Press TV has conducted an interview with Liaghat Ali Khan, Professor of Law at Washburn University, Kansas about public protests led by Imran Khan calling for the resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview. Press TV: What do you think about the statements made by our guest Mr. Sadaqat Ali Abbasi of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party who are leading the protests in Islamabad? Khan: I think the charges of rigged elections may be legitimate and I think the system ought to respond to these allegations. But it seems like the situation is much more complex than what Mr. Imran Khan is presenting to the nation.
Imran Khan has 35 seats in the parliament; but the other gentleman who is a little more revolutionary than Mr. Imran Khan, he has no seats in the parliament – actually he is a Canadian citizen and also a citizen of Pakistan.
These two gentlemen have coordinated their efforts and they are both in Islamabad in the ‘red zone’ and they are trying to topple the government.
I think Mr. Imran Khan has joined hands with Mr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and they want to bring a revolution. They don’t believe in the parliament; they don’t believe in the Supreme Court; they don’t believe in the Election Commission; the only thing they believe in is the armed forces of Pakistan. And I think that is not the way to advance the democratic process in Pakistan.
So the claim that Mr. Imran Khan that he is democratic is not believable because of his alliance with Mr. Qadri. Press TV: Let’s look at some of the criticism leveled against Iran Khan. One of the things he was severely criticized for and mocked at the same time, ridiculed by some, is the fact that during one of the protests he asked the people in Pakistan not to pay their utility bills - which kind of summed up his character based on some of the people who critiqued him.
Would you critique him for that and does this indicate his personality? Khan: Yes, I think Mr. Imran Khan he is very popular, he has charismatic appeal, the people of Pakistan like him, but it seems to me sitting in the United States that Mr. Imran Khan is very temperamental and intellectually immature.
In a democratic system if you go to the Supreme Court, if you go to the parliament and your demands are not met and your demands are not accepted, then you don’t go on the street and try to tear down the system or the state. In a democratic system you temporarily accept your defeat and you say to yourself I have been unsuccessful in the parliament, I have been unsuccessful in the Supreme Court, but in the next elections I will go to the people and make my case. I don’t think that’s what Mr. Imran Khan has done.
Even if the Supreme Court and parliament were not listening to his demands the option is not to tear down the system and to reject the parliament and to reject the Supreme Court. I think the answer is to wait and be patient.
And his call not to pay taxes; his call to go and invade parliament and the prime minister’s house…. These are not the demands acceptable in a democratic system where the rule of law ought to prevail. Press TV: Do you have a response specifically to the fact that our guest says Nawaz Sharif has actually gone against the state institutions like the army and like the judiciary? Khan: Unfortunately the history of Pakistan is such that the armed forces have persistently intervened in the political process and has overthrown democratically-elected governments.
And I think Mr. Nawaz Sharif has been overthrown twice so if he is overthrown this time this will be the third time. Press TV: Do you think there is a coup in the making? Khan: I don’t think so. I think the generals have learned their lesson and they think they are incapable of running this very complex country. And furthermore the press is very free and the courts are very independent. So, in these circumstances, it would be impossible for the generals to survive and rule the country. So I don’t think there is any fear of a coup. Press TV: Back to the relationship between Nawaz Sharif and the army I would really like to find out what is the story there because there are reports that have gone as far saying that Nawaz Sharif has indeed created this friction for three main reasons: one, pursuing the case of treason against Pervez Musharraf; two, eager to make peace with India; and the third being trying to negotiate peace with extremists of the Pakistani Taliban.
Is that true? What is the relationship right now as we speak between the army and Nawaz Sharif? Khan: All three reasons you have mentioned, they do influence differing viewpoints on foreign policy.
The military government and the military in general, they prefer that no rapprochement is reached with India; I think they are also very mad that Pervez Musharraf, their army chief, is being tried; and maybe there is some pressure not to be close to China. You didn’t mention that, but let me add that factor into the mix, too.
Yes I think as far as the Nawaz government is concerned they want to establish normal relationships with India, they want to open up trade. Nawaz Sharif is basically a businessman so he sees politics through the eyes of business and he believes that if India opens up its business with Pakistan that Pakistan would do well.
So, yes, I agree with you that on foreign policy there is tension between the viewpoints of the Nawaz government and the viewpoints of the military.
And I think the best way to sort it out would not be to destabilize the Nawaz government, but to negotiate. I’m talking about the military negotiating with the civilian government in order to arrive at a foreign policy, which is good for Pakistan and which is also good for the army.
So I think that’s the solution to this problem and not to destabilize the political system and not to destabilize the constitutional system in Pakistan.