My Führer is upset again, and again the reason is Narendra Modi.
On August 18, in his weekly Sunday outburst on Twitter, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan informed the world that “India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology & leadership.”
He apprised everyone of how the “Hindu Supremacist Modi govt poses a threat to Pakistan as well as to the minorities in India & in fact to the very fabric of Nehru & Gandhi’s India.” According to Imran Khan, all one has to do “to understand the link between the Nazi ideology & ethnic cleansing & genocide ideology of the RSS-BJP Founding Fathers” is “just Google” – something that the prime minister often fails to do himself.
Imran Khan shared a Haaretz article, ‘Hitler’s Hindus: The Rise and Rise of India’s Nazi-loving Nationalists’ to make his point, which, considering he has been labelled a “Jewish agent” (due to his ‘Jewish connections’ through his ex-wife Jemima) was the first real act of courage since he came to power. Seemingly on a never-ending rant, the PM ascertained that India is under siege, and no one in the country – be it Christians, Dalits or Muslims – is safe.
Khan will do what Hitler couldn’t
Now, since when did Hitler become a bad example for Imran Khan? Only last year, he had used Adolf Hitler as a shining example while defending his policy of taking U-turns in politics – “a leader who does not know how to take U-turns is not successful”. “Hitler and Napoleon (Bonaparte) suffered huge defeats and caused losses as they did not take U-turns,” Khan was very clear.
So what if Hitler couldn’t take U-turns, Imran Khan will continue to do so, as the recent three-year extension of Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure showed. The PM had previously criticised Pakistan People’s Party for giving an extension to then-Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and also reacted strongly to rumours about General Raheel Sharif’s extension, saying that institutions should be strengthened, not individuals.
Ironically, Khan has also once quoted the revolutionary Soviet politician, Joseph Stalin, to make a case for free and fair elections and “genuine democracy” in Pakistan: “Political power does not rest with those who cast the votes, political power rests with those who count those votes.” And who counts the votes in Pakistan?
Good Hitler, bad Hitler
There are two types of Hitler in Pakistan. The good Hitler is one that can be quoted while justifying the U-turn policy. The bad Hitler is the real one from Germany.
The opposition often calls Imran Khan a ‘Hitler’ for his regime’s highhandedness and political witch-hunt. Two former prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi; Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz; former President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur; and several Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leaders are languishing in jail over trumped up charges.
When Imran Khan says that judges in India are afraid, the media is labelled seditious for questioning the Modi government’s actions, and the opposition parties there are “pushed to the wall”, his opposition leaders at home turn around and ask him if he was talking about his own regime in Pakistan. “If Modi has pushed the opposition parties to the wall, Khan is one step ahead of him. Khan has pierced the opposition parties into the wall,” opposition leader in the national assembly and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif had responded to Khan in the joint sitting of Parliament.
In Imran Khan, Sharif sees “all the characteristics of Hitler”. “Prime Minister Imran Khan is a fascist. He destroyed the country’s economy; no businessman is ready to invest.”
Pakistanis’ obsession with Hitler
When Hitler is not being used by Imran Khan to describe Modi, he is being mentioned with reverence, his military prowess is being boasted about, and his disciplinary ways is what we are being reminded we need. The systematic murder of more than six million Jews and other minorities under Hitler’s watch serve well to fan anti-Semitism, as do the “Yahood and Hanood” (Jews and Hindus) conspiracy theories that prop up seemingly because India has diplomatic relations with Israel and Pakistan doesn’t.
It is easy to look the other way from Hitler’s discrimination when the same treatment is meted out to the Ahmadiyya community, whose members stand expelled from Islam by a constitutional amendment in 1974.
So, it wasn’t surprising when Fayaz ul Hasan Chohan, a minister in Imran Khan’s cabinet and a member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, mentioned Hitler as one of his ‘idols’ in his Twitter bio. Or when the PTI’s troll army made sure to defend the Nazi leader and remind us just what a great guy he was.
Nothing out of the ordinary for Chohan, who also reveres Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Punjab’s former governor Salmaan Taseer. Lover of killers of any kind. Chohan also showed his Hitler-like tendencies when he made anti-Hindu remarks after the Balakot airstrikes in February.
Chohan called Hindus “cow urine-drinking people who shouldn’t live under the delusion that they are better than us”. “What we have, you can’t have, you idol-worshippers,” he had said. He was sacked from his post of information and culture minister but subsequently returned as minister for colonies last month.
Lack of historical education is one but the imposing perception of Hitler as a ‘hard taskmaster’ makes the Nazi leader an instant hit among a section of Pakistanis. It is something like the obsession about the ‘danda’ (stick) and about making everyone fall in line. Hitler is like that mother-in-law who will discipline and keep a close check on you. Who cares if there is more to it in history!
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.