Today the most dangerous country in the world simply got significantly a lot more dangerous. Pakistan has grown into a nuclear power with the fastest growing nuclear arsenal on earth. It has broken the decades-old domination of Politics as in an Imperial system with only two families taking turns for power. Imran Khan, a renowned cricketer, is poised to succeed in becoming a contender for Prime Minister after securing backing from powerful Pakistan Army. Khan has been blaming Pakistan’s issues on America and been a quite vocal anti-American politician in entire South Asia.
Imran Khan, 66, is charismatic and daring. He has campaigned for many years to interrupt Pakistan’s revolving elections during which either Nawaz Sharif or Benazir Bhutto or their heirs dominated the political arena. Sharif, 65 and a three-time prime minister, is currently in jail along with his politician daughter on false charges of corruption. Benazir’s son Bilawal, 29, for the first time, ran a powerful campaign on his own however came much short than expected. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party (PTI) got the majority in 2018 parliamentary elections with around 110 seats out of 272. PML-N secured around 63 seats and Bhutto’s PPP Party got 42 seats. These numbers don’t seem to be final results as there are many independent candidates as well as minor local parties who are yet to pledge their support.
Khan will have to persuade independent candidates and minor local parties for support to get a majority and form a coalition government. He has already shown his disinterest in seeking support from either PML-N or PPP. This will surely result in horse trading from now on till the formation of a government. Which will obviously be highly unstable thus resting major power will be with Pakistan Army. Already there have been widespread charges of fraud and interference with the voting process by Pakistan Army which virtually took over the electoral process from ECP. Protests and boycotts are seemingly very likely against Pakistan Army and against Coalition Government.
Fighting corruption has been the central platform of Imran Khan’s movement from the inception. Pakistan’s political process and judiciary have always been corrupt. However, beating them hands down had always been Pakistan Army. Pakistani analysts like Aeysha Saddiqa have long documented on how the military became an owner of large chunks of land and got into business earning profits for its officer corps. The generals for many years have manipulated the judiciary to imprison or eliminate their enemies like they did Mr. Julfikar Ali Bhutto.
Imran Khan backed by Pakistan Army
There is compelling proof that the military is supporting Khan, threatening his opponents and suppressing the press to put him on the Chair of PM. The military soured on Nawaz Sharif particularly after 2008 Mumbai terror attack, planned and executed in Military Intelligence branch of ISI. The ISI was actually chargeable for the entire Mumbai operation, however, to acknowledge it is a tabu in Pakistan.
Khan openly defends the military and is closely aligned with the Islamic fundamentalist movements patronized by the ISI. He has been a frequent critic of the US. He claims that the US treats Pakistan as a “doormat.” Khan says the US war on terror since 9/11 has been incurring expenditure on Pakistan by billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives. Though domestic violence had reduced over the years the same increased during the election process either to intimidate the electorate or to intimidate the candidates.
Imran Khan and Pakistan-USA relations
Both Pakistan and the US have had a troubled relationship for many years with highs and lows. Either side has used the other for its own gain and had been unreliable partners in the fight against terror. Donald Trump’s administration has been outspoken with respect to Pakistan’s connections with terrorism and its support for the Afghan Taliban. Military aid from the US had been suspended for many years now.
Imran Khan has at times told that it might be a “bitter pill” to interact with Trump if he is Prime Minister, however, he would swallow it for Pakistan’s sake. All have been impressed by Khan’s determination during his rise but his tendency to believe in conspiracy theories gives out his intellectual weakness. His movement is sort of a cult of temperament. The Pakistan Army would soon realize that he is hard to be controlled.
This election is Pakistan’s second consecutive transfer of power by voting, it’s a very vital milestone for Pakistan. The democratic process is still weak even though it produced a new result previously unheard of. There are no old family attachments for the first time to give advice or influence.
Pakistan urgently needs sensible governance and a healthy civil-military relationship. It must abandon terrorism and lower its nuclear weapons drive to devote attention and resources to development and infrastructure. It is exclusively dependant on China to a dangerous extent. The civilian government of Pakistan should know that it has larger good in warming up relations with the Republic of India. Pakistan also needs a stable and mature government from PTI. Khan which is now in an uncharted territory with an ill-experienced team with supporters at stands who have to be pleased with all costs. Now Khan will have a huge task in steering his party and Pakistan in the uncharted territory and the future. He has home-grown insurgency awaiting his attention in various provinces and also huge financial debt along with the balance of payment crisis looming large over the country.
Pakistan hopes he does well rather than lotting the chance go waste which he got after a long time.
28 July 2018/Saturday. Written by Mohd Tahir Shafi