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'I am against a secular state; it is an alien structure' - The Times of India

Seema Gupta ()
5 February 1997

Title : 'I am against a secular state; it is an alien structure'
Author : Seema Gupta
Publication : The Times of India
Date : February 5, 1997

Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan believes he will one day be the
prime minister of Pakistan. He knows the time has not come, but is
supremely confident he is destined to change the politics of
Pakistan. In the five months since he announced his decision to
join politics, he has lost count of the hundreds of meetings he has
addressed across the country. Addressing a public meeting in
Lahore, he appears like a veteran at his job -he has charisma, a
powerful voice and knows how to work the crowds. His ideology is
somewhat confused - he talks of an ideal Islamic state where
freedom, justice and equality will go side by side with public
hanging of the corrupt. Excerpts from an interview:

What have you learnt from your first five months in active

It has been very hectic. Since September, except for a week when
my son was born, I have not taken a day off. Not spending time
with my wife and son has been hard.

I have never voted so far. As a cricketer, I was mostly out of the
country, playing professional cricket for six months in England.
Leading a political party has been hectic, especially as 80 per
cent of our candidates are new; we have all learnt together.
Whatever be the results, the basis for the future has been laid.
We can now differentiate the men from the boys in the party.

Personally I have learnt nothing new. The personal attacks were
there from the time I began to work for the cancer hospital. The
corrupt and established politicians have always regarded me as a
threat, even before I formally entered politics. So this smear
campaign, this Sita White business, is nothing for me.

You have already denied Sita White's charges, but what about her
suit in the Los Angeles court?

I was waiting for the campaign to end. I will now deal with it
through my lawyers. I do not want to say anything more at this

Why do you keep talking about hanging the guilty? Don't you think
it is barbaric?

The only answer to corruption is the death penalty. Pakistan needs
radical surgery. The corrupt have always got away. Nawaz Sharif,
Benazir Bhutto, President Leghari, all of them are corrupt.
Leghari sacked Benazir for corruption. But there are charges
against him. Nawaz Sharifs land deals are well known. He gave
away hundreds of acres to his friends and family, cheating the
state of billions of rupees. Who will take action, when everybody
is corrupt?

What about the accountability commission?

It's a big joke. People have got away with looting for so long
that nothing can happen, unless drastic steps are taken to punish
the guilty. Around $22 billion have left this country in the last
ten years, money which could have been used for education, health,
civic amenities.

You have been critical of lane Pakistani state as it now exists.
With what would you like to replace it? ,

Pakistan is neither a democracy nor an Islamic state. Western
style democracy cannot work here. I am for an Islamic state.,
people in Pakistan want an Islamic state. Benazir covers her head,
and Nawaz Sharif is again talking about an Islamic state to get
votes, while when he was prime minister he was against it. I am
against a secular state, because it is an alien structure, not
growing out of our own needs but imposed by our colonial rulers.

I believe in a proper debate on the Islamic state and the
interpretation of the Shariat. Islam, as I see it, stands for
tolerance, justice and equal opportunity for all. Malaysia's
experiment with Islam has been good. Malaysia is an Islamic state,
yet it is also a multi-ethnic society. I am not saying it is
perfect. But Malaysia has made a good start. We have to find our
own structures. In the tribal areas in Pakistan where the Jirga
system is followed, it is working very well; the crime rate is
lower than in Karachi or Islamabad. The Islamic way of life is
where the family is pivotal and the elders of the society decide
what is best for the community.

What do you think of the role of the military in Pakistan?

So far it has played a commendable role. It is headed by a
professional soldier who refused the temptation of jumping into the
fray, when politicians have made such a mess.

If you were prime minister, would you cut down on defence

No, I will not compromise on defence. Every state must have the
capability to defend itself. Look what happened in Bosnia, which
is not some third world country but in the middle of Europe. The
world watched as people were killed like flies.

What are your views on the CTBT?

Nuclear weapons should be eliminated worldwide. Or India and
Pakistan should come to a bilateral arrangement. Otherwise it
makes no sense for us to give up the nuclear option.

Your views on India-Pakistan ties?

I am a staunch believer in good relations with India. But Kashmir
has been a major stumbling block. Politicians on both sides have
exploited the Kashmir issue. We need a strong government to solve
this problem.

What role do you see for yourself and your party after the

We will be a thorn in the side of the government. We will work
relentlessly to fight corruption and bring the guilty to book.

Do you see yourself as a future prime minister?

Yes. Eventually I do. But I want to be prime minister when I can
do something for the country. At the moment, with the council for
defence and security and the president, there is not much one can

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