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Khan’s anti-American rhetoric

The anti-American rhetoric employed by former prime minister Imran Khan at various public gatherings has prompted some people to describe the PTI chief as someone who vehemently opposes imperialism.

Some PTI leaders are trying to compare him with socialist leaders of the past and nationalist heads of states who valiantly fought against the dark forces of liberalism and market rapaciousness. For this purpose, they have gone to the extent of distorting history, lumping Khan together with these great personalities in a bid to boost the image of a person who believes in a naked form of capitalism.

It may be mentioned that socialist leaders like Salvador Allende of Chile wanted a strong participation of working-class people in politics. In fact, such leaders had dreamt of a government that would be led by labourers, peasants and others belonging to low-income groups. Khan has had no time for such people. Some years back, he had even ventured to say that the poor should not take part in politics because in his view if they did, they would want to make money. Khan asserts those who already have money are not interested in running after wealth. It seems he wants only people with deep pockets to run the affairs of the state or deal with the arduous task of politics.

This assertion is very fallacious. In reality it is influential political personalities and figures with heavy bank balances who have plundered this country ruthlessly. Look at the list of the over 273 bank defaulters, who secured loans from the government banks and did not bother to repay, dealing a severe blow to the national exchequer. None of these defaulters are from the bottom layer of social stratification. One would not find any clerk, peon, labourer, peasant, taxi driver, vegetable seller or a shop keeper in this list.

Similarly, most of the rich who stashed away their money in foreign banks are not from the working-class areas of this country. Landless peasants have never tried to evade taxes. The only tax that they are legally bound to pay is sales tax which they pay regularly. There are government reports in the past suggesting that feudal and capitalists are involved in electricity theft. It is they who whitened their money by securing amnesty schemes. Some of these were also showered in favours during Khan’s regime.

Socialist and nationalist leaders strongly believed in the nationalization of one’s country’s resources and industries but the Kaptaan has been an ardent supporter of naked capitalism where everything has to be at the mercy of the market. For instance, the late former prime minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh, whose government was toppled in 1953, was battling the nefarious influence of the Anglo Iranian Oil Company that was allegedly backing the most reactionary elements of Iranian society besides siphoning off Iranian wealth. The company would earn more than $200 million at that time, giving back very little to Tehran. Mosaddegh demanded more profit for the government which technically owned the oil refineries and other resources but the British concern refused to do so. Instead the UK and the US orchestrated a coup, imposing a monstrous dictatorship on the country.

Unlike Mosaddegh, the champion of change in Pakistan doled out the Reko Diq contract at a throw-away price. He wanted to ignore all climatic vulnerabilities in Karachi’s Bundal and Buddo Islands. His government launched a massive propaganda scheme to appease foreign capital. No regard was given to the lives of indigenous people whose livelihood would have been devastated had Khan’s regime been successful in implementing this anti-people project. Timely resistance of the people defeated this voracious greed of local and foreign capital that was bent on turning a blind eye to the possible catastrophic impacts of this environmentally destructive project. Unlike Mosaddegh, Khan was trying to do it to appease the foreign capital.

Allende of Chile, Sukarno of Indonesia, Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala and a number of anti-American leaders not only fought against Western oil, gas, fruits and other types of companies but also challenged the hegemony of local capitalist collaborators who worked for international private capital. Khan, since coming to power, kept on rewarding such money-makers. He doled out over a Rs1000 billion bailout package for the money grabbers of the country besides showering favours on construction and other industries. The Pakistan Stock Exchange also benefited from his pro-capitalist policies.

Socialist and nationalist leaders around the world made hectic efforts to extend help and succour to the poor of the country. For instance, the revolutionary government of Cuba, despite all American machinations, multiple Bay of Pig type conspiracies and ruthless sanctions, managed to achieve 100 percent literacy, making Cuba the most literate country of Latin American as well as being the first state in the world to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. Its human development indicators are among the best in low-income countries with the socialist country also having one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

America bankrolled the Contras in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas, pushing the country towards a civil-war like situation and imposing crippling sanctions to weaken the socialist government which was elected by the people in 1979. Despite all these odds, the socialist government demonstrated miracles in health and education, prompting UN agencies to heap eulogies on government policies. Mosaddegh and Sukarno also tried to divert resources towards the uplift of people; Lumumba was not given enough time.

These leaders were able to extend some sort of relief to their people because they fought capitalists internally and externally. Imran Khan never expressed a desire to curtail the powers of private capital. On the contrary he heaped scorn on late Mairaj Muhammad Khan for his anti-capitalist approach. Khan naively believes that private investment generates wealth. But if that were the case, all 195 countries of the world would have been in the category of high-income states and not only 77.

Unlike these socialist leaders, Imran Khan is yet to make any drastic plan for the poor of the country. Poverty under his rule increased despite his tall claims to serve the underprivileged. The phenomenon of stunted growth is still haunting over 44 percent of Pakistani children. More than 60 million are still living in poverty. Around 80 percent of the population is yet to have access to pure drinking water.

So, the reason why the US opposed these socialist leaders and nationalist governments lay in their [the latter’s] economic policies. Almost all of them opposed unbridled capitalism. All these leaders believed in nationalization and controlled capital. All wanted to rein in local capitalists. Imran Khan on the other hand wanted ruthless neoliberal policies that were imposed by Latin American dictators on their people. Therefore, it is fair to say that his anti-Americanism is chimerical. He does not differ with the Western model of capitalism. His anti-Americanism is very similar to one espoused by Hungarian leader Victor Oban, Iranian clerics, the Afghan Taliban and Tayyab Erdogan. All these leaders want capitalism, liberalism, deregulation and privatization. Therefore, it is fair to say that Khan’s anti-American sloganeering can best be described as pseudo anti-imperialism that wants to oppose imperialist countries but loves to embrace their obnoxious economic system.

Email: egalitarianism444@gmail.com

Abdul Sattar, "Khan’s anti-American rhetoric," The News. 2022-04-20.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political personalities , Nationalist governments , Leadership , Economy , Dictatorship , Imran Khan , President Erdogan , Cuba , Turkey , HIV , PTI