Political drama unfolding in Pak under the watchful eyes of Army

Army’s ultimate control is the only underlying theme in the stability of Pakistan

By K.S. Tomar

Yet another brusque exit of the prime minister in Pakistan exhibits one phenomenon that it reigns supreme in this troubled country dating back to 1958. General Ayub Khan had seized the presidency from Iskander Mirza and left the office in 1969 passing the baton to another general Yahya Khan. Fortunately for the Indian subcontinent, the Indus water treaty was signed before Ayub Khan exited.

The army continued to rule the roost through Yahya Khan could not survive owing to an embarrassing loss to India in the 1971 war. He was forced to name Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was later toppled by General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977. Gen Zia continued as President till his death in a plane crash in 1988. The third so far, not by any means the last; coup took place in 1999 when General Pervez Musharraf ousted Nawaz Sharif in the aftermath of the Kargil fiasco. He resigned in 2008 with Asif Ali Zardari becoming the new president.

The Invisible Guiding Light: An Open Secret  

Army’s ultimate control is the only underlying theme in the stability of Pakistan since its independence. Democracy in Pakistan is again in trouble as its “Super Star” Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to play till the last ball. Incumbent Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa is proving to be a “Silent Slayer” in a very sophisticated manner while staying visibly ‘neutral’. Experts feel that the biggest blunder committed by Imran pertains to his illusion that he could defy the army and still stay in power.

Khan came to power in 2018 owing to the full support of the army hence opposition dubbed him as “Puppet” of the establishment. The army got alarmed Imran Khan decided to retain the former director-general of the ISI, Faiz Hameed, against the wishes of Bajwa. The command of ISI is now in the hands of Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum who is considered close to Bajwa. He also suspected that Imran Khan wanted to appoint Hameed as the next army chief.

Imran Khan’s conspiracy theory against America to topple him from the PM’s post was at variance with thinking of the army. The United States secretary of defense and security advisors kept a channel open with Bajwa during withdrawal from Afghanistan which is evidence of his association with the Joe Biden administration. But Imran Khan lambasted America’s Afghan policy and now held the US responsible for writing a letter that has been rejected by the army.

Dragon’s Shadow

Analysts point out that if Khan loses the battle in the court then it will be a big setback to China which had tried to save his chair especially after the PM accused America of conniving with Pak opposition to removing him. Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi had assured Imran if America was behind the opposition move then he will get full support from his country. But it appears that it has not worked as the Khan government has been reduced to a minority in parliament. On the other hand, Imran is credited for completely spoiling relations with the United States by putting all eggs in China’s basket. The ties between the two countries had gone sour even during the Trump regime which gave priority to India to counter China and abandoned Pakistan. US president Joe Biden did not call Imran Khan even after the elapse of several months which speaks of a volume of tension between the two nations.

Dance of Non-existing Democracy

Pakistan plunged into a constitutional crisis when Speaker Qasim Suri rejected the No-confidence motion in the national assembly on the basis of a conspiracy hatched by a foreign power. The opposition had the backing of more than 199 lawmakers including 24 from Imran Khan’s party in the house of 543. Khan’s recommendations to President to dissolve the parliament also smacked the greed for power as he had already lost the majority.

Due to the standoff between the Prime minister and the opposition in the parliament, the army had reportedly tried to adopt a ‘neutral’ posture during a no-confidence motion moved by three opposition parties in the parliament. Imran surprisingly said only animals remain neutral which had sealed his fate and the rest is history in itself which unfolded slowly leading to the defeat of the PM in parliament. Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ dream had been shattered after his government proved a big failure on all fronts tackling the serious economic distress, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, breaking the backbone of people, and the highest level of inflation, deteriorating law, and order, failure of foreign policy. Imran Khan’s government has also lost public support owing to rocketing inflation and ballooning foreign debt, especially from China.

A Yorker in toes of Army

Before he became prime minister, Imran Khan was happy to hold forth about the role of the armed forces in Pakistan. Once in office, he tried to change the status quo. Imran played to the gallery when he talked about the US conspiracy which was rebutted by Bajwa in no uncertain terms.

Imran Khan accused the US official in charge of south and central Asian affairs, Donald Lu meddling in Pakistan’s internal politics and accused him of conspiring with the opposition to throw him out of power. Interestingly, Khan has quoted Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Asad Majeed’s cable which mentions the purported conversation with a senior American state department official thereby allegedly indicating the US determination to see Imran out of office. US officials in the White House had sharply reacted to this claim and described it as a figment of imagination that has not been heard in the history of diplomacy in the world.

President of Pakistan named former chief justice Gulzar Ahmed as the caretaker PM on the advice of Imran Khan. On the other hand, Supreme Court is taking its own time to decide the issue of the No-Confidence Motion moved by the opposition in the National Assembly.

An unstable Pakistan is not in the interest of anyone in the world. The Bajwa doctrine, nonetheless, gives a meager reflection of hairline optimism in an otherwise gloomy political situation. Army generals are expected to punish Khan as he allegedly tried to divide the army and rule the nation but the dream proved a mirage on the altar of realities for the heartthrob PM of Pakistan.

But, picture abhi baki hai..!

(Writer is a Columnist and Political Analyst based in Shimla, India)

Images courtesy of (Image Courtesy: News18), (Image Courtesy: Quora) and Provided

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