal elements from the tribal and Jihadi groups and for this to take place the government of the day has to realise the importance, the delicacy of the situation and as a result arrange All Parties Conference. It is with this intention I ask the government of Pakistan to pay heed and attention to what I have stated; I say this as we now know the real intention of American policy and its target – Pakistan. Their new policies revolve around Pakistan and constant references and statements for Pakistan to further increase their operations inside their mainland. The New Obama policy has constant references and directives to Pakistan to broaden up this war to all areas and strong measures which need to be taken and if not then the scope of drone attacks and troops movements in Pakistan will kick into action. I ask the government to understand this and for God sake, please do something as CIA has been asked to increase their surveillance and all other activities resulting from the new American policy. What are we doing here? Americans are rambling across in Pakistan and we are simply watching it and doing nothing. They are simply looking for a reason to fabricate the reason to target our nuclear programme and its capabilities. They are looking for a reason through all this and we need to understand and get ourselves into action. I have also requested to the government whether its Black Water or De Cour, or Xe, their visas should be cancelled and all foreigners, armed with ammunition working under different disguises like Black water and the rest should be expelled from Pakistan. With their presence, the American hate factor in Pakistan increases but it also adds fuel to the extremist activities as it provides them with the reason. This is exactly what has happened and this is what we are seeing this episode of mayhem and horror; The Government has to come up with an independent foreign policy and we must not devise our policies to appease American masters and their ideologies.
Q: If the government accepts your terms and conditions, how will you know Talibans will listen to you as well and agree?
A: The only reason to the question above is that people do not consider me friendly towards American policies and its appeasement process. I do not buy American version of their wars and their policies as I have explained above. The reason I say this that I am not like other politicians; their accounts and assets are all in foreign countries. Whatever I have is in Pakistan and I do not take diction from the outside elements. These politicians have caught themselves in the foot as Americans are pressurising them that if they do not agree to what they want, all their assets and accounts will be frozen with charges of corruption and money laundering against their names and hence they listen to American voices and its aims. But this does not necessarily mean, I hate America and see them as enemy. I am only against their policies not their people. Their policies which have brought my country into this disarray and despair and worsening situation on daily basis. If they rectify their approach and policies then surely we can be friends with them on the principles of equality and the way two countries should enter dialogue and negotiations and all the rest.
Q: Are you certain that these suicide attacks are being done alone from Taliban’s?
A: This requires investigation as with each attack the responsibility is assumed and given to them. The interior minister now says that India is behind those attacks as well. I have spoken with people in Peshawar and they said Black Water is involved in all this. It is our fault that we view the situation always from the same angle. We need to change. We need to look at the real reasons that military operations in those areas has led to this reaction and hatred.
Q: Will you be able to resolve this issue?
A: Political issues are resolved by the politicians. Chaudhry Shajuhat is a politician but his political action was compromised by then the dictator and its stupor of power- He had found a political solution to both Lal Mosque and Balochistan and he had talks with Lal Masjid administration and Akbar Bughti but on both accounts, the power and its might was used for all the wrong reason and we now know the reaction as we know now was horrendous. The only worry is that our government should not succumb to American pressure as I know all the agreements which General Ourakzai had done, American got the government of Pakistan to dishonour them.
Q: If you were in the parliament, would you have submitted these recommendations through the parliament?
A: I would still have to come back to the people of Pakistan as our current parliament does not present itself as a strong and effective opposition. Everyone has their shares in their respective provinces- for some in Punjab and for some the partnership in Balochistan or some in Sindh. Hence parliament could not even implement their own resolutions; they agreed that drone attacks will not take place and condemned and on the second day the fury of attacks returned in those regions. Parliament should have gone mad upon finding it out that their resolution in unanimity had been ignored by the Americans and also their sovereignty was not taken in accordance by the Americans. Today the situation is that there is no person in this country whose lives have not been affected by this. General Bilal was my close relative and I am deeply affected by his death and as a result I too suffer from the same pain what the others are going through. People are afraid to send their children to schools, all sort of if and this scenarios come into their mind, anything could happen. They want to be assured and they want to see peace returned to their lives.
Q: Rehman Malik is gathering all the fatwahs against these suicide attacks
A: If all these things are to be resolved with fatwahs then Tamil pundits would have been issuing fatwahs as well. This is a political issue and it needs to be resolved through political means. Since 9/11 a lot of Islamic scholars from different countries have issued fatwahs against suicide attacks .NWFP has the most religious tendency out of all the provinces but fatwahs cannot resolve political issues like that. In Peshawar, every 40 hours, there is a suicide attack.
Q: Do you look with suspicion on American Ambassador’s role and activities in relation to foreign agencies armed and free, in Pakistan?
A: The real problem is the government of Pakistan. Why Pakistan allowed all these foreign agencies to come to Pakistan, brought all the weaponry and surveillance material with them. If these agencies are in Iraq and Afghanistan we can understand as they have been invaded by Americans; why they are in Pakistan as we surely can take care of our security and its requirements by our own forces. The whole infrastructure was destroyed in Iraq and hence the need for them and the same in Afghanistan where there is no military or police or security system. We have all these in places – the institutions and agencies.
Q: The American ambassador has stated that there is no such agency operating in Pakistan yet our interior minister has confirmed that there are?
A: If there are none as per the American ambassador, then who are these people roaming with guns and got caught in Lahore. They have lied to us repeatedly and it is the responsibility of the Government as they are the ones who allowed these personnel and issued visas to them. If they don’t have visas, then it’s even more dangerous.
Q: Government may or may not convene All Parties Conference, but are you in contact with all who are of the same view as you?
A: Firstly, government must make all efforts to resolve this matter immediately with all the peaceful means available. If Government doesn’t listen, and all these attacks of horror and mayhem continue, then we need to find out some more alternative options as who to speak with.
Q: Altaf Hussain has also devised a strategy to deal with terrorism issue that if he gets a power to reign Pakistan for 10 hours, everything will just be fine.
A: Altaf Hussain did well by saying and we all are against terrorism. We do not want our innocent people to die and we are against this but when American drone attacks take place and all these innocent people are dying, why Altaf Hussain has not condemned those attacks and protested about it? He should have protested against those attacks. Taliban can say the same things as Americans remind us of the collateral damage and they can use the same logic that we were only going after the forces. So we need to be against all forms of terrorism whether it takes place through drone attacks or suicide attacks. To be in power for 10 hours is bit ironical as its not regal system of the past that you get to become a king for one day and resolve everything.
Q: If Americans leave, they say Taliban will come here and with this Talibanisation?
A: Whoever says this is lying and hypocrite and not aware of the ground situation and also their loyalties and assets are not in Pakistan but somewhere else. Pakistan can never have Talibanisation. Believe me.