PAKISTAN: IN THE ‘SEASONED’ HANDS OF THE ARMY AGAIN

Being the largest functional democracy, we the Indians are inadvertent stakeholders in the democratic affairs of our two neighbours, Pakistan and China, because an undemocratic dispensation is basically confrontational in nature and the situation worsens when there are contentious boundary and territory issues involved, like we have with Pakistan and China.

And without any hesitation, it can be said these two countries are blots on the spirit of democracy. One is an occasional pseudo-democracy while the other is a preserved sanctuary of autocracy.

Pakistan that was carved out of India in 1947 to appease the proponents of the ‘two nation’ theory has been run by military rulers most of its history. Pakistan’s origin saw one of the worst communal riots the humankind has ever seen.

The proposed motherland that was supposed to bring peace and closure from the alleged ‘big brother’ attitude of India was shattered very soon when the military coup followed the partition riots of 1947.

And peace remains elusive in Pakistan since then.

When Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his affiliates would have come to a consensus on naming the proposed country ‘Pakistan’ that literally means ‘the land of the pure’, they would not have imagined that their Pakistan of dream would become a terror haven, a country run by dictators, a country dominated by rogue elements exporting militant Islam to the world, a country harbouring and nourishing the biggest names of terrorism. Osama bin Laden could not have survived for so long had it not been with Pakistan’s help.

Pakistan’s derailment that began soon after 1947 is continued unabated. The land of many military coups, political assassinations and state-sponsored terrorism is staring at yet another military coup.

Pakistan observers and analysts are already terming it as a ‘soft coup’, that is expected to give Pakistan yet another military ruler after Pervez Musharraf’s forced ‘electoral ouster in 2008.

Islamabad is facing protests from two politically powerful Pakistanis – cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Canada based Pakistani cleric.

Thousands of their supporters, from their outfits, Imran’s Pakistan Tehreek-ei-Insaf (PTI) and Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), have seized the Capital and are demanding removal of democratically elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif alleging corruption and wide-scale rigging in the elections held last year that the observed from the world community assessed were largely open.

Analysts say both Imran and Qadri don’t enjoy that much support in Pakistan to uproot a strong leader like Nawaz Sharif by holding up the nation’s Capital in this way.

But, it is also to be kept in mind that a democratically elected leader in Pakistan can never be strong enough to take on the military in open confrontation, even if he is elected with a thumping majority like Sharif.

Pressure from the world community (owing to the global geopolitical developments and bin Laden’s sanctuary in Pakistan) and the good electoral performance of Nawaz Sharif did give him some leeway to act free of the Army like he did in talks with India but it was nothing more an aberration and was waiting for just a chance to be done away with by the Army. Such liberty to act was an aberration because India has seen an unprecedented increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan after Sharif’s India visit to attend the Narendra Modi government inaugural. And the world knows the India-Pakistan border is a prohibited territory for the Pakistan’s political leadership when it comes to exercise controls there.

So, Nawaz Sharif was always under the shadow of the Army, with a little room to act on his own. It was under Army’s pressure only that the protests and sit-ins were allowed and even the accepted ways to control movements of protesters were not used, until they turned violent the last night. Before this, under Army’s directives, there was a strict no to the use of the police force. Now, with protests turning violent, even this small room will be taken away from him as a ‘helpless’ Sharif has been forced to seek the Army’s blessings. The military intervened last night and is now acting as the ‘main mediator’ between the government and the protesting leaders.

So, the military that was already exercising its control in indirect ways has now got an opportunity to act directly and extract its mileage. Given the political affairs now, Nawaz Sharif cannot use heavy force and the protesters are going to remain there issuing deadlines, as the Army would not allow that. And it is this Army only that can save the day for him from being hijacked by these protesters.

He can bargain with the protesting leaders. He can bargain with the Army.

Protesting leaders, Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, have remained volatile on their stand with fresh deadlines issued (probably under Army’s influence or in agreement with them) for Sharif’s resignation. That leaves him in the seasoned hands of the Pakistan Army, the historical ruler of the nation. The price would be heavy. The price is going to be heavy.

Analysts and reports say the Army has squeezed out the political establishment and the cost is ‘control over security affairs and foreign policy issues’. And the next stage of this ‘soft coup’ is the full takeover, as bin Laden already hunted, the US, the central pressure point, would not bother much about it. Expect a much diminished Nawaz Sharif, who would never even think to take steps on India like what he did in May 2014.

Let’s see when Raheel Sharif, the Army chief, deposes Nawaz Sharif?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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