New Delhi, Feb 19: Imran Khan, legendary cricketer and firebrand politician has a lot of things on his mind besides cricket these days. A die hard patriot and above all an optimist at heart, Imran Khan opened up during an interview with a television channel with his fiery rhetoric. Not on cricket, but on the political turmoil in Pakistan.
While the Middle East is witnessing an upheaval and slowly inching towards a democratic set up, Imran stunned everyone when he said that Pakistan could be the next Egypt. He added in the tete-a-tete with CNN-IBN, “Pakistan is going through the worst of times and the best of times. The country has an independent Supreme Court through a massive street movement. It has the most vibrant media comparable to anywhere in the world. It has a public that is more politically aware than ever."
Imran Khan reiterated that his optimism came from the extreme faith he had in his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), and stated, “Ours is already the most popular party in Pakistan amongst the youth and 70 per cent of Pakistanis are under the age of 30."
Keeping in mind that the general elections in Pakistan are scheduled to be held in 2013, he commented on the popularity of his party and said, “The last election my party contested was 8 years back, and the party was only 5 years old then. Now it's a 14-year-old party and it is spread all over Pakistan. In a recent survey of 10 universities in Lahore and Karachi, 70 per cent were with PTI. So I am confident that the next election will be swept by my party."
On the simmering Kashmir problem that has become a major bone of contention for both India and Pakistan, Imran said, “It would need strong leaderships in India as well as in Pakistan (to address the Kashmir issue). The first step will be to get the Army out of Kashmir because whether it is Waziristan, Baluchistan or Kashmir, we have seen that the Army action makes things worse. It can never be a solution. Kashmir needs a political, not a military solution, a solution based on justice."
He also gave strong-worded comments on the rising Taliban influence in Pakistan and said, “The current terrorism is largely due to a puppet government fighting someone else's war and bombing its own people. There were no militant Taliban in Pakistan until on behest of the US we sent our troops in the tribal areas. The military operations created the Pakistani Taliban."
He gave assurances on what he can bring to the table if his party is voted to power and said, “If my party comes to power, we will immediately pull our forces out of the tribal areas and enlist our own tribal people to hunt down the real terrorists. Extremism will subside very quickly, then the real terrorist will be easy to track down and tackle."