The tragedy of Pakistan is that there is no neutral arbiter left in the State apparatus—not the judiciary, not the Presidency, not even the Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army’s institutional solidarity that Imran had sought to breach, faltered gravely, but courtesy the sacking recovered and has held intact.September is also the time by when some of the ‘Imrandar’ judges will be weeded out. In any case, much of the sympathy with Imran has begun to fade after the acts of sheer gangsterism by PTI cadres. A certain brazenness has also set in; that should explain the re-arrests of PTI stalwarts and former Cabinet Ministers, Fawad Chaudhary and Shireen Mazari, despite court orders to the contrary. After the Pakistan Democratic Movement protests—orchestrated by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Maryam Nawaz outside the Pakistan Supreme Court—the judiciary has also begun to sound conciliatory notes. Just to make sure, a judicial reference against Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Bandial is being contemplated by the National Assembly. Meanwhile, as a visible sign of Establishment re-grouping, a Special Corps Commander Meet, as also the National Security Committee headed by the Prime Minister, have decided to proceed against the mobsters, abettors, instigators, and conspirators of 9 May. A larger crackdown has been initiated—the Army has been called out in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it has been requisitioned in Sindh and some 5000 arrests have been made. It seems even Imran will be tried under relevant provisions of the Army Act, which means that the legal proceedings thereof, may not be judiciable in civil courts. The death knell of Project IMRAN KHAN has been sounded; the noose around his neck has begun to tighten. The tragedy of Pakistan is that there is no neutral arbiter left in the State apparatus—not the judiciary, not the Presidency, not even the Pakistan Army—all institutions are so deeply embroiled in politics and its many slants that Pakistan’s larger statecraft is in a veritable mess. Imran, in his hubris, attacked the citadel of the Pakistan military to send a direct message to his bête noire Asim Munir; he was encouraged to do so by a nudge and wink from within the Army’s ranks as also because he was secure in the belief that the Chief Justice would bail him out, which he eventually did with great love and affection. It is quite clear that he miscalculated badly and has incurred the wrath of the State. The PTI, as a political party, is now in serious disarray; its wickets have begun to fall. A few exits are driven by conscience, others by software updates. The cadres are also feeling abandoned. Key leaders have condemned the events of 9 May, others have submitted their resignations. There is also talk of a split. Imran has squandered his immense popularity with one false step.
After the Pakistan Democratic Movement protests—orchestrated by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Maryam Nawaz outside the Pakistan Supreme Court—the judiciary has also begun to sound conciliatory notes.Project IMRAN KHAN has traced a familiar journey in Pakistani politics. Riding on his cricketing glory, Imran sought political power. Cognisant of the great salience of the Army in the power structure, he hung on to its cloak tails. The Inter-Services Intelligence and the Army responded enthusiastically, curating a monster in the process. Till the very end, he sought to bargain his popularity for the appendages of power through the good offices of the Pakistan Army—his pleadings for a meeting with General Asim Munir, that did not materialise, is the latest example. Political expediency rather than lofty principle was always the guiding leitmotif. Imran’s core belief, in any case, was not the apoliticality of the Army, but its usefulness to his political cause. He stood up mobsters within his own party to alternately coerce political opponents as also vilify instruments of military authority to suit the shifting sands of his political objectives. In consequence, his power lost purpose and the promise of Riyasat-e-Medina dwindled into downright hell. Even as mercurial a populist as Imran must realise that popularity acquires legitimacy only when it respects the rule of law. In so far as the Pakistan Army is concerned, it must smell the brew of the coffee in this Naya Pakistan. Large swathes of public opinion are indeed challenging the stranglehold of the Pakistan Army on the State. It must realise the futility of creating monsters like Imran and installing them in power; ultimately, they not only break your hearts but also bruise your lips. It must also revisit its credo as ‘the guardian of Pakistan’s territorial and ideological frontiers’—more modest aspirations will suffice. Its generalship must re-educate itself in the fundamentals of civil-military relations, namely, ‘that the civilian is right when he is wrong, the civilian has a right to be wrong.’ Only then will the tension between people as the fount of power or power flowing from the barrel of a gun be resolved.
Large swathes of public opinion are indeed challenging the stranglehold of the Pakistan Army on the State.Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to hurtle towards economic disaster; the economy is growing by a paltry 0.5 percent, the International Monetary Fund loan continues to be elusive, even remittances from Pakistanis abroad declining. Almost everybody seems to be losing faith in Pakistan. Civil war, constitutional mockery, and economic ruin are a ripe cocktail for state collapse. The idea of Pakistan is a distant dream, even its structural existence is under threat. For India, the one lesson may be this: Use the reprieve (granted by the mess caused by Imran) along our Western borders to strengthen our strategic poise vis-à-vis our Northern adversary. The wisdom that we have shown in evolving a civil-military relationship of mutual respect must now metamorphose into civil-military fusion to aggregate our conjoint capacities and narrow our power asymmetries vis-à-vis China. In a larger sense, it may be wise to remind ourselves: Pakistan is only a pest, it is China that is the real threat.
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Lt Gen Raj Shukla a recently retired Army Commander has an enviable operational service / record spanning forty three years. He also has an abiding ...Read More +