GIVEN the turn of events unfolding in Pakistan over the appointment of the new Army Chief, a full-scale political war is set to engulf the already-battered nation which is gearing up to count the damage. The incumbent Prime Minister Mr. Shehbaz Sharif has found himself in the eye of the storm over his visit to London to meet his ailing brother, former PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif, as the game of perceptions going in Pakistan has termed it as a consultation to appoint the new Chief Of The Army Staff (COAS) who will replace the outgoing Army chief Mr. Qamar Javed Bajwa. With ousted premier Mr. Imran Khan launching a full-throttle offensive against Mr. Shehbaz’s visit to London, the remaining days of November are sure to see a drama for which Pakistan will have to pay dearly.
Mr. Imran Khan has declared Mr. Shehbaz Sharif’s meeting with brother Mr. Nawaz as the final stamp on the appointment of the next Pakistan Army chief. It has stoked a new fire in the political hearth in Pakistan and most importantly delivered a message to the all-powerful Pakistan Army that the civilian Government has grabbed ascension in the age-old Army-Govt nexus. To his credit, Mr. Imran Khan has been taking up cudgels against both, the Sharif Government as well as the military Generals sitting in Rawalpindi, despite the threats to his life. Though the present visit by the Prime Minister to London is being painted by Mr. Khan as an important decision being taken by “a convict and fugitive and his sons and daughter” solely to score political brownie points, there is no denying the fact that entire exercise has exposed the growing faultlines within the MJC (Military Jihadi Complex) and the waning influence of the Army on civilian decisions.
The ousted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will continue to squabble over the appointment of next Army chief till the new General replaces Gen Bajwa but the overall picture surrounding the latest episodes in Pakistan is providing enough hints of the country losing control over its internal systems. More the importance to the civilian Government, more will be the acrimony between Islamabad and Rawalpindi and with the Deep State calling all the shots there is a growing fear among the international community that Pakistan might turn into a dangerous State with too many stakeholders pulling it their own way. But then, this has remained the state of affairs in the perennially client State which is still living on doles from international agencies and close friends in the Muslim world. The reality was stated by the Prime Minister himself who minced no words while stating that Pakistan could not afford to move around the world with a begging bowl in hand. The biggest tragedy is the continued refusal of all the stakeholders to accept the reality and mend their ways.
The MJC is too rigid to look at the larger picture where Pakistan’s international standing is set to plummet to a Rogue Nation given its extremely volatile economic condition and rising conflict between home-grown terror groups. The Deep State is still caught in the long-decayed thought of drumming up religious sentiments and presenting Kashmir as a diversionary tactic. None is willing to accept that the fire of terrorism has, in fact, started to singe their own people. The increase in number of attacks by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Pakistani forces and also civilians in the border region was a clear signal for the Pakistani leadership to change tack and adopt a more accommodative approach.
Though he started speaking too late in his political innings, even Mr. Imran Khan has been insisting on learning from India’s foreign policy which has paid its people rich dividends in times of international crisis. All these factors, unfortunately, play a secondary role in Pakistan’s political and military thinking which is based on just one central idea - Hate India. The Army, too, is now facing the consequences as its reputation is at the lowest in Pakistan where people are increasingly asking questions on its political involvement. The political and economic quagmire has left the Army and the Government in a big mess where both will try to assert their authority and in the process drag the already-harassed civilians to further hardships. A dark future awaits Pakistan.