In Comes IMRAN KHAN

How important is your faith in your life and how does it guide you in your politics?What faith does for me is that it changes your life in the sense that you realize there is a reason for your...

How important is your faith in your life and how does it guide you in your politics?
What faith does for me is that it changes your life in the sense that you realize there is a reason for your existence which is not based on yourself. So your existence means the more the Almighty gives you, the more responsibility you have over what you do for society, or what you do for the less-privileged human beings. So faith should make you compassionate and selfless; it should make you just. We should be just human beings and fair. All this [is] because we believe in a hereafter. So therefore if we believe in a god that is a god of justice, we should believe we will be judged by how we treat our fellow human beings. So really, faith has made me a responsible member of human society and that is why I have entered politics. Otherwise, I would not have entered politics.

Do you feel there is the sense of self-esteem and optimism in Pakistan?
I have optimism. In one way, Pakistan is going through the worst of times and in another way, there is actually more hope for change now and that signals the best of times because the only thing that can save Pakistan is change. We are currently caught in the grip of a political mafia that is plundering the country and that comes in to politics to loot the country. It's a total criminal takeover of the country. On the other hand, there is a desire from a very politically aware section of Pakistan who now wants a change.

Edward Said believed the world is based on the idea of the West and "the rest." How true do you think this is?
In a sense, what we have to be careful of is what is called "cultural imperialism" and that [the] whole world is looked upon through Western eyes and they look upon our society through Western values. But the problem is Western values keep shifting. There are certain values which are universal values, like freedom of speech, democracy, human rights and the welfare state. These are great ideas, but they are not Western; they are universal. But then there are other things which are completely against the values of our country [that] are imposed on us, and many of those impositions can be in bad taste. You would expect that people coming from Pakistan should respect the values of the West, but so too should people not impose their values here in Pakistan. So, I guess that is what I would say in answer to Said's idea.

You are heavily critical of Pakistan as a mercenary state in that it is almost completely reliant on aid. Why is aid such a bad thing?
Because aid is a curse. Remember, aid has never helped any country — except for the Marshall Plan, which was a great success — and it has never helped any country stand on its own two feet. When people get together in a society and make collective sacrifices, they are the ones who are helping the country and putting it back on its feet. So aid has been a curse for Pakistan, and what it has done is propped up very corrupt governments and it has stopped us from making the very important reforms necessary to make Pakistan a viable state.

What has the "War on Terror" done to the region?
For a start, the war has given us a very corrupt leadership and taken us into a conflict which we have nothing to do with. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 — neither was there Taliban or al-Qaeda in Pakistan. It was all in Afghanistan. We had nothing to do with the war. It was just about [Musharraf's] dictatorship that wanted US support. We have thousands dead and over $70 billion lost to the economy. We have 3.5 million refugees internally displaced. There is growing extremism and radicalism, so the "War on Terror" has been a disaster and after fighting this war for the US, we are still not trusted, given all the sacrifices we have made. I blame our leadership for taking us into this war.
What kind of relations would you like Pakistan to have with Turkey, particularly as a country that is becoming popular amongst Muslim nations?
Well, let me say that what your prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has done in Turkey has been one of the biggest success stories in the Muslim world. The democratic trail has bought so much prosperity to the country, and Erdoğan has strengthened democracy and also given leadership to the Muslim world. The people of Pakistan have always considered Turks as their brothers and, ever since the Khilafat movement in the 1920s, people have looked to Turkey with pride. So there will always be a deep emotional connection with Turkey.

How would you envisage relations with India?
Well, I would like relations with India to improve, but it takes two to untangle a knot. We need good leadership in both countries to settle relations. Regrettably, there is so much suspicion and we regard each other with so much animosity and terrorism on each other's soils. So unfortunately, relations with India have not always been what they should have been, but the two countries will benefit a lot if we resolve differences politically rather than using secret agencies, which we currently do. Pakistan was created to be the Muslim country for the Indian subcontinent.

Abridged-Todays Zaman

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