The American media generally and the New York Times specifically has had a bellyache with the rise of Imran Khan, which reflects the bellyache of the American corporate power. WikiLeaks revealed that Imran Khan was a rare leader not under American influence. If we look at the editorials of the Times right after Imran Khan’s election victory in July 2018 and compare it to the editorial right after when Nawaz Sharif won the election in May 2018, the contrast in language and the spin are quite revealing.

Both the editorials start off with quite contrasting languages. When Khan won the election, the editorial titled “A New Batsman for Pakistan” says, “Imran Khan, cricket-star-turned-politician, promises a new path for Pakistan. But his ties to the military, and his own at-times erratic behavior, may stand in the way.” After Sharif’s victory in 2013, the editorial titled “Pakistan’s Hopeful Election”, says, “The news from Pakistan is often terrible...The election was a welcome repudiation of militants who are trying to overthrow the state.”

With Sharif set to becoming the Prime Minister in 2013, the editorial said, “Pakistanis deserve credit for their courage, and the military for allowing the election to go ahead and deploying 73,000 troops to keep order.” In July 2018, however, the editorial said, “Mr. Khan’s victory is not free of taint. The powerful military and intelligence services threw their considerable and suspect weight behind him, and rival parties cried fraud.” The Times praised the election in 2013 as a peaceful transition of power and said that Prime Minister Sharif “wisely made his finance minister his first appointment, selecting Ishaq Dar.” We now know how wise a decision that was for the people of Pakistan.

The editorial in 2013 hails Mr. Sharif as “a fiscal conservative who favors free-market economics.” Free-Market economics ordinarily means laissez-faire capitalism where the market is free from government’s intervention; however, the above reference is a code word for freeing up the market through neoliberal economic policies for the manipulations by western corporations in their quest for maximising profit and minimising cost. As mentioned above, WikiLeaks had shown that Khan was not going to be Washington’s man in Islamabad. It was Khan who had protested vehemently against the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. He had even blocked the NATO supply lines as a protest against drone strikes. Daniel Markey, author of the book No Exit from Pakistan, at a World Affairs Council arranged talk in Houston said that by criticising US foreign policy generally and the drone strikes specifically, Khan was merely “playing mischief”. I wonder if he would have the same opinion if tables were turned?

The 2013 Times Editorial hailed Prime Minister Sharif’s decision to invite the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his inauguration ceremony and said peace with India was good. It added, “But a major obstacle to effective civilian rule in Pakistan and peace with India, has been the military.” When Khan’s recent peace overtures toward India resulted in once again exposing India’s belligerent and anti-peace mindset, the Times did not publish one story over it. Total silence. Try searching for a Times story about Khan’s peace overtures to India and how India rudely rejected them or even about the Kartarpur opening by Khan and write to me if you can find anything because I could not.

About the peace offers made by Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, the paper said it is a case of a “system mismatch”. That the Pakistan Army is powerful but the Indian army is weak and cannot make political decisions. Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat did have the powers though to make peace with Pakistan if Pakistan as he demanded became a secular state. The New York Times didn’t call it “a major obstacle to peace”, but rather a “system mismatch”. Should Noam Chomsky write Manufacturing Consent Part II ?


The writer is a political analyst.