Tirade against Pakistan army, caught in political crosshair

It is unrealistic to expect the security establishment to completely withdraw from the political sphere in Pakistan.

ANI | Updated: 18-01-2023 08:03 IST | Created: 18-01-2023 08:03 IST
Tirade against Pakistan army, caught in political crosshair
Representative Image. (Photo Credit - Reuters) . Image Credit: ANI
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The all-powerful Pakistan army is tangled in political crosshair as it is facing the tirade from those it has patronized and promoted, writes Federico Giuliani, in Insideover. Pakistan army is known to tamper with the democratic system by engineering the ouster of one government, and later, propping up proxy governments in the country.

These are bad times for the all-powerful Pakistan Army. A troubled change of guard last November has not helped. None seems to believe its public pronouncements that it is 'neutral' and not in the political game, reported Giuliani. The recently-retired chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, continues to be targeted for his omissions and commissions during the six long years he held the office.

Former Prime Minister Imran who engineered Bajwa's three-year extension through the executive, National Assembly and the Supreme Court that demanded a change in the Army Act, regrets it as his "biggest mistake," reported Insideover. Those who facilitated that extension now condemn their own move. That includes the ruling dispensation, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and partner PPP. Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi and Mushahid Hussain Sayed, senior PML-N officials, have demanded that the law under which Bajwa got the extension should be repealed and that no future military chief should be given any extension.

The move aims to retain the space that the political class has gained vis-a-vis the army in the last two years. In Pakistan, the army generally enjoys a very high level of respect and public adulation for its professional work. This sometimes generates a self-righteous attitude among officers where they feel they have a monopoly over patriotism and everybody else is suspect. Deep mistrust between civilian and military leaders ensures a permanent dysfunctional state.

It is noteworthy that the military establishment brought Khan to power in August 2018 in a 'hybrid regime' experiment. Evidently, Rawalpindi continues to misuse its unlimited powers and intervene in civilian politics despite 'official' promises to disengage the military from politics. Barely a few weeks in office (since November 29 last year), the new chief, General Syed Asim Munir has said only the 'correct' things like defending the nation, the security being the top priority and a stray Pro-forma statement against India, reported Giuliani.

He has refrained from saying anything remotely political. He has made no known statement on the ravages of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that have caused scores of his men to be killed and maimed. Nor has Munir commented on border clashes with Afghanistan. It is a far cry from Bajwa visiting Kabul last year or earlier in September 2021, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, then ISI chief, who famously intervened in the government-making in Kabul after the Afghan Taliban returned to power.

The principal perpetrator of the anti-army tirade is Imran Khan. His latest allegation is that the army continues with "political engineering" by getting smaller political groups and their elected representatives to join the two rival parties. The army has "not learnt a lesson," he alleged, reported Insideover. For Khan, it is a heads-I-win-tail-you-lose game. He behaves like the proverbial jilted lover in his relationship with the army under Bajwa.

It is no secret -- Khan has himself admitted much of it -- that the Bajwa-led military worked to oust Nawaz Sharif in 2016 through the Supreme Court delivering a deeply flawed verdict in a graft case. Months of weak governments of Nawaz's party with whom Bajwa openly did not cooperate, saw Khan's accession to power in 2018. Bajwa and Hameed allegedly 'engineered' the parliamentary majority for the Khan-led coalition. Both Bajwa and Khan publicly said that they were "on the same page."

The turnabout came in end-2020 when an exiled Nawaz launched a frontal attack on Bajwa and the army - naming both specifically -- via teleconference from London. But by the summer of 2021, the army's moves worked and the opposition alliance faltered. Ensuring Bajwa's extension made Khan confident enough to try to expand his writ on the army. The rift became serious when he opposed his favourite general Hameed's transfer out of the ISI.

When Khan's lawmakers switched sides to defeat him in the first-ever confidence vote on the floor of the National Assembly in April 2022, Khan blamed it on the army. Khan's criticism grew shrill thereafter. The army remains upset at Khan's campaign against the USA, alleging that the latter 'engineered' his ouster through an "international conspiracy."

It is unrealistic to expect the security establishment to completely withdraw from the political sphere in Pakistan. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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