I doff my cap in the honour of the Wazeer-e-Azam of Pakistan, Imran Khan. The man has some wicked sense of timing as is as shameless and full-of-himself as any leader of Pakistan should be.
“What a time I have come, there is so much excitement”, he was seen giggling and overheard telling a Russian official immediately after landing in Moscow. The Russian troops were so excited with Khan’s landing that they ended up invading Ukraine the very next morning. Serious-minded readers might consider his remark as facile or foolish, but they’re certainly not aware of flattery being the Pakistani expertise, and subsequent self-congratulatory mode in which it transports them.
Khan Saheb looked quite dashing in his Navy Blue Shalawar and Pathan suit with matching Trench Coat over it. Thank heavens, he preferred Sports Shoes over his Peshawari Chappals that he had worn when he had called on Trump in Washington. With due apologies to that Nazi Trudeau , Boris ‘Ruffled’ Johnson and Macron, Pakistan can justly claim to be saddled with the second-most handsome leader in the world. The most handsome, of course, is the host himself, Vladimir Vladimirovich, President of Donbas, Luhansk, Crimea and Russia, and whichever other land he might end up fancying.
A Junior Minister, no less, received Imran at the airport. He was even given a Guard of Honour. Pakistan would rather have welcomed some military spare parts or valuable Roubles. Imran Khan was so overwhelmed with emotion at being taken seriously that he found himself at loss for words. People back home were relieved that he did not get to speak much. First Pakistan PM to visit Russia in more than two decades, and what a moment to be there! Imran’s visit would forever be remembered. After all, it began a day before the Invasion started, and would finish a day after Russian troops entered eastern Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin could not have found a more suitable use for Imran Khan than using him as a decoy. The whole world waited for the Beijing Winter Olympics to be concluded. They knew Russia won’t steal limelight from this grand sporting spectacle. Of course, being a Peacock Prince, Imran did not know, or care about all that. He had been to the Olympic Inaugural as well. Xi and Putin had even shaken hands with him. But Putin not grant Imran a bilateral meeting in Beijing as was requested by the Pakistani side. Yet Imran had felt an instant connection with the Russian leader.
Russia did not invite, rather Pakistan sought, China blessed, Russia conceded and gave dates, US did not even bother to object (Pakistan being so irrelevant) and Imran reached Moscow two days after the Olympics were wrapped up. The dates were possibly finalized by Russia keeping in the mind the incoming invasion, and it served the purpose of hoodwinking the US and Ukraine about the actual timing. Dressed like a Russian-Pathan dulha, hoping for a warm Putin handshake, possibly a hug and some (any) sort of largesse, Imran arrived to realize his dream of walking on the Kremlin floor. Such is the level of acceptance ingrained in Pakistani culture that anything Putin gives would be quite welcomed by the whole country. They might not feel obliged to remain grateful for long, for such is their national character, but would make a huge show of it and fawn over the Russians. As a reciprocal gesture, Putin might be decorated with the Nishan-e-Pakistan or Hilal-e-Pakistan.
There is a lot of speculation in some circles regarding the real purpose of this visit. Is Imran playing Erdogen’s messenger boy, taking the Sultan’s missive about some sort of deployment or distraction around Bosphorus or Dardanelles, or in Syria or in the Black Sea? Imran would have gladly become Emperor Xi’s errand boy too, but the Chinese do not need postal service for they have direct access. Vladimir Putin had travelled to Beijing for the Olympics Inaugural Ceremony, and must have sought XI’s prior blessings for the Invasion. Many fear the rise of a Rogue-Quad comprising of China-Russia-Turkey-Pakistan. It is already a reality. But given the special nature of relationship with India, Russia won’t make any promises on Kashmir. China also knows how to separate her own interests- political, strategic and economic- from those of Pakistan’s, and would not like prefer front to be opened up beside Ukraine, Taiwan and Ladakh. Hence, Imran’s tour is likely to yield only few smiles , claps and the attendant pomp and show, nothing meaty as such.
Imran has been granted a bilateral attendance with Putin, so the visit is already a success. Everything else should be considered valuable bonus. That Imran Khan chose to bring up rising ‘Islamophobia’ and human rights in Kashmir during the meeting must have definitely amused Putin. Imran must have also raised the denial in India of the inalienable right of Muslim women to wear hijab as well as criminalizing of triple talaq. It is reliably learnt from the Kremlin sources that Putin yawned at this very moment, and asked if Imran actually believes that women, including his wife, must be forced or even allowed to walk around with tents over their heads?
Perhaps Pakistan is a tad too scared by the similarities between the histories of Pakistan and Ukraine, both being artificial, modern constructs. Like Donbas, Luhansk and Crimea in Ukraine, Pakistan also faces the ire of breakaway regions like Baluchistan, frontier areas, POK, Gilgit and Baltistan. India, under the strong, decisive and nationalist leadership of PM Modi, has also made up her mood, quite like Putin’s Russia has. Maybe this is the reason for Imran’s rush. Perhaps he wants Putin to use his good offices and prevail upon India to not use the Ukrainian precedent to dismember Pakistan. But Russia knows that all it can get out of befriending beggars are frequent loan requests, and lots of ‘laanats’ and ‘bad-dua’ on refusal.
Contrary to what the unkind commentators think, even Imran is not that naïve or stupid to understand that the visit is ill-timed. It is just that utter shamelessness, greed and fear of Indian adventurism have so pervaded the Pakistani psyche, that they are ready to brave any insult. Imran would be happy if this visit might carry some favour with Pakistan Army, and buys him insurance in power for a few more months. If he can get some dole or alms for his country in the bargain, or even manages to steal out some cutlery or tapestry, so much the better. These are hallmarks of a truly failed state and a leader that belongs in its top post. Imran can play chauffer to the Saudi Crown Prince with panache, beg Biden to call him at least once, request Modi for a TV debate to resolve serious conflicts and ask Macron to mediate on Kashmir, all because he is Im the Dim.
What he cannot do is ask Bajwa to let him govern, and Hafiz Sayeed to wind up his dirty jihad, and therein shall be his legacy.
#IMRANKHAN #Pakistan #ImraninRussia #ImranPutin #VladimirPutin #Russia #PakistanRussia #ImtheDim
#Moscow #Kremlin #Ukraine #modi #India #POK #US