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Pakistan Army: Another Coup on the Cards?

The Fallen Prime Minister

Much was talked about when former prime minister and Quaid of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif had returned to Pakistan from his self-imposed exile in 2018. He had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for corruption charges. His return to Pakistan and going to jail was viewed as an added sympathy for the PML-N, providing a “cherry on top” of the party’s argument that its leader had been unfairly victimized. He had however stated that he returned even though he knew he would be imprisoned as a “sacrifice for the future generations of the country and for its political stability”. Nawaz Sharif, who is suffering from serious diseases was earlier denied sufficient medical attention in jail and was even denied a visit from his daughter. In some recent developments, Nawaz Sharif who is admitted to the Services Hospital Lahore has hinted that he would prefer to get treatment in the country and is adamant not to leave Pakistan.

The government, realizing the risks involved should anything happen to the former prime minister, offered him an exit to go abroad for medical reasons thrice in recent months. However, he declined on all three occasions. Since the health of Nawaz has deteriorated, he was offered a fourth chance to leave Pakistan. Once again the PTI government was late to react and are only taking remedial measures to save themselves from a national disaster. Apparently, Nawaz Sharif despite his acute health issues is eyeing on legal fight and to get himself exonerated from the allegations which had no credible evidence, but he was convicted on account of those. He is confident that he would win the legal fight ultimately and for the purpose he would like to stay back in the country.

Tit for Tat

One of the reasons for his confidence is the recent Azadi March in Islamabad led by right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman. All major opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People’s Party of former president Asif Ali Zardari have announced their support. The protest march called by the Opposition parties in Pakistan is against the Imran Khan government, which has been accused of coming to power through rigged elections. Ironically a similar march was organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in 2014, opposing then Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif over claims of systematic election-rigging by the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) in the 2013 general elections. It seems as though the opposition is hell bent on giving PTI a taste of their own medicine. While the Azadi March is carried out in true essence by the people who believe in democracy and want a strong government for their country, the real beneficiary is the Pakistan Army who has something else to reap out of it.

The real game behind Azadi March

Pakistan has been directly ruled by the military for more than half of its 71 years while the Pakistan army has attempted to trip democracy every step of the way since its inception, this effort took on a particular urgency under COAS Bajwa. The army under Bajwa had earlier resorted to full-blown political and judicial engineering to oust Nawaz Sharif and keep him out of the political arena for good. Then a puppet was chosen and placed as their selected Prime minister. Imran Khan Puppet of the country’s military has been waiting for instructions all his tenure till now and hence it’s no news that all that has been happening in the country is a planned execution by the Pakistan army.

 Warning that a “coup is knocking” has been the favorite mantra for Pakistani military over the years. Creating panic in the name of a coup is the best remedy to stay in power when a politician’s reign is encumbered with feeble governance, corruption, and mismanagement. In fact, the ever-present sense of a possible coup in Pakistan is not only because the coup makers are ever ready, but even more because the politicians themselves provide room for military adventurism. From General Ayub Khan to General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan has always witnessed the military involvement in state affairs. Therefore it may not come as a surprise if Pakistan is headed towards another coup and just doesn’t know so yet.

Viewpoint

One of the smartest players in the game is the Pakistan Army who have maintained an aura of being the “protector” and the “savior”. They have led the public into believing that they would have given befitting reply to the Indian air strikes and the attacks had the Government decided better. They have built for themselves an image of being the fierce roaring tiger that is being pulled down by the poor governance of the country, else they would have not let the Kashmir issue get out of their hands.

Infact today the Azadi March is possible only because the Pakistan army wants it to happen. The failures of the current selected puppet are too many and the only possible solution seems to create a rift between the PTI supporters and the opposition and PML-N supporters. A constant sense of distrust towards the current government is the fuel that will keep the public looking towards the Army for support. While the people will fight amongst themselves, the army would emerge a clear winner, planning their next move to oust the civilian government, this time more diplomatically.

29 Oct 2019/Tuesday                                           Written by: Saima Ebrahim

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